How To Become Willing To Die
I want to preach about some things that, actually, is probably more like a heart to heart talk with you concerning some of the things we’ve been talking about lately; things that are near and dear to the heart of God concerning what the Christian life is all about. In last week’s bulletin we listed a series of different ways to talk about the Christian life so we would understand that the Christian life isn’t what we go out and do for God, but that it’s what God wants to do in us. The key to the Christian life is given to us very clearly in Romans 12: 1,2. In verse one it says to present yourself a living sacrifice and in verse 2 it tells you how: by being transformed by the renewing of your mind. These are the two keys to the Christian life.
We talked last week about dying and allowing in that death to reckon ourselves (in a sense) to be dead and therefore that the life we now live to be the life of Christ. We see that in Romans, chapter 6. Now, in last week’s message we shared some things (and they are in depth) but they do bring some curious thoughts and questions to your mind. One that I didn’t quite get to finish, I definitely want to do today, which is to talk about how it is that you die. It’s one thing for me to stand up here and preach to you that you have to die and let Christ live through you and share with you the verses that tell you something about how to do it, but you never get the how-to. It would be great if you could get a book that tells you to do step one, two, and three and then you’re there. However, it’s never that easy in your Christian life. Yet, I think there’s a little bit more and a clearer way that we can present how this can be done in your life so that you can experience some victory and actually have the Lord living in your life.
The other thing is the question about our service. This is especially important when the whole emphasis of what we’re talking about is really about the judgement seat of Christ and realizing that what we’re going to be rewarded for at the judgement seat of Christ is not for the things we do for God, but for the things we allow God to do through us to his glory. It is these things God will reward. And so, there’s a real warning in scripture which we’ll see at another time regarding legalism.
So far, I’ve been teaching that we need to be transformed, which is an inner working of God that brings His life out. In Philippians 2:12,13 Paul says, “as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
The transformation is that God who saved us and put his Holy Spirit in us now wants to live his life through us and that’s different from conforming. Conforming is fitting in the mold; following the pattern that everyone else has pushed you into and has told you how to act and what to do. But, the question that comes up says, if I’m supposed to live my Christian life so it’s God living in me, and it’s him willing and doing of his good pleasure, how do I know when I’m really doing it? This is especially so once you’re involved in a work. Sometimes when you start doing the work consistently, week after week after week, it gets to be a routine, doesn’t it? and then a switch can take place. You started by letting God use you in this capacity. Eventually you got used to doing it and eventually you told God, well, you can step aside, I’ve got this down pat ~ now you’re doing it in the energy of the flesh.
So, how do you know if you left that time where it’s no longer God working in you and you’re now just doing it out of routine? How do you know the difference? Well, I think there are some Bible answers to that and I think it would be worthwhile for us to kind of tie up what I call loose ends concerning these two questions.
What we stated the last time and tried to make clear from Romans 6:14,15, is when we live independent of Jesus Christ in our life, sin then reigns in our life and we become unfruitful to God. But, when we reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God (Romans 6:11), then it is He that lives in us and through us and then, and only then, are we really truly saved. And, then, and only then, do we ever really bear fruit unto God and become profitable to Him. Our goal in the Christian life (especially as you start at the beginning part of Chapter 6, and really all of Romans 6) is to die: die to ourselves; die to sin; die to the world; so that God can then live his life through our mortal flesh.
