God's Tests

God's tests is something we all face. As the end of the year draws near, most students havecompleted their examinations. I don’t like exams. I remember sitting in theexam hall, chewing my pen, pondering these impossibly complex questions aboutstuff I will never have to deal with ever again for the rest of my life!

I found some really funny test answers kids have given, so I
thought I would share them with you…

Bob has 35 candy bars. He eats 9. What has he got now?    DIABETES

Why are there rings on Saturn? BECAUSE GOD LIKED IT SO HE
PUT A RING ON IT

Use the word climate in a sentence. THE HILL WAS SO BIG I
COULDN’T CLIMATE

What ended in 1896? 1895!

Alice places a prepared slide in her microscope, but when
she looks down it she cannot see anything. Suggest one reason why not.  SHE IS BLIND

How do you change centimetres to metres? TAKE THE CENTI BIT
OUT

What did Mahatma Gandhi and Gengis Khan have in common?
UNUSUAL NAMES

Name 4 heavy metals. METALLICA, LED ZEPPELIN, ANTHRAX,
MEGADEATH

Hopefully you would do better than those guys. But what might
you experience in school, a College or University is just a representation of
what you live out every day! You may not have known that God has exams and
tests, but He does… Look at Abraham and Isaac, look at the Canaanite woman…

Matthew 15:26-28 (ESV Strong's)

And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's
bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat
the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O
woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter
was healed instantly.

The great things is that, if you fail a test, you don’t failin the whole of your life. God is for you, not against you. God loves you, and wants you to become everything you can possibly become in Him. So if you fail
God's tests in life, you simply get to resit the exam, again and again until you pass.

So don’t be surprised that God tests you, instead rejoice,
because, pass or fail, He loves you, …

1 Peter 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it
comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Therefore, it is in our interest to pass God’s tests, don’t
you think?

WHY DOES GOD TEST US?

If none of us like tests, and sometimes you barely hang on, why
does God test us? To answer that question, we need to step back and ask what it
is that God wants for our lives.

Any marketing expert will tell you that the main thing allpeople are interested in is “What’s in it for me.”  Whether it is buying a car or house, choosing a church, pursuing a career or even choosing a wife or husband, peoplenaturally ask what’s in it for them.

Why? Because we tend to put ourselves first. Kayleigh doesn’t suggest I give her a lollie, she doesn’t even ask for a lollie, she tells me she needs a lollie. What we think we need is the most important issueto us.

When you first come to Christ it is all about your needs. I
need to be saved, I need God to give me this, I need help with an addiction, I
need help in a relationship, I need, I need! However, as you mature in Christ,
you learn to take your eyes off what you need and place them on the One who can
meet that need, trusting Him to meet every need you have.

Paul promises,

Philippians 4:19 (ESV Strong's)

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his
riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

We as people seem intent on supplying our own needs, notwaiting for God to supply our needs, so we try our best and only come to Himwhen we can’t do it by ourselves. So God's tests improve our faith all the time, to take our eyes off ourselves and our abilities and to develop the character He wants in us.

1.     HE TESTS US TO DEVELOP TRUST

Psalms 20:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in
the name of the Lord our God.

They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.

Our natural tendency is to trust in man, in ourselves, inthings we can see and understand. Some trust in institutions like governments, sometrust in people’s benevolence, but the way to truly become someone great inthis world is to trust in the Lord. Develop your trust in God and you will develop the character He wants in you.

2.     HE TESTS US TO TEACH US PATIENCE

Psalms 27:13-14 (ESV Strong's)

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in
the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take
courage; wait for the Lord!

I don’t know about you, but I have a wait problem. I want God to teach me patience, as long as He does it quickly! As a man of action,waiting  is probably the hardest things for me to do in God's tests!

But God will often use waiting to teach us the spiritual fruit of patience. Someone of great character is generally not impatient orimpetuous, because they have passed God's tests of waiting.

3.     GOD'S TESTS HELP US TO CONFORM OUR WILL TO HIS

Let’s face it, we are stubborn and rebellious people, who
are more interested in what’s in it for me than becoming Christ like. Left to
ourselves, our will puts our interests and our comforts first, and everything
in this world tells us that that is what we should be doing. Buy this phone,
drive this car, you deserve the best!

Romans 12:2 (ESV Strong's)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the
renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.

When we stop conforming to the pattern of this world, when
we allow the Holy Spirit to renew our mind, then we begin to discern God’s
perfect will, and our will starts to conform to His will!

