"CARNALITY'S IGNORANCE" Part 3
1. I believe that it was about seven years ago that I became aware of God working in my life such as had never previously been the case since my salvation. And I think some of the circumstances of that period of time in my life are necessary for you folks to know.
2. The reason is this: As a Bible teacher and preacher I must assimilate into my life a considerable amount of Bible truth each week. Then, I must digest it and in turn present that truth in a challenging way to you folks.
3. Well, that's sometimes tough to do, and it has resulted in me learning a literal storehouse of Bible facts and information in the years that I have been a Christian and in the ministry. But seven years ago I was led by the Lord to realize that significant changes were in order for me.
4. Rather than focus on quantitative growth, which had been my emphasis up to that time, I realized the necessity of altering the course of my Christian life so as to place major emphasis on qualitative growth. I knew that from that time onward I would concentrate on quality living, quality studying, quality teaching, quality preaching, as I had never concentrated on it before.
5. And the way things had been in my life and ministry, such emphasis on quality was not possible. And I am of the opinion that this kind of situation is very common in the lives of many Christians and many men in the ministry. I concluded, therefore, that the circumstances of my life had to change to accommodate my new emphasis.
6. Part of the process that the Lord brought me through was extremely difficult. Heartbreaking. And I wasn't heartbroken for myself, but for my people. My heart ached for them.
7. You see, when I arrived at my first pastorate, and subsequently, as people were saved and added to the Church, my heart literally soared. I was filled with love and a holy zeal to go out and do a great work for God . . . to build a great Church for His name's sake.
8. But in a hundred different ways and on a thousand different occasions I observed the Holy Spirit of God gently tug and tug and tug at my people's heart strings, only to see them resist Him.
9. Scores of times I had given invitations, from the platform as well as in individual homes, to provide my people with the opportunity to yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit, only to hear the words of that first martyr, Stephen, echoing in my ears to the people he pleaded with; "ye do always resist the Holy Ghost."
10. And with my heart bursting at night on my bed, dozens of times I told my precious wife, Pam, things that sounded like Jeremiah: "Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name."
11. But each time the next statement of Jeremiah came true in my life, as well: "But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." I had to continue.
12. Friends, the pain and heartache that such passages reflect came from the heart of a man whose Master was not loved by the people that he loved and yearned for. This kind of pain is not a required course in God's curriculum of life. It is an elective course. Enrolled in by folks who choose to grieve, to quench, and to resist the Holy Ghost. But though others enroll in the course, I was the one who had to take the course.
13. Well, when you pour your life into people for a long time and you ask nothing in return, literally, besides a response to God's Word, there comes a time when you have little more to say along those lines.
14. Did you know that you can only encourage young women to grow up so many times? At some point they have to realize that they are no longer little girls, but must take upon themselves the responsibilities of adulthood, wifehood and motherhood.
15. Did you know that there comes a time when older women in the Church can no longer be pleaded with to be patient with youth, to show love when it may be scorned and rejected by those younger, and to be tolerant with the intolerant young? I mean, you've just said all you can say.
16. There is a limit to a pastor's capacity to exhort and cajole young men into being the spiritual leaders in their homes they need to be. And there comes a time when you have very little ability to deal with traits that only little boys are supposed to have, such as a "You can't make me if I don't want to" kind of attitude.
17. Well, let me tell you something. I just reached a point where I wasn't going to try and make folks do things anymore. I felt that when it had become obvious to me that the only kind of growth occurring is the growth of head knowledge, and that the people didn't have a heart that sought after the things of God, then I knew that change was due.
18. Don't get me wrong. I loved, and still do love, each and every person I pastored with all my heart and soul. Over my course of time as their pastor I had begged them to yield their lives to God. By and large, they did not, and probably still have not. But I had reached the point where I felt that someone else could beg them to serve God, because I believed God would have me to do other tasks. Begging was no longer the essence of pastoring for me.
19. You may be here, this evening, a Christian. You've trusted Christ and you are aware that His will for your life is to attend the prayer meeting tomorrow night, or to do some other thing God wants you to do. There was a day when I would have pleaded with you to obey Him Who must be obeyed, but you'd still not obey Him. I no longer plead with others to do that which ought to be done without pleading.
20. You may be a husband who will not turn your life completely and unreservedly over to Christ. You don't know why, you just won't. There is no specific reason for your resistance, except possibly the fear of failure. An unfounded fear. Years ago I would beg. I don't beg any more.
21. You may be a wife who will not be a real wife to your husband. Oh, you have your reasons, but they're not good enough reasons. They are excuses that you use to rationalize your rebellion against God, while you strive to be "spiritual" in other ways. Perhaps you fool other people. Perhaps you even fool yourself. But you don't fool God. In the past I would have begged you. I won't do that any more.
22. Perhaps you're a person who is stubborn and self-willed. Maybe you always buck at God-ordained authority. In the past I would have pleaded and begged you to straighten up and submit to God. I'm not the one to do that job any more.
23. Why? Because a number of years ago I reached the absolute end. I came to the point where I felt like Joshua in the valley of decision. I felt like Elijah on Mount Carmel. I felt like Paul writing to the Corinthians. "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." "How long halt ye between two opinions?"