Perhaps you need to mark some verses when you study this again (because you’re not going to get it all from a preaching sermon), but there are some things you need to pay really close attention to in Romans 6. Notice how it speaks of us in a death way and then, the only life that you see spoken of in Romans 6 is Christ. It says in verse one, “What shall we say then, shall we continue in sin, that grace should abound? God forbid! How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Paul says we’re dead. Dead to sin. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death?” RO 6:3. We don’t want to go into the subject of baptism and water, baptism and spirit, baptism and so forth, but in case you don’t know it, when you read verse three, there’s no water baptism even hinted at in the Apostle’s mind. It’s very clear when he says baptise, it means to be placed into and identified with. When he says, “…know ye not that so many of us were baptised into Jesus Christ”, we were placed and identified with Jesus Christ with his death, his burial, and his resurrection. And, yes, John the Baptist did take people and place them and identify them in water unto Jesus Christ, but we’re not talking about that at all here, this is a work that the Holy Spirit does in actually placing us into Jesus Christ so that God the Father would identify that it was not Jesus Christ that hung on the cross, but me, in Christ. The Bible says that He died for me. And when I believe in that and trust in the work of Christ, God the Holy Spirit takes and places me into the death on the cross and into burial and resurrection so that God the Father looks and sees that you died and you paid for your sins in Christ. It was Christ who paid for them. But he sees me dead in Christ; buried in Christ.
But watch verse 4 again, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life.” Did you ever read in that verse that we were resurrected? We got buried with Christ; we died and were buried with Christ but now as Christ was raised from the dead, now I should walk in newness of life. But that newness of life is not my life. That newness of life is his life; his resurrected life now living in me. Why? Because I’m dead to sin. And, if I’m now dead and God reckons it so, the life that I now live isn’t mine, it’s his Son now living in me to live his life through me. And so, Romans 6:5 says: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” Now, that’s future, “we shall be.” In the meantime, God reckons us dead and we’re supposed to reckon ourselves dead and the life we now live in the flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:20). He died, we’ve been placed into his death and now that we’re alive it’s not supposed to be us living, but it’s him that has come alive; it’s him that’s supposed to be living. God now sees us as dead and only sees Christ living in us.
Now, when it comes to our being judged some day at the Judgement Seat of Christ, the reason we will be only rewarded for the things we’ve allowed God to do in us is because these are the only things God ever saw. When he tries it with fire, the fire’s going to burn all the other away. He’s never going to see it. It’s going to be gone and the only thing that’s going to be left are the things that we’ve allowed by our reckoning ourselves to be dead unto sin, dead unto ourselves, dead unto the world, but alive unto God. As we reckon that and serve God in that way, God will see that and reward that some day. Verse 11:2,5 “Likewise reckon also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
When you go back and study this yourself, what you need to realize is the key to all of this is in verse three which says, “Know ye not…” You’re not going to be able to live the Christian life unless you know it. Verse eleven says, “Likewise reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin.” That is, first you know it, and then in your life you reckon it to be true. You acknowledge that it’s right and live your life with that kind of recognition in mind. But, you can’t reckon it until you first know it, right? So, you have verse three, “know”, and verse six, “knowing that our old man is crucified with him ,” and verse nine, “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him.” What we realize in verses 1-4 of Romans six, is that we have a new life in Christ. That’s what you have to know. When you became saved and placed into Jesus Christ, you got a brand new life. There’s no sense carrying the baggage of the old life with you. Understand you have a new life in Christ; and that any sin that you do in the flesh, God reckons it dead. There is nothing God is holding against you there. When scripture talks about Christ dying unto sin once and that he’s not going to die again, the idea here is that you’ve died with Christ once and that he’ll never have to die again because he put away all sin the first time.
So, you know you have a new life, but what if you fail in the new life serving the Lord? Well, Christ died unto sin once, so it’s put away and it’s still put away. The idea here is not only to realize you have a new life, but to show you that if you mess up in the new life, you don’t have to worry about it. You don’t have to let it drag you down and carry it around saying, oh, boy, I’ve messed up as a Christian; God’s mad at me; I’ll never get this Christian life right. No, you don’t have to worry about it, it’s gone! God doesn’t see it. Christ died unto sin once and he dies no more. So that’s why death has no more dominion over you. It doesn’t come back and take dominion. Once you become a Christian, it’s gone for good. So verse eleven says likewise, reckon it to be so. Verse 12 says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it with the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those who are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” So after you mark those words about knowing, then the key now is in verse eleven, “reckon”; verse 12, “let not”; verse 13, “yield.” And that’s the goal to the Christian life.