If we seek God’s will first, all the things we worry about
have a habit of just falling into place for us.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or
‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all
these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek
first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be
added to you.

4.     HE TESTS US TO EMPOWER US

I cannot live a triumphant Christian life in my own
strength, and neither can you! God never intended for you to sit His exams,
failing miserably every time. No, here’s the best news of all… He rigs the
exam.

At Uni, I had limited time and they could ask an unlimited
number of very curly questions, so I decided to study as much as I could, then
ask God to rig the questions, tailoring them to the material I had studied. He
actually did this!

And in life’s exams, He can rig them for you as well. He
doesn’t write the answers on your sleeve, but He supplies His Holy Spirit to
live within you and help you pass the tests of life!

Romans 8:26-27 (ESV Strong's)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not
know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the
mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to
the will of God.

WHAT ARE GOD'S TESTS?

It is an accepted fact that you cannot improve that whichyou cannot test. Developing anything of value, a products, service,relationship, even a ministry, requires testing so you can discover how to makeit better. God allows tests of character to determine our faith or to test our devotion in order to teach us humility and prepare us for greater responsibilities. We even should test ourselves...

2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV Strong's)

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.
Test yourselves. Or do you not realise this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ
is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Remember, God's tests in our lives to rain on our parades, or give us a hard time, but He lovingly allows us tests to develop our character and walk with Him. So how does He test us?

1.     DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES

We all face difficult circumstances at some point, and the
longer they last, the greater is the test! Joseph was sold into slavery, faced
hardship, false allegations, imprisonment, lasting years, yet he passed the
test with patience and endurance, showing love to the ones who had caused it…

Genesis 50:20 (ESV Strong's)

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for
good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are
today.

2.     PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HARDSHIP

Suffering pain of any sort is a test, be it physical,
emotional, relational or financial pain. If you want to see a Biblical example
of someone passing the pain and hardship test, you need look no further than
Job, who lost everything financially, suffered personal attack from his wife
and friends. And was covered in sores, yet was able to say,

Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my
ways to his face.

You may have faced this, or be facing this right now as God's tests! Fionawent through this when we lost everything, and we had to leave our designerhome for a tin shack in Nambour, in the summer, where it was so hot that shebroke out in a heat rash. She said, thanks Lord, now I even have the skindisease like Job! The turning point in this exam for her was when she decidedthat thank God for something every day, starting with the electronic gate sopeople couldn’t see how miserable she was!

3.     DELAYED FULFILMENT OF HIS PROMISES

Delayed fulfilment of God’s promises can be one of the
sternest tests of our faith. Joseph experiences it for years, and of course
Abraham and Sarah waited many years for their first child. Habakkuk was another
who complained about God’s overly long timetable…

Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV Strong's)

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens
to the end—it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will
not delay.

4.     
PERSONAL ATTACKS

I can attest that personal attacks can be a God's tests of character. Being falsely accused, having your reputation trashed, having negativewords spoken against you has happened many times in my life, but these testsgive you a great opportunity to respond in a godly way… that’s how you pass!

1 Peter 2:12 (ESV Strong's)

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when
they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify
God on the day of visitation.

Attacking them back, arguing your innocence, trying to speakreason to them achieves little. Living a shining, godly life is what counts,knowing no matter what happens, you have behaved with integrity in
God's tests.

Years ago a local pastor attacked me when I left his church,
and called every other pastor on the coast to prevent me ministering in their
churches. I decided to say nothing in reply and let God vindicate me. My local
ministry just dried up. At that same time, and opportunity opened up and,
though I rarely ministered here, I began to minister internationally.

God's tests, I passed, and then He opened incredible opportunities. So if you are being attacked, don’t fight back, let God vindicate you… then you will pass the test!

5.     
BLESSINGS

Sometimes being blessed can actually be a test in itself,
because the pass mark is when we rely on God, not our own abilities. Often
Christians who become successful in business, forget about God! Prosperity can
be a sterner test than poverty!

King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, the richest
and most powerful king of Israel. But he had 700 wives and 300 concubines, an
unwise decision…

1 Kings 11:3-4 (ESV Strong's)

He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines.
And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned
away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord
his God, as was the heart of David his father.

So beware the blessing test! If you are blessed in finances,
health, business, relationships or church, stay humble and keep seeking God
lest your blessings cause you to fail the test!

