THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-18-09
LESSON TITLE: "TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES: KEEP YOURSELF UNSPOTTED FROM THE WORLD"
Let me welcome each of you to our program on this beautiful Lord's Day morning. I hope all of you are well and that you are prospering greatly, in your physical lives according to what you are giving to God spiritually. It is wonderful to be a part of God's family and to have opportunities such as this to come before Him and learn more about what He wants of us, as well as praising His name through song. As we begin our homage to God this morning, won't you bow with me in prayer?
Consider for a moment what it is in this life that gives us true joy and happiness! What is it that causes us to have the blessing and promises which we do from God? Our first song of the morning focuses on one thing in our world which gives us life and even life eternal. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together the song, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives!"
(SONG # 1)
When was the last time that person on the job did something against you? What about your neighbor who just keeps acting in a way or saying things that are not kind? Maybe you have had a run in with a family member or a loved one. Whatever the situation, let me ask you, "how did you react?"
One of the toughest lessons of Christianity is to do good to those who do bad toward us. However, we know this to be true because even Jesus dealt a lot with these same principles during His ministry. In Matthew 7:12, we read the golden rule where we are to treat others as we want to be treated. But now go back to something Jesus said earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, in chapter 5, and verse 44 of the same book. There we read, "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you," Did you hear the words of our Savior and Lord, the King of God's Kingdom? He said we are to do good in return for evil.
If you go to Paul's writing you will find the same principles presented as he no doubt was lead in these things by God. In Romans 12:21, we read, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Here again we see that we are to return good for evil not evil for evil as our society teaches. However, I think this same verse also tells us why we are to do this - the answer is so that we will not be "overcome with evil," or "partakers ourselves of evil things."
Doesn't this all make good sense? When we choose to stoop to the bad level of those who do things against us we are no better than they are. We are guilty of the same sin. However, when we choose to be like Christ and react as He did - then people can truly see Jesus in us. No doubt this is why Jesus further said, "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also," Matthew 5:39.
May we never choose to be like the world and to fall into the sins of those around us who often do things against us. Instead may we also go the extra mile and learn not to strike back, so that the whole world, as well as our God will truly know we are serious about our Christianity. So, how do you react when things are done against you?
This morning, I will be leading our lesson thoughts of the day, as we continue our study together entitled, "Take Heed To Yourselves." Our specific lesson of the day is called, "Keep Yourself Unspotted From The World?" So stay with us and after our next song together we will return with this study from God's Word. Now let's return to our singing. The name of the next hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour."
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
Thank you for continuing with us today as we now turn to God's Word and look at some more thoughts about "Taking Heed to Ourselves," making sure that what we do is according to the Will of God and proper in His sight.
You know we all live in this world and we are affected by many things in it. There are times that maybe we think things or we begin to say things or even do things that we learn from others or that we have seen others doing, and so we become at times, we might say, spotted from the world. Some of those things might not necessarily be that bad or might not be evil or wicked in and of themselves, but in the fact that we allow the world to come into our lives and sometimes keep us from God or keep us from doing more for God or serving God, then certainly we would begin to see the problem with the world or the spot of the world upon us.
There is a passage in James chapter 1 that talks about this concept of striving to be those who are unspotted. In fact, if you look in the text with me, it actually says that pure and undefiled religion includes several things. First of all, he mentions in verse 27 of James 1 that it, "includes visiting the orphans and the widows in their needs." In other words, there are and certainly a group of people there referred to that might need special assistance. Why? Orphans don't have parents. Or widows don't have husbands or maybe families to care for them. And so what do we do as Christians? Well, as religious people, we have concern. We love them and we help especially those who are our brethren.
But then he mentions something else in the same passage in verse 27. He says, "And to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Again, do you think maybe the world of that day was having some problems in the way that they cared for their orphans or widows? Certainly! In fact, throughout all of Biblical times we find the Jews were commanded to care for such. When the world often would reject them and considered them as lower or maybe on a lower scale than the average person in society. So he says, "Good religion, proper religion is not about being like the world, but being different from the world." Its' not about being like the world, earlier as he says in this passage, in just hearing what you should do, hearing what God says, but then not doing it. That's what the world often does. Do you know anybody like that, who talks a good game or maybe claims their a Christian but really in their lives they don't show that forth. It's not like the world in that, but rather when we hear it, the Bible says we what? We do it! Be doers of the Word and not hearers only. That's a good part of being religious and being godly.