Now that’s going to tell you how you can now live for God. Why are we to reckon, let, and yield? Verse 14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Sometimes I juggle in my understanding of verse 14. Rendered this way, and it’s true, Paul is arguing that if you’re now free from sin, why would anyone in their right mind go back and get involved in sin again and let that rule in their life. Sin only destroys and you know that’s true. Why would you, if you’re in your right mind? I like that statement because that’s what will cause you to get into sin ~ not being in your right mind. See, you received a new mind when you trusted Jesus Christ. You’ve got the mind of Christ in you; the Holy Spirit working in you. Look over in Romans 8:4: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” As we reckon ourselves dead, the walk is now a spiritual walk based on what God teaches us in the word. Verse 5 says, “For they that are after the flesh …” that is, walk in the direction of the flesh, living for the flesh, “for they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.” They’re not in their right mind, are they? They’re not in a spiritual mind and that’s why they live in the flesh. And so, really, you can say that sin won’t have dominion over you for you’re not under the law, but under grace, because you understand sin doesn’t have to reign. You have to be out of your mind to live in sin. And, certainly, if you’re in the mind of the flesh, you live in sin. But it says, “…they that are after the Spirit,” that is, do mind the things of the Spirit, they’ll follow the spiritual way. They’ll walk in the Spirit and won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh. So it is a mind thing and what we’re trying to say is that the Christian life is first reckoning ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin with Jesus Christ.
But then, after we present ourselves as a living sacrifice, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Now a question comes up in Romans 6:14, “for sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” meaning that since God took away the law, if I have no law on me, can I be a lawbreaker? No. There is no sin when there is no law. Now death will reign like it did before God gave the law to Moses, but when it says that sin won’t have dominion, I look at it not as dominion having the sense of controlling your life, but in the sense of condemning you, damning you. It has no power to send you to hell. Why? Christ died unto sin once. He put it away forever. Sin won’t have any more dominion. Why? There’s no more law to follow because God took away the law. There’s nothing you can do to break God’s laws because he didn’t give you any. Everything is lawful unto me the Apostle Paul says, but not everything is expedient. Oh, you mean I can now commit adultery? Yes. That means I can go and commit murder? Yes, all sin…Jesus took care of it all. Now, what I think the Apostle Paul is saying, is that law is eliminated because the power and strength of sin is in the law, according to the Bible. The more you have legalism ruling over you, the more you have a battle within you waging: should I do this, or should I do that. But if God says go ahead and do it (do anything you want to do), the struggle is then taken away. But you know what it also does? Your heart begins to stir. It’s like when your kids want to do something wrong and they know it’s wrong, but you finally just say, go ahead and do it. You figure you’ll have to teach them a lesson one way or the other, and if they’re going to do it behind your back…well…so you want to smoke a cigarette? Go ahead. In fact, here, smoke a whole pack. Parents have done that. Then all of a sudden it feels kind of stupid sitting there smoking a cigarette in front of you. It has no real purpose. All of a sudden the desire goes away. But, when you’re told not to smoke, the desire is strong.
God removed the law. Why? So he could start dealing in your heart another way. And this is where we stand now in this question: How can I die when I’m not willing to die? I don’t want to die. That’s the biggest problem. I understand if I were to die to myself, die to sin, and die to the world, that I would then live for the Lord. The problem is, half the time I don’t want to die and maybe more than half the time. And how do I make myself willing to die? Well, I think this is the answer. First of all, get the law off of you and realize that God said to go ahead and do everything you want; but before you do, finish reading Chapter 6 and watch what’s going to happen. When we finish reading this chapter, you decide if you want to go out and commit adultery, or murder, or any other sins: smoking dope, cigarettes, or anything else. I think this is what’s going to help us to realize how to die.