6.     A CHALLENGE TO OBEDIENCE

In Genesis 22 Abraham passed the test of his obedience when God
asked him to sacrifice his only son. At the last moment an angel stepped in and
said…

Genesis 22:12 (ESV Strong's)

He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to
him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son,
your only son, from me.”

King Saul, however, failed the obedience test when he was
told to devote Amalek to destruction, choosing instead to keep the spoils for
himself. He then tried to cover his sin by claiming he was going to sacrifice
the spoils to the Lord, but Samuel said,

1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV Strong's)

 “Has the Lord as
great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the
Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than
the fat of rams.

When God's tests involve  asking you to be obedient, you need to be obedient!

7.     A GREAT TEMPTATION

Temptation is a massive one of  God's tests of your obedience to God. You might think you cannot cope, that the temptation pressure is too great to bear,that you might cave in under it at any time, but God has this promise,

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV Strong's)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but
with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be
able to endure it.

So if you cannot stand under this test, find a way out and
run like crazy. Fleeing sin is better than succumbing to it, and fleeing it
might help you pass the test!

8.     A PERIOD OF SPIRITUAL DRYNESS

Sometimes God's tests involve  an extended period of spiritual dryness, and some of you are here at that point right now. You might be flat,uninspired, you might feel tired and distant from the Lord. You’re skippingquiet times and rarely pray. When facing the dryness test, you can see yourfaith shrivel up and die, or you can decide to thirst for God…

King David felt this way in the wilderness of Judah and
wrote,

Psalms 63:1 (ESV Strong's)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts
for you;

my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where
there is no water.

HOW TO PASS GOD'S TESTS

Any one of God's tests could come your way at any time.Whether it is dryness or success, attacks or hardships, pain or obedience. To grow in the things that matter in eternity, you need to pass the tests. Not just oneor two… all of them. So what can you do to start passing all of those tests?

Remember, God allows times of testing into our lives to
develop character and trust. Being tested is not necessarily a sign of His
anger, disfavour or judgement, it is often a sign that you are truly moving
with God, and He is preparing you for something great!

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

And we know that for those who love God all things work
together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

All things… even the tests of life!

Let me finish with 4 things you can do to start passing your
exams…

1.     
SEARCH YOUR HEART

Psalms 139:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my
thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in
the way everlasting!

The first step in passing your exams is to have close,
serious look at your own life. You turn up here at church looking pious and
holy, but examine your heart and see if there be any offensive way within you.
If there is, confess it and move on, but don’t cover it over! Allow God to
shine His light into the darkest crevices of your soul and let Him clean up
your heart from the inside out.

2.     KEEP IN STEP WITH HIS SPIRIT

Time is one of the great testers of our faith, and we tend
to either lag behind God, or if you’re like me, run ahead! Timing is
everything, and God is eternal and gets time in a way we simple cannot!

After listing the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, Paul
writes this…

Galatians 5:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the
flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Micah 6:8 talks about walking humbly with your God, step by
step with Him. Don’t get impatient, don’t get resentful and stop demanding
things of God. To pass the test you have to learn to faithfully wait. With
patience, even if your situation is painful, boring or limited.

3.     
STAY ON TARGET

In the original Star Wars, as the good guys are attacking
the Death Star, the pilots are screaming at each other to stay on target.
Lasers are flying everywhere, danger and imminent destruction are all around,
but they had a job to do, to put that proton torpedo into the small shaft and
blow up the Death Star!

So when you are tested, stay on target. The worst thing to
do is to look at the circumstances and let them dictate your destiny. Peter
stepped out of the boat with faith, but the waves and wind took his attention
off Jesus.

Psalms 119:15 (ESV Strong's)

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your
ways.

Read His Word daily, get your life into God, serve and bless
and live for Him and you’ll find you’ll be passing tests!

4.     SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD

If you want to pass tests, seek God first. When I hear of
all the things believers are pursuing in their lives, my heart breaks because
unless they seek the Lord and His Kingdom first, they are headed for disaster.

We worry if we don’t have things, don’t achieve things or wecan get lured into the things of the world.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or
‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all
these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek
first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be
added to you.

If you seek God first, He either gives you the desires of
your heart, or they fade away into nothing because they weren’t that important
after all.

Job was tested in God's tests, and he said confidently,

Job 23:10 (ESV Strong's)

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I
shall come out as gold.

God through Zechariah told the remnant of His people

Zechariah 13:9 (ESV Strong's)

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as
one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my
name, and I will answer them.

I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The
Lord is my God.’”