24. Have you ever reached that point with someone? If you really have, you are never the same person again. In First Corinthians 6.19-20, Paul had reached the absolute end of what he had to say. Oh, sure, there are ten more chapters in First Corinthians, but those ten chapters are the answers to questions asked him by the Corinthians. It is our text for today, verses 19 and 20, that is Paul's last shot to these carnal Christians.
25. Let us stand, in respect for the Word of God, as our text is read: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
26. Folks, it is now time for carnal Christians to wake up from your slumber and realize that there is a God to be served and cities to take the Gospel to. There must come a time when the immature believer realizes that he or she simply cannot afford the luxury of carnality.
27. If you are at that point in time in your life, if you no longer expect people to beg you to do what you ought to do anyway, then these two verses can revolutionize your Christian life. Christian, God has a plan for carnal Christians becoming spiritual.
28. Three steps that you must take, in your own heart and mind this evening, to be a spiritual child of God.
1A. FIRST, YOU MUST FACE REALITY
There are four realities that you must face, as a child of God.
1B. Reality #1. Your Body Is The Temple Of The Holy Ghost
1C. You can look at yourself in the mirror after you step out of the shower and go "Ugh," or you can attempt to delude yourself all day long. But you cannot change the truth of this statement.
2C. Acknowledge in your mind and heart, right now, that this is true of you. Your body is the temple of the third Person of the Triune Godhead if you are converted.
3C. How, then, can you continue in self pity and feeling sorry for yourself when this fact is once and for all realized, with all of its implications? How can you not suck it up and serve God?
2B. Reality #2. The Holy Ghost Is In You
1C. That's right. It's a fact of the Word of God that every single believer possesses the Holy Spirit of God, or rather, the Holy Spirit of God possesses every believer.
2C. Now, there was a time when this wasn't true of every believer, but it's true now, as Romans 8.9 substantiates. So, if you don't have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you you are lost. It's as simple as that.
3C. This means, every single act that you will ever commit or involve yourself in, like it or not, involves the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God.
4C. Do you really want to involve the Spirit of God in your ridiculous and unspiritual lifestyle? Is the Spirit of God interested in accompanying you when you are immodestly dressed, when you cuss and swear, and when you side with the enemies of God against the people of God? I don't think so.
3B. Reality #3. The Holy Ghost Is Given You Of God
"which ye have of God"
1C. Quite literally, Christian, the Holy Spirit is a love gift to you and me from our bride groom, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2C. "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory," 1.13-14. Notice the word "earnest" in verse 14. Though the concept did not exist when Paul wrote this passage, the word translated "earnest" now refers to an engagement ring in modern Greek. Something you give to one you love and plan to marry.
3C. This ought to bring to our minds the great love of Christ for us. Such love that motivated Him to lay down His life for our sins.
4C. Therefore, you should not, indeed you cannot, deny the infinite love that Christ has for you. You cannot impugn His motives as He works in your life and mine by the Spirit He gave to us.
4B. Reality #4. You Are Not Your Own
1C. Do you remember me alluding to this in my message last week? Clearly, this passage teaches us that neither you nor I have the right of self-determination. You don't have the right to decide what you will and will not do, and neither do I.
2C. This is not to say that you and I do not actually make these kinds of decisions. To a greater or lesser degree each of us does. But it does mean that we don't have the right to make some of the decisions we make.
3C. When you decide something, anything, contrary to the will of God for your life you, #1, violate the temple of the Holy Ghost. You defile it. #2, you involve the Holy Spirit, involuntarily, in sin. You have no right to do that. And #3, you snub the great love of God for you.
4C. Now folks, if you've decided that you're simply not ever going to serve God, that's your decision. And if you follow through on it you show yourself to be lost. But if you want peace and joy in your life, you'd better begin to face reality and admit that such decisions are not really yours to make.
5C. Verse 19 is reality for the child of God. Face it.
2A. NEXT, TO BE SPIRITUAL YOU MUST FOLLOW REASON
"For ye are bought with a price"
1B. Paul, Here, Only Alludes To A Theme That The Corinthians Had Been Well Schooled On . . . The Redemptive Work Of Jesus Christ On Calvary's Cross; The Saving Sacrifice Of The Savior.
2B. You See, Spiritually Speaking, Every Person Comes Into The World As A Slave Of Sin. The Bible Declares That We Are In Total Bondage And Chains To That Which Is Contrary To God. Further, Scripture Declares That We Have Absolutely No Means Of Deliverance Or Rescue From That Situation At Our Disposal.
3B. Then, One Day, While You And I Were Standing, As Slaves On The Auction Block In The Slave Market Of Sin, One Came Down The Row With The Purchase Price. And He Was The Only One Who Had Ever Walked Along That Pathway With The Redemption Price.
4B. The Redemption Price, You See, Was His Own Blood. And He Freely Shed His Blood That He Might Purchase Us For Himself . . . That Instead Of Being Bound In The Cold And Cruel Chains Of Sin And Death, He Might Shackle Us In His Warm And Tender Chains Of Love And Life And Liberty.