First of all, let me say that the Lord Jesus Christ faced this, but not in a temptation to sin. He was tempted in the garden. Realizing what it was going to take to have the sins of the world placed on him. In that garden the night before he died, he went and prayed three times to God the Father, if there is any way to take this cup from me, take it from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. He prayed it three times and the Father didn’t take it away from him. He then got up willing to face it. He struggled; but it wasn’t a struggle to sin. It was a struggle realizing that sin was going to be placed on him and he was going to bear the sins of the world and be cut off from God the Father. That was more than he could handle and he prayed that if it was at all possible, to take it from him, but “nevertheless not my will, but thine.” So he died to himself. He died physically, and he died to the world, and he took our sins and he died spiritually, didn’t he? There was a struggle going on and he was tempted in all points like we are. He understands what it is to feel like not wanting to die and yet he knows how to come to that point and say, OK, I’ll do it. Notice prayer was involved with him. He took it to God the Father three times and after the third time he was willing to die.
Now that’s going to be part of our answer, but the key here is the transformed mind. We want to be the sacrifice, but it’s going to take the transformed mind to do it. And what the transformed mind is going to do in this process is first of all, reckoning. You’ve got to get a thought process going in your mind to reckon yourself dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God. Rather than called reckoning and yielding, in Colossians 3:1 it’s called put off and put on. And how is it you can die when you really don’t want to die? Well, God knows you don’t really want to die and the process of living the Christian life is transformation: being renewed in your mind. And that process of being renewed in your mind will bring you to the point that you will be willing to die and let your life be the life of Christ. Colossians 3:1, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.” Now I know when I taught you Romans 6, I said to notice that the Bible seems to leave us dead. Now this verse brings us to the resurrection, doesn’t it? But it’s a resurrection that’s with Christ. It’s I’m alive, but it’s not me, it’s Him! Watch how the verse goes on. Verse 2, “If you’re risen with Christ…set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead (see, you’re dead) and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” There’s the resurrection.
So, now what we’re to do is set our affections on things above. How do we do that?
Well, there’s dying. Verse5, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleaness, inordinate affection; evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things sake the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked sometime, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communications out of your mouth. Lie not to one another, seeing that ye put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarians, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering: Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another. If any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” The whole point: How do you live the resurrection life? You mortify these. And how do you mortify the flesh? You put it off (that’s the reckoning process), but then yielding, you put on. And the way you die to yourself is by getting renewed in the Bible. Spend enough time thinking about the verses of the Bible. Maybe you even have to do what the Colossians did, make a list. If you’re not willing to die sometimes, just sit down in your Bible study and make a list of things that you ought to put out of your life that you know God wants to see dead in your life. Write it down. Then write down the list of things that God wants you to put on and in that process of actually going through and writing it down, and thinking about it, then you’re going to start putting it to practice. You have to have it in your mind before you can ever put it to practice. But you know what will happen? When you start putting it to practice, guess what you’re doing? You’re not only living unto the Lord, but without even knowing it, you’re putting off the old man. That’s how you get rid of the old man. You don’t get rid of the old man by fighting him in the sense of always working against him, you get renewed and start doing what is right. And, as you’re doing what is right, you don’t have time and you won’t have thought enough to do the things that are wrong ~ it’ll fall off. That’s the way you don’t let sin reign in your life: start doing things that are for God. Do things that are right; that he would have you to do, and perhaps you have to read the scriptures so you know what to do. Start doing it and other things will start falling off. And you’ll say, how did that fall off? I never did that. No, you didn’t. You got renewed in your mind and those other things began to fall off.
We really don’t want to die to our habits, to our desires, to the things we know we shouldn’t do (and we all understand that, don’t we?). But when it’s got a grip in our life, especially once it’s already a habit formed in our life, it’s a very difficult thing to get rid of. And just to say, “reckon yourself dead,” doesn’t take care of it. You have to spend some time in scripture getting renewed and maybe putting into practice some positive things to get rid of the old. But the other thing you need to do is remember grace. Don’t let your failures stop you from proceeding on once you’ve failed. Get back up and realize that your sin has been put away by Christ once and for all. But what some people do, if you have a problem and you do it, is say you’ll never do it again and try to stand neutral, but, you’ll do it again. And when you do it again, and that keeps happening, you’ll then start condemning yourself. Then you’ll start thinking God is mad at you. And, you think all the saints are looking at you and seeing you as not being as good as them. Then, you start pitying yourself. And when that happens, it becomes a reason for you not to get back up and serve God. It becomes a personal excuse that you have, saying you can’t do it. And self pity is something that will drag you down.