Today some of you here have tests, big tests. If that’s you,
I want to pray for you and stand with you in this test. I want to see you
triumph over this test, pass with flying colours, and it is easier to do that
together rather than separately. It might be a relationship, it might be a
testing job situation. It could be family, it could be financial, it could be a
huge temptation, but if you are facing a test today, stand up.

Dealing with Disappointments

Disappointments are a real thing for me, especially every Monday morning after a big weekend at church. If some aspect of Sunday was disappointing, I really flatline. Disappointments are inevitable in life, as we all experience from time to time. We can be disappointed by people, by situations, by ourselves and even by God.

By our very nature, being people of faith, hope and love, we open ourselves to potential disappointment. Sometimes we believe for the best in people and believe by faith for goodness to prevail, only to have our faith and our dreams shattered. You cannot stop disappointments in life, but you can manage them correctly and in a Godly way.

If you have recently suffered disappointment, I want to declare to you today that you can know and understand the truth by simply changing one letter… change the d for an h, and disappointment becomes His Appointment. Change that one letter, and it can change your entire perspective!

 

DISAPPOINTMENTS… A SET UP TO BE LET DOWN?

 

Why do so many of us struggle with disappointment in our lives? This week, many of us in leadership have had to work through a disappointment, a result we did not believe was right or fair, and while we boldly proclaim God is in control, our attempts to keep our chins up sometimes resemble hollow bravado.

 

Expectation plus reality often times results in disappointments. Disappointments, if not address in the proper perspective, will result in negativity and pessimism… and emotional flatline as I know too well. Christians are not exempted from this. Even worse, we may become critics of God as we can blame Him for inaction or being unfair in our time of distress. Listen to the opening verses of Habakkuk…

 

Habakkuk 1:2-4 (ESV Strong's)

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?

Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?

Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.

So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.

For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

 

How do we set ourselves up for disappointments…

 

1.      HIGH EXPECTATIONS

 

Sometimes our high expectation disappoints us, but we need to discover that God has a better plan. Joseph expected to marry a virgin, so imagine how he felt when he discovered Mary was pregnant!  God had a better plan.

 

The people of Israel were about to enter the Promised land, and Moses sent in spies. They knew of God’s promises, but then 10 of the 12 reported back like this…

 

Numbers 13:32 (ESV Strong's)

So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height.

 

High expectations can set us up at times for disappointment, especially when we tell God what we want Him to do for us! Listen, there is a difference between God telling you something and you telling God something.

 

2.      WRONG MOTIVES

 

Judas joined Jesus’ group expecting him to build an earthly kingdom, but his motives were wrong. His disappointment led to the grave mistake of betraying Jesus, and when we ask with wrong motives we often set ourselves up for disappointment and defeat.

 

James 4:3 (ESV Strong's)

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

 

If your motive for asking the Lord for something is personal, to promote yourself, or your ideas, your provision, your comfort, etc., then disappointment often follows, so if you are struggling with disappointment, check your motives.

 

3.      MISTAKEN PRIORITIES

 

What we think is a priority, God does not see it that way.  People often look for comfort and material blessings from God, but frankly God is more concerned about our character development than our comfort. The symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion.

 

What we think is important, what we deem is a better way ahead is what we tend to pray for.  We might think that God should do something for us because it will make life easier for us, but God often has a better plan, a wiser, higher, more far reaching plan beyond what we, with our limited perception, decide we want…

 

1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV Strong's)

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

 

4.      FALSE RELIANCES

 

We often grow to rely on things that are based on man rather than God, and as such we open ourselves to disappointment. Connections, jobs, education and money are like shifting sand. They might be here at least right now, but the problem is that it is very easy to put our trust in these things instead of trusting in God. Our false reliance on worldly things often disappoints us.

 

Jeremiah 17:5 (ESV Strong's)

Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man

and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

 

Sometimes expectations occur simply because we are used to relying on certain things, and when they fail us we suffer disappointment, because we were not really relying on God.

 

WE MUST RECOGNISE WE HAVE LIMITED PERCEPTION

 

God is all knowing, and all seeing, and He alone sees the big picture. Many times He is taking us on a journey building our faith and our character, but we only see from our limited point of view… we often can’t see the forest for the tress!

 

The Disciples did not understand why Jesus the Messiah should be crucified. In their limited understanding, crucifixion meant defeat. Little did they know that Jesus’ death was part of God’s mighty plan to redeem the world from the slavery of sin.