And then later in the next chapter, chapter 2, he goes on to talk about that same idea of understanding that we are not to show favoritism. And so what we begin to see in not being like the world or unspotted from the world is the reality that when we strive to be like God and we strive not to imitate the things of the world that are improper and not right in the eyes of God, then we begin to see that we are those who practice a pure and an undefiled religion.
Another verse that might help us with this is found over in the book of John. John there helps us in 1 John chapter 2 to see what it was more in relationship to the world that God wanted from us that we might be right in His sight. He actually proclaims here there in verse 15, "Do not love the world or the things of it." What happens? Well we turn to the world and we see what the world is doing and we again find out what it offers us. We many times want these things. Let me remind you that it is not wrong to want them. There might be a house or a car or a boat or many things that we have wanted and we have desired to have and we have even tried to work to acquire these. As long as those things don't what? Come before God. That's the problem once we allow ourselves to be spotted by the world. When we begin to be seen as someone of the world or living for the world or working for the world or working to have the things of the world rather than what? The religion of God. Rather than the undefiled of God. Rather than those who are seen as different from the world and unique.
He actually goes on there in verse 15 of 1 John chapter 2 to add this. "Do not love the world or the things in the world for anyone who loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." You see you can't have it both ways. You can't love the world... and I believe what he is saying here, to the point that we allow the world to rule us or be first or foremost in our lives and forget God. Rather we must put God first and know that it is our own God who made and created the world and blessed us with the opportunity to even be alive and to live in such a blessed and a wondrous place.
And so let's not be those who are spotted by the world, who are caught up in the things of the world. Why? Because verse 17 of the same passage clarifies, "the world and the things of it are passing away." But what does God offer? The ability to abide forever in Heaven. And so there is the incentive. There is the motive that we have to not be spotted by the world and to follow God because we can live eternally and be blessed by God in doing so.
There's another aspect to this concept of being those who are not spotted by the world or those who focus ourselves on being pure and keeping ourselves in a pure and undefiled religion. It again is found back in the book of James, James, this time though in chapter 4. If you'll look there with me in James we find now another challenge to help us to see what we should have friendship with, who we should have friendship with and the fact as well that if we have friendship sometimes with certain things then we cannot have friendship with God. This verse says in verse 4, "Adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." Do you notice what he is saying here, this idea of an adulterer or an adulteress? When you think about the concept of adultery, adultery means that the individual has broken the marriage bond by going outside of marriage with a different person to commit the act of fornication. Now think about that as far as Christians. We have betrothed ourselves. We have committed and signed the covenant through the blood of Christ that we will be children of God. So we are God's children. In fact, sometimes as the church, we are called the bride of Christ. So if we go outside of God and, as it speaks here, take friendship with the world and we take up ourselves as adulteresses with the world in a spiritual sense. Guess what. We are enemies with God.
Now again reminding ourselves that everything of the world certainly in and of itself is not wicked or evil. God made it and God made many wondrous and glorious things about it. So what are we talking about here? We are talking about those things good, righteous, evil or otherwise that keep us from God. What do you mean even righteous? There are some good things, there are some holy things that might even keep us from being the type of Christian or serving God as we need to because we become so obsessed or caught up in these things. You see, we must focus on God. We must be his children. And we must do those things that are assets in His service that show that we are committed to His commandments and committed to loving Him (John 15:14) by being friends of His and doing the things there that are obedient to His command. That's how we show the friendship of God. That's how we show the love (John 14 and 15) of God in us and through us not only to God but also to the world.
Another passage which again would help us with this is by Paul. You might note to this point that we've looked at James. We've looked at Peter. We've looked also at John and now we look at Paul. We're noticing that all of these Biblical writers, especially in the New Testament, continue to emphasize a similar point about how we are to be those who are really caught up in God, caught up in our Christianity, focused on spiritual things rather than the world and that we don't allow ourselves to be spotted by the things of life in the fact that we then turn to the world rather than serving God first.