Look at First Samuel, 22. Now I don’t know if you know the life of Saul, but Saul was the first King of Israel and he wouldn’t obey God. So, God said he was going to get another King that would be a man after his own heart. David was always around Saul, even as a young child and when David went to war, he would kill more people than Saul the King would. Saul knew that David was being primed to become King. Even Saul’s own son understood that David was going to be the next King and not him. Saul was vainly jealous of David and was also a failure when it came to God. He would never do what God wanted him to do nor the way God said to do it. And, so, he’s a failure in himself. Now when Saul was around someone who was really serving God, instead of trying to learn and be edified, Saul would get mad. Every time David was around, Saul takes a javelin and tries to kill David. As he’s out chasing David one time, he realizes that everyone seems to be against him.. Look at what he says in II Samuel 22:7: “Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds?” He’s trying to buy some loyalty from men. He can’t get the loyalty like he wants. He won’t do it the right way, so he’s going to buy it by giving fields and vineyards. But David won’t. Verse 8 says, “That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or showeth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” No one feels sorry for me! That’s the King of Israel: “me! me! me!” the climax of self pity. See, if you get into self pity, you’ll never serve the Lord because there’s too much “me” in there for a person to be dead in Christ. There’s no room for that. If you’re dead in Christ, God reckons you dead. OK, you might have failed, you don’t have to condemn yourself and you don’t have to look at other Christians and feel condemned in their presence, sin has been put away. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, realize that you are forgiven, accept that forgiveness, and be around the saints, because you’re going to need their strength to help you get through times when you don’t have the strength in yourself. But get yourself out of the way. And so, when I look at that, I realize that if you remember that grace has freed you from sin’s dominion, that will give you some power to win and be willing to die. But don’t get locked into yourself because that’s just a never ending circle. Saul never did get out of that. You die to yourself, you don’t carry the sin baggage, and you don’t carry the self baggage with you.
When I look at Romans 14, like I said, I see Paul saying that the reason sin is not going to be tyrant over you and rule over you and have dominion to be able to condemn you, is because God didn’t put you under the law. You’re under grace. Free to do anything you want. And with that freedom you start to think. Now watch him make people start thinking. (And, if you begin to think the way Romans six says, it’ll stop you from sinning.) Romans 6:15-18, “What then? shall we sin, because we’re not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Now that’s going to help you. You’re not under the law. God says nothing’s illegal for you; you can do anything you want. But, should you? God forbid. Now you know. Don’t talk yourself into saying God said it’s OK, because it’s never OK to sin. Don’t lie to yourself. But, you’re not under law and any sin that you do is not going to condemn you. But know that God doesn’t want you to sin. Verse 16 says, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourself servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were servants of sin, but ye have obyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered unto you, which is the gospel. Being then made freed from sin, ye have become servants of righteousness.” Now what Paul says is you’re free; you’re not under the law but under grace and are free. Should you sin? God forbid ~ but think about it before you go and sin; remembering that whoever you yield yourself a servant to obey, you become his servant. And if you yield yourself unto sin, sin’s going to lead you to death: it’s going to destroy your life; it’s going to ruin you. You can yield to sin, many Christians do. But before you do, take a good look at it. Take a look at it and see where it’s going to lead you and then take a good, long look and decide if that’s what you want to do.