 

Our limited perception will disappoint us many times, so we need to make a conscious choice to trust God instead of what we see…

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV Strong's)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

DISAPPOINTMENTS ARE NOT DEFEATS

 

Albert Einstein failed his college entrance exam. Walt Disney was fired from his first media job. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

 

Abraham Lincoln, possibly the greatest president of the US, knew failure and disappointment… after losing his mother and later his fiancé, this is how his life moved ahead…

 

1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

1838 Ran for state speaker- defeated.

1840 Ran for elector - defeated.

1843 Ran for Congress - lost.

1846 Ran for Congress again - this time he won - went to Washington and did a good job.

1848 Ran for re-election to Congress - lost.

1849 Ran for Land officer in his home state - rejected.

1854 Ran for Senate of the United States - lost.

1856 Ran for Vice-Presidential nomination, failed

1858 Ran for U.S. Senate again - again he lost.

1860 Elected president of the United States.

 

I believe that much of our problem when it comes to major disappointments is about perception. When we see our well laid, even godly plans broken and destroyed on the ground, we get down and depressed. But we have to be like Rocky… “I ain’t going down no more!” It’s all about perception…

 

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

HOW TO TURN DISAPPOINTMENTS INTO HIS-APPOINTMENTS

 

Sometimes disappointment feels like a defeat, it feels like you have nowhere to go and no hope for the future. Yet from the ashes of your disappointment fresh destiny can arise. So how can you turn disappointment into His Appointment, and how can you look to the future when you sit in the ashes of despair?

 

1.      DON’T BLAME GOD

 

When we experience disappointment, it is always tempting to blame someone else, and this needs to be avoided. We especially need to not blame God, because although He is working all things for good behind the scene, He is often hurting too.

 

Proverbs 19:3 (ESV Strong's)

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.

 

If we blame God or others, we tend to feel unjustly treated and victimised, and this entrenches things like bitterness and jealousy rather than setting us free to move into our God directed destiny.

 

 

 

2.      DON’T STOP LISTENING TO GOD

 

When we experience disappointment, we often get mad at God for letting us down, and then we stop listening to Him. We say “God, I asked and You let me down, so I’ve lost all confidence in you and Your promises.”

 

In Exodus 4, the Israelites believed that God would set them free from slavery, and Moses approached pharaoh. But they then found they had an even harsher demand put on them, so it seem the approach by Moses had backfired big time. The people refused to listen to God or Moses then,

 

Exodus 6:9 (ESV Strong's)

Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

 

In their disappointment at the result, they stopped listening to God. So if you are disappointed today, if you stepped out in faith and trusted God and you feel let down by the result, don’t stop following and listening to God!

 

3.      STEP BACK AND SEE THE BIG PICTURE

 

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

As an eagle’s eyes see far beyond what a human eye can see, so God in His infinite wisdom and understanding, can see far beyond what puny man can see.

 

God is eternal, and He sees the big picture. We see just our small portion, and it is sometimes like viewing the back of a tapestry. We see pain, disappointments, struggle, hardship, dark coloured threads as well as light, and they seem to just make a mess. But if we could see the other side of the tapestry, we would see a vision of great beauty. We have to trust the master weaver as He weaves even disappointments and hardships into our lives.  Here’s a poem popularised by Corrie Ten Boom…

 

My Life is but a weaving

between my Lord and me;

I cannot choose the colors

He worketh steadily.

 

Oft times He weaveth sorrow

And I, in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper,

And I the under side.

 

Not til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly,

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why.

 

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skilful hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.

 

He knows, He loves, He cares,

Nothing this truth can dim.

He gives His very best to those

Who leave the choice with Him.

 

4.      SEEK GOD’S WILL, NOT YOUR OWN

 

As I said before, many of the things we pray and believe for are what we want, not necessarily what God wants. As Pentecostals, we are always stepping out in faith an believing for great things, which is wonderful, but sometimes we tell God by faith what we want, rather than allowing Him to reveal to us His will.

 

Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong's)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

That’s the awesome thing… we do not have to seek the results the world wants, because if we seek the Lord Himself, we get everything we need in life, according to His wisdom!

 

I know we at Ignite need a bigger building, and so does God. If we would just seek Him first, and His Kingdom, then we can trust that He will open the right door at the right time. Until then, we have 150 people and 2 toilets, and a lot of close fellowship, but God is here, folks, and He will lead us on!  We don’t have to issue instructions to Him, we have to listen for His instructions to us!

 

5.      LET GOD BUILD WHAT MATTERS

 

In God’s perspective, He allows us times of testing and disappointment to build what He considers is most important.