So look with me if you will in Romans chapter 12. In this verse we find here a very important passage that helps us to see what it is that we do daily in our service to God. As servants of God, we are required not to be like this world. Read with me there beginning in verse 1. He says, "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service." What do we read first of all here? We find that we are to be those who present ourselves before God as those in service to God striving for what? Holy things. Striving for what? Acceptable things to God, and striving for the reasonable service that He has given us. In fact, I think it interesting there that he uses this idea of our bodies as living sacrifices. That means a life of sacrifice, giving up things, giving up worldly things, not allowing ourselves to be spotted by the world.
But verse 2 perhaps is even clearer. He says, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." You know if we are going to conform to something, what do we become like? That thing. That's what we've been reading about, that one can be conformed to the world. Here it says, "Don't be conformed to this world, but transformed." Now that means that we are different. We are changed. We are unique. We are now different because God is our priority. Therefore, don't be conformed to the world but transformed by changing or renewing our mind to do what? Focus on pure religion, undefiled religions. Such as what? That you may prove what is good, acceptable, and perfect according to the will of God.
Now we might in all things do what is glorifying and uplifting in the sight of God in helping my fellow man to know Him. What type of things would that be? "A living sacrifice," verse 1 said. A holy sacrifice and acceptable sacrifice. Whatever it is that is designed by God and His Word to show forth again that He is first.
So again you know that we are learning the idea that we are not to be spotted by the world, rather unspotted by this world. So with that in mind, what we strive for is that purity. We strive for that concept, I believe in Isaiah chapter 1 and verse 18, where it talks about that "we will be whiter than snow through the blood of Jesus Christ." You know, here we are in the winter time and we've had a little bit, but possibly even more snow will be on the way, but you know what it means when it says that purity of that first fallen snow. The whiteness of that snow. You see, we have that, that ability to be unspotted and so pure, so fresh, so white through Jesus Christ. So the question is: Will we take advantage of it?
Our final passage this morning will be found in the book of Corinthians. If you'll turn there in 2 Corinthians and I hope you have your Bibles as we turn together and see what God says to us. There in chapter 5 we find some references to the final judgment of God, but just after the judgment of God is referred to. I want you to notice what He sets out as far as our objective as those who love God and want to follow Him. For instance, notice with me there in verse 12 it begins to talk about this concept of a reconciliation, that through Jesus Christ and His death for all, we have a chance to reconcile ourselves back to God. But then notice with me back down in verse 16 and 17 what it says. "Therefore from now on we regard no one according to the flesh even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold all things have become new." You see, as Christians we no longer are of the world. Why? We've died to the old man, the worldly man, and it says we have become new creatures, no longer knowing the things of the flesh or living according to the worldly flesh or even that we learned of Christ when we were in the flesh, but now learning of that which is pure, holy, righteous again according to God that we might as we begin to see here do all things in a new and a different way.
Down in verses 20 and 21 of the same passage, he says, "We are ambassadors of God." You know we stand out as unique individuals who are reconciled to God, but who also strive to tell others about God that we might reconcile them to God and then finally in verse 21 that we might what? That we might know that He made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might what? Become the righteousness of God in Him. How wonderful to see that when we become unspotted from the world that we have become then the righteousness of God. Isn't that what we want? To be seen as those who are righteous. How do we do that? We obey our God.
Romans chapter 6 talks about this same idea of dying to the old man and crucifying him and rising as a new creation. You know how it tells us we do that? After confessing and repenting of our sins, then what we do is we are baptized. It is in that act, the scriptures tell us that we become reconciled and we die to the old and we rise as Jesus rose but yet we become new creatures.
Are you willing to do that today? Have you done that? If not, you cannot be a child of God. If you do it today, you will be His child and you will receive the blessings today and blessings of eternal life for evermore.
(SONG # 3 - "I Know Whom I Have Believed!")
It was certainly great to have you with us today. Thanks be to God for this opportunity we have had to come before His throne this morning. Please, remember you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we join together in this service to God.
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As those who love God, may we all strive to keep ourselves from becoming entangled with the world. For if we are found faithful in the end we will be given a crown of life.