You’re a Christian, you’re fee, but you can sin. But before you do, know that when you yield to sin, it’s going to rule you. It’s going to become a habit in your life. It’s not going to be a one time thing. There’s no such thing as sin being a one time occasion. You’ll lie to yourself all the time saying you’ll just do it once, but one cigarette leads to the next; one drug leads to the next drug; and no matter what sin you’re tampering with, it’s just going to compound and before you know it (and you won’t even know it) you’ll see you’re addicted to it. Sin’s controlling you. Do you want it controlling you? Think about that. One day this guy I knew was smoking a cigarette when he looked down at it and said, am I a servant to this? This thing is telling me that I have to suck on it. This thing is telling me I have to spend money on it. And, this thing is building up in my mouth and is ruining my health and I can’t say no to this? This? He decided he wasn’t going to be a servant any more to the cigarette (call it that for an example) and he put it away. That’s renewing of the mind, isn’t it? That’s you as you start to think and look at sin and asking if you really want to become it’s slave and serve it. You won’t tamper with sin without becoming a slave to it. So think about that. And if you’re already hooked, ask yourself if you want this ruling over you and realize you don’t have to let it rule over you. You can, by God’s help, overcome that by dying and coming to the conclusion that you don’t want this to rule over you.
Now the other part is seen in Romans 6:19-23. I think this is the thing that will break the habit if you have already started it. “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members as servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness (you could do nothing but sin). What fruit (notice he’s trying to renew your mind. He’s asking you a question now…)What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?” You know, when it talks about renewing our minds in Romans 12, when you read down a little bit it says “abhor that which is evil.” You know what that’s telling you? It’s telling you to build up in your mind some shame about some sinful things in this world. And there’s a problem in this world, there’s no shame of sin. Homosexuality? That’s just a preferred lifestyle. It’s just a personality quirk in some people. Baloney it is, it’s shame. The Bible calls it an abomination. What you have to do in your life is realize that God looks at this as an abomination and you have to build it into your character that it’s an abomination. The world is bombarding you all the time saying it’s OK, it’s not bad, it’s all right. Don’t be renewed by the world, be renewed by the scriptures so you can think about it God’s way and if something is already a habit, rather than saying I like to do it, it feels good, build in your mind all the evil things that are evil about it…why God said it was evil.
Every sin stinks. It has a scent. Think about how every sin that is done is always done in darkness. Do you want to be like a rat running around in darkness trying to get your fix? Trying to get your drink? Trying to go places you shouldn’t go and don’t want to be seen? Think about the darkness that’s involved. Plant those thoughts in your mind. Think about the addiction that it’s going to be. For example, think about the people that are being abused by it. Take any sin; for example the homosexual scene, how they’re perverting children so they’ll grow up and be their toy play pieces. Think about women who are exploited by pornography and how some man, who might be a Christian, has a daughter who has been manipulated because she got hooked on drugs. Then some rich man who wants to get rich off of her body is either prostituting her or having pictures made of her. Yet, there’s somebody in this world praying for this girl to get saved. And if you’re reading “that” magazine, you’re supporting them, those evil people who abuse that girl. Think about the things that you’re doing and sit down and jot those things down so you get them in your mind before you sin again. You’ll say, wait a minute, do I really want to participate in this? God says I’m free from it, I don’t have to. And, do you know what? For the first time in your life you will see you don’t want to. See how that works? It’s all the renewing of the mind. It’s looking at things the way God looks at them so that you get a fresh new look in your mind. And that’s the answer, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Salvation’s a free gift. All of it’s yours for free.
Now I want to spend the last few minutes here to quickly leave you with a few ideas. Turn to Galatians, Chapter 6. And this is for the other question; for those who are already serving God very hard. We have some people around here who really give extra effort, but we don’t have enough people who put out some effort, though. We’re talking about serving the Lord and being rewarded at the judgement seat of Christ. For example, we still need some rides for L.G., our sister in the Lord. We still, more than ever, need some nursery help. We don’t have enough people volunteering to help the service run smooth and to make sure we’re all here. There are some people who are already doing this, but when others aren’t filling in, they feel the pressure that they have to do more. But what happens when they have to decide to do more, is they’re wondering if they’re doing this because they have to, or because they want to do this for God. And you know, probably it’s because they have to. And that’s not right. We shouldn’t make them do it because they have to because no one else will do it; someone else can fill in the ranks to help in these areas. But, those of you who are serving the Lord, who have been doing it for so long that you’re kind of loosing track whether it’s routine or not; is it you dying and it’s God living through you? Or, is it you that’s working?