 

Are buildings and car parks important to God? Is having a big or comfortable church that significant? Or is building character and faith more important? Is unity in our church of a higher priority than the number of toilets?

 

Of course it is, and God can use our current disappointments to build things of lasting value into our lives, and into this church.

 

If you can trust God to answer your prayer the way you desire, can you also trust Him if He says no? If we think our way is a good idea, can we entrust it to God, even if He says He has an even better idea.  I have come to understand that true faith trusts God no matter the result, because

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)

we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

Many of us seek God’s hand, but don’t seek His face. Many times we put our trust in the result of our prayers rather than in God Himself, and if we do this we will be disappointed! However, if we stand and see that God is building something incredible right here before our eyes, we know that He can and will use even the disappointments for His glory and our character!

6. BELIEVE THAT GOD HAS A PLAN

 

When you experience disappointment, never lose sight of the promises God has made to you. He promises that He has a plan for your life, and with His infinite wisdom and knowledge, He is in a far better position to decide things for us, regardless of what we think should happen.

 

Growing up I always wanted to be a doctor. I missed by a couple of marks, and so became an Optometrist, and could have swapped to medicine but strongly felt to stay in Optics. As it turned out, as an Optometrist in my specialist area I have been more free to minister than I ever would have been as a doctor. God had a plan to prosper me!

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV Strong's)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

 

7. STAY FOCUSSED ON JESUS, NOT DISAPPOINTMENTS

 

Circumstances do not determine destiny, choices do. Sometimes like Peter we step out of the boat by faith, with our eyes and our faith set on the Lord, but the waves and wind buffet us so much that we begin to look at them instead of God, and we begin to sink!

 

Colossians 3:2 (ESV Strong's)

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV Strong's)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

 

Looking at Jesus, fixing our eyes on Him completely transforms how we view and deal with the disappointments. However disappointed you may be, keep focussed on God!

 

 

DISAPPOINTMENTS AND DEFEATS DON’T DETERMINE DESTINY

 

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of defeat, like Jesus rising to fullness of life from a cold, dark tomb, we can rise above our disappointments and hardships if we change our perception…

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV Strong's)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

Our destiny as believers and our destiny as a church remains sure this day, whatever the disappointments we feel.

 

Imaging the incredible pain and disappointment Job faced, losing everything he valued in life, yet he could still say,

 

Job 13:15 (ESV Strong's)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;

 

I CHOOSE TO NOT LOSE

 

Remember, disappointment only needs the change of one letter to become His Appointment. It only needs a small change in our perception to overcome disappointment in our lives. If we feel disappointment today, it’s not the end. We may feel like we’re losing, we may feel like the bad guys have won, but if we change our perception, we can choose to not lose and we can choose to win big with our God! We have a choice… disappointment or His Appointment…

 

After all, a set back is just a set up for a come back!

 

I started this message with the prophet Habakkuk whining and complaining about how the bad guys seem to be winning. And for some of us here, the bad guys seem to have won and we are disappointed.  Habakkuk cried out to God and wanted to know why good men suffer while ungodly men seem to get the breaks. He wanted to know why it seems that nice guys finish last, why people who behave well are beaten by those behaving badly.

 

And so the prophet and God argued back and forth for 3 chapters, but is want to finish with the final verses of that book. After crying out against the injustice of what had happened, as many of us are today, after feeling the disappointment and being overwhelmed by seeing the wrong guys winning, Habakkuk finishes his book this way. (If you are disappointed, I’d encourage the same…)

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV Strong's)

Though the fig tree should not blossom,

nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail

and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold

and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer's;

he makes me tread on my high places.

 

Today I want to pray for those struggling with disappointment. If you’ve had a bad year, if you’re feel let down, if you question why the bad guys seem to be winning. If your trust in God is shaky because you cannot see what He is really doing, stand up.

 

Near the end of the year, you’re feeling down, run down or let down. We’re going to point your eyes up!

Loving others is the next aspect of love I want to look at.  The Beatles sang “All you Need is Love,” and then they broke up, but because love is such a massive area for us, I want to develop it further. I don’t care who you are, every single one of us wants to be loved, and sadly our churches have been bigger on judgement than they have been on love for a long time. While love does not condone softening our stance on the issues that matter, we can still stand for what is right and still love people unconditionally.