5B. Now, Carnal Christians Know All This Already. It Just Seems That They Become So Wrapped Up In Themselves And So Wrapped Up In Serving Self Instead Of Christ That They Forget The Blood, The Blood Of Christ Which Cleanseth Away All Sin And Stain.
6B. Friends, This Is The Reason Paul Gives Us Behind Reality. This Is The Reason You Are Not Your Own. This Is The Reason Christ Is Your Master. This Is The Reason Why It Is Reasonable To Serve Him Instead Of Sin, Why It Is Reasonable To Serve Him Instead Of Self.
7B. To Be Spiritual You Must Face Reality. To Be Spiritual You Must Follow Reason. It Is Reasonable To Be Spiritual And Serve Christ.
3A. FINALLY, TO BE SPIRITUAL, TO SERVE GOD AS HE OUGHT TO BE SERVED, YOU MUST FULFILL YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
". . . glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1B. There Are Some Of You Here This Evening Who Have Never Succeeded At Anything You Have Ever Done. In Your Entire Life You Have Left Behind You A Trail Of Nothing Except Defeat After Defeat. And You Have Brought Into Your Christian Life The Belief That You Still Can't Do Anything, That You Are Still A Failure. That Simply Is Not True.
2B. There Are Some Of You Here This Evening Who Have Never Failed At Anything You Have Ever Done. All Through The Course Of Your Life There Has Been Nothing But Success After Success. But When You Became A Child Of God You Found The Christian Life A Different Thing Entirely, And You Are Reeling From Defeat After Spiritual Defeat.
3B. To Both Groups Who Are Represented Here This Evening, I Challenge You To Fulfill Your Holy Responsibility Before God. You Say, "What Is My Responsibility?" Your Responsibility Is To "Glorify God In Your Body, And In Your Spirit, Which Are God's."
4B. "How Do I Do That?" You Say. Very Simple To Explain. See The Word "Glorify?" It Is The Verb Form Of The Word "Glory," Which Primarily Signifies An Opinion, An Estimate, And Hence, The Honor Resulting From A Good Opinion. To Glorify God, Then, Is To Act And To Behave As Though You Have A High Opinion Of God, And To Give Him The Honor Due Him As A Result Of That High Opinion. That Means, Both What You Do And How You Do It Reflects The High Opinion You Have Of God, Both In Your Body And Your Spirit.
5B. This Can Be Seen In Another Light In First Corinthians 7.23, Where Paul Comes At This From Another Direction When He Writes, "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." Here In Verse 20 Being Bought With A Price Should Result In Glorifying God. But In 7.23, Being Bought With A Price Should Result In Not Serving Men, But By Implication Serving God Instead.
6B. Do You Qualify As Men? Yes, Even If You Are A Woman, Because Paul's Word Refers Not To A Male Of The Species, But To The Species Generally. Therefore, Do Not Serve Human Beings. Do Not Do What Human Beings Want You To Do. Do What God Wants You To Do, One Step At A Time.
7B. When You Are Glorifying God, That Is, When You Show The High Opinion You Have Of Him, When You Demonstrate The Honor You Have Toward Him, By Serving Him, You Are Fulfilling Your Responsibility As A Spiritual Child Of God.
1. Perhaps some of you are discouraged, this evening. Perhaps your spirits are low. Perhaps you are beginning to think that living this life simply is not possible.
2. Well, you're right. It isn't possible to live it your way. In order to live this life which Christ has given to you you have to live it His way.
3. And how do you live this Christian life His way? Galatians 2.20: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
4. You can live this life in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God. This is not faith which Christ has. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Jesus has no unrealized hopes, and He has certainly seen everything. So, this isn't talking about the faith which Jesus has.
5. This phrase refers to faith which the believer has, but which was given to him by Christ. We possess the faith, but it originated with Christ, Who has given it to us.
6. This means that to be spiritual, to live the Christian life, you and I must trust Christ enough to do things His way. That requires faith. That's what Galatians 2.20 is talking about.
7. And how does that apply to our text for today? In this way: If you will face the realities taught in First Corinthians 6.19, and follow the reason given in verse 20, and then conclude by fulfilling the responsibility also given in verse 20, you will be spiritual and you will be living your life in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God.
8. Reality: #1 Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, if you are converted.
#2 The Holy Ghost is in you, if you are converted.
#3 The Holy Ghost is given you of God, if you are converted.
#4 You are not your own, if you are converted.
9. Reason? Because you have been bought with a price, the precious blood of Christ, if you are converted.
10. Responsibility? Glorify Him, do not serve men. Conduct yourself as though you highly esteem God, as though you honor God, as though you respect God, as though you fear God, as though you adore God.
11. When you face reality, follow reason, and then fulfill responsibility, you will be a spiritual dynamo. Success in the spiritual realm, already given to you by Christ, will actually be experienced for the first time.
12. Scripture records that the Corinthians responded to this final word given by Paul. My prayer is that you will, too.
14. Hey, isn't it great to have these realities true of our lives? Isn't it wonderful to be a blood bought child of God? We have much to glorify God for. Amen?