I want you to think of some things…and I’m just going to give you these to think about. First of all, Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” This is the contrast to whether you’re in the flesh or in the Spirit. Verses 19 – 22 tell you what it’s going to be like if you’re in the flesh and the characteristics in your life. How do you know if what you’re doing is because God is motivating you to do it? Do you have the fruits of verse 22 bearing witness in your soul? In what you’re doing, are you doing it with love, and joy and peace and longsuffering (there’s the long going faithfulness of the Lord), goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; is that your attitude while you’re serving the Lord? Then let me tell you, that’s God working in you. That’s the fruit of the Spirit. That’s a way to identify whether or not it’s God working in you. Or, are you doing it with all contrary things to this list? Then it’s of the flesh, and you should stop doing it. Give it up and let someone spiritual do it. I’m not saying you’re not spiritual, I’m just saying it might be time to back off. But that’s a measure and that’s what we’re asking about.
Now, I’ll also say this: remember it says that we’re to do a work of faith; labor of love; patience of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). A work of faith is not you saying, well, if God moves me then I’ll do this. No, it’s reading the scriptures and realizing that no matter what I feel like God wants something done, and I’m going to do it because God said do it. You know what that is? That’s a work of faith. That’s God motivating you through the Bible. You’re actually doing it ~ it’s the energy from your eating food and your muscles that perform it, but what causes you to do it? If the word of God calls you to do it, then it’s not you, it’s God doing it through you. That tells you not to let feelings be your monitor of whether you ought to serve the Lord or not. If you don’t “feel” like this type of service, you don’t feel like going to witness, well, you don’t have to wait until you “feel” like doing it before it’s God doing it. If you read God wants you to do it, and it grips your heart, then do it. That’s a work of faith. That should be a good measure for you.
I didn’t spend a lot of time on the prayer part, but make sure you’re spending the proper time in prayer so you can feed and make sure that it’s God working in you that way. Again, I say , make sure that it’s grace that’s motivating you. Don’t do anything because you have to do it. Make sure that is not your motivation. But, make sure that you do it because you want to do it for the Lord. I would say that if it needs to be done, and you realize it needs to be done, you don’t do it because you have to do it, but because it needs to be done, and you choose to do it. To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, it’s sin (James 4:17). So, if you know it should be done, then do it.
Here’s the close: Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked.” This is right in line with the judgement seat of Christ that we’re talking about. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life ever lasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are the household of faith.” Do you know what I’m saying? If you’ve been working hard for the Lord for a long time, spend some time back in the word: regenerate, become renewed through God’s word; fellowship with the saints, develop that personal relationship with God in prayer and then when you look at the load that you have to do, keep doing it. Why? You’re going to reap some day in due season if you faint not. Make sure you keep your motivations of grace, but keep doing it because there’s a reward at the end. And, “as we have therefore opportunity,” the only time you’re going to have opportunity to serve God and be rewarded for it later is now. So, as you have the opportunity, don’t turn it down too quickly. Don’t say I’ve been doing this too long, it’s time for me to give it up. Realize this is still an opportunity to serve the Lord. So keep doing it while you have the opportunity. But if you find you can’t do it in the right attitude, there’s nothing wrong under grace to say, I give up my Sunday school class; I give up the bus ministry; I give up picking up; I give up taking the nursery; there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t let anyone shame you and put law on you. Don’t think God’s going to love you less because you’re not going to do it. If you can’t do it right, then don’t do it. But if you can get refreshed from the scripture, keep on doing it because there’s a reward for it. And I think those are the things that will help you out.
Transcribed: June, 2004