But Paul’s great chapter on love finishes this way…

 

1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV Strong's)

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Had I been writing this, I probably would have said they were all equal. I see people of great faith and I admire them. I hear stories of great hope and I’m inspired. Yet somehow in all this, love is the greatest of all, that is agape love, God’s unconditional love.

 

So why elevate love above the rest? Why is love number one? Certainly those who love are love back by others, but expressions of love often go unnoticed, whereas great faith and incredible hope seem to move mountains and change the world.  Why should we be loving others?

 

1.      LOVE IS THE EXPRESSION OF GOD

 

1 John 4:16 (ESV Strong's)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 

John does not just say God that loves us, he says that God is love. God and love cannot be separated because God is love. When we ask Jesus Christ into our hearts, we receive God and His love at the same time. His love starts to show in our lives because He is in us and He is love!

 

John’s point is that you cannot be a Christian and not be loving others. God is love and therefore more important than any other virtue.

 

2.      LOVE IS THE BANNER OF GOD

 

Sometimes you get kicked around by life (or people, even other Christians), hurt so much that you begin to doubt that God loves you.  Never doubt that God loves you

 

Song of Songs 2:4 (ESV Strong's)

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

 

D.L. Moody tells this story…  A young man who came to the US from England, became naturalised and went to Cuba, and was there some time. When civil war erupted in 1867, he was arrested as a spy, and taken before the military court and ordered to be shot.

 

Then the man sent for the two consuls of the US and England, and told them his case, that he was neither a spy nor a politician. They found he was perfectly innocent, and had nothing to do with the war, so they went to the Spanish officers and said: “This man is an innocent man; he is not guilty of what he is accused.” The officer said: “He was found guilty by the Spanish government, and he must die.”

 

They brought this man to the execution site, and the black cap was drawn over him, and the Spanish soldiers were all ready to fire. But just before they received the command to fire, who should rush up but the American and English consuls. These men each took their respective flags and wrapped the flags around the young man and said, “Fire on these flags if you dare.”

 

They did not dare to fire, because behind those two flags were two powerful nations.

 

Think of the flag of Heaven! God says, “My banner over you is love.” Come under the banner of Heaven today. Do not go out of this building until you are sheltered under this precious banner. If you are under His blood, under His precious banner, you are saved for time and eternity.

 

3.      LOVE IS THE POWER OF GOD

 

Christians want God’s power to live a victorious life. They want to be people of faith, people of the Word, people who see answered prayers, who powerfully change the world around them.

 

Love is that power!

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong's)

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

Some years ago, Dr. Karl Menninger, noted doctor and psychologist, was seeking the cause of many of his patients' ills. One day he called in his clinical staff and proceeded to unfold a plan for developing, in his clinic, an atmosphere of creative love. All patients were to be given large quantities of love; no unloving attitudes were to be displayed in the presence of the patients, and all nurses and doctors were to go about their work in and out of the various rooms with a loving attitude. At the end of six months, the time spent by patients in the institution was cut in half.

 

Love has true power!

 

4.      LOVE IS THE BADGE OF GOD

 

Love is the badge of God the believer should wear. It’s what makes us different and what makes people notice us.

 

John 13:34-35(ESV Strong's)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

For too long the Christian Church has had legalism and moralism as their badge, and people in the world call us arrogant and bigoted, often with good reason. Our desire to see the morality of God’s Word upheld in our society is admirable, but our implementation of this desire has been flawed, because we have failed to temper our stand with love.

 

Sometimes what we do speaks so loudly others cannot hear what we say! It grieves me that the world sees Christians as legalistic and self-righteous, because we more than anyone else should realise how sinful we really are! We don’t have to compromise our standards when we show love, but love speaks far louder than condemnation!

 

At home I have a kettle. If I am wondering how much water is in it, I don’t have to pick it up or open the top. No, there’s a slim, clear window up the side. When the water in the window is low, I know the water in the kettle is low. That gauge shows the water level within. Our genuine love for others is the window by which people gauge the love of God within us.

 

THE CHALLENGES OF LOVING OTHERS

 

I’m not going to sugar coat this. There are definitely challenges in loving others, as you well know!

 

1 John 4:20-21 (ESV Strong's)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 

If we claim to love God, then it has to be seen in loving others.

 

Yet even in the church this can be hard, because some people are difficult to love.  I have a friend who often says, “Yes, we are the body of Christ and we should love every part, but why is it that every body of Christ has to have an armpit?” Loving others isn't easy!

 

Some Christians are just plain mean… they look like they’ve been baptised in lemon juice! Mean, dispirited, judgemental, legalistic believers might be religious, but they know nothing of God! Jesus describes such religious people as being,

 

Matthew 23:27 (ESV Strong's)

like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.

 

When Fiona was heavily pregnant, I remember watching her belly. It wasn’t perfectly round, but I could see bits of elbows, feet and knees poking out at various times. That’s what God’s love should be like, so full within that it just pokes out everywhere with everyone we meet.

 

Here’s some challenges that loving others will inevitably face...

 

1.      LOVE THOSE WHO HATE YOU

 

A pastor once asked his congregation, raise your hand if you have enemies. Everybody raise their hands except one old man. So the pastor asked, “so you do not have an enemy in the world?”

 

That’s right, he replied, I’m 98 years old and don’t have an enemy in the world, because they’ve all died already!

 

If you want to live for Christ, trust me you will always have enemies and have a challenge loving others. Jesus said,

 

Luke 6:27-28 (ESV Strong's)

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

 

It’s hard loving others and wishing the best for those who throw it back in your face, but why not change your perception? Instead of asking Lord, why are they attacking me, why not say Lord, thank you for the opportunity to show Your love in the face of such opposition?

 

2.      LOVE THE DIFFERENCES IN PEOPLE

 

We are all different. Even as believers, we agree on the central things but possibly are different on many issues. As people, we tend to despise others when they are different to us, but I believe as Christians we should be loving others and loving the differences in others.

 

I often say to people, never love your doctrine, your ideas, your agenda more than you love other people. We must be loving others more than what we desire.

 

Paul calls us to walk,

 

Ephesians 4:2-3 (ESV Strong's)

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

Look, I get it…. People can be irritating, and the things they do or say annoying. We get frustrated with them, intolerant, impatient, but if God’s love never fails, if God’s love sees the best in us, if we remember how many times have we let Him down, then we should be loving others with that same love.

 

3.      LOVE THOSE WHO OFFEND YOU

 

People offend other people all the time, in fact taking offence quickly is one of the hallmarks of this present age. Maybe it is how they dress, how they speak or what they believe. We are offended so easily, often taking offence to things that do not even affect us. Apparently these days, we cannot just disagree on something, we have to get offended, and if you are on Facebook, you will see people getting offended by things that do not even remotely affect them! They get passionately offended on behalf of others!

 

“Strive to be too big to take offence and too noble to give it”… Abraham Lincoln

 

Proverbs 19:11 (ESV Strong's)

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence.

 

Church, be loving others and be slow, very slow to get angry and take offence. Often no offence was intended, but we take things the wrong way and get offended. The Bible says this is unwise and immature, so just set about loving others!

 

4.      LOVE FORGIVING OTHERS

 

Forgiving others is God’s love in action. If you have been hurt by someone else, forgive them.  Not for them, but for you, because unforgiveness is bondage for you!

 

But come on, our forgiveness must have limits, right? I mean, should we be go back and be hurt again and again. No, but you must always, forgive. The disciples asked the same question, and Jesus said,

 

Matthew 18:22 (ESV Strong's)

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 

Unforgiveness is one of the most destructive forces in your life, and as true followers of Christ, we must be ruthless in eliminating unforgiveness from our lives! Beware if you feel outrage, offended or feel like you’ve been treated unjustly, because if you feel justified in your unforgiveness it entrenches it!

 

Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV Strong's)

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

 

A wife once saw a counsellor Dr George Crane, saying she wanted to not only divorce her husband but really hurt and devastate him like he had her. Dr Crane suggested she spend a month praising him, going out of her way to be kind, loving, considerate, generous and supportive. Then drop the divorce bomb, that will really hurt him.

 

She saw the counsellor after a month and he asked if she was ready to go ahead with the divorce. She said no, that she had fallen in love with him and never wants to leave him.

 

Proverbs 25:21-22 (ESV Strong's)

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,

for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

 

Loving others means forgiving others, even when we feel justified in holding a grudge, because you might think you’re holding a grudge, but in reality it is holding you!

 

HOW DO YOU SHINE GOD’S LOVE?

 

Here’s the steps you can take to start to shine God’s love to the world…

 

 

1.      KNOW HIS LOVE

 

We are not like the sun, we are like the moon. We don’t produce the light of God’s unconditional love ourselves, we simply reflect it. So you cannot reflect His love unless you know Him, and experience it first hand.

 

1 John 4:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

The more you know God, the closer you are to God, the more you cannot help shining by loving others!

 

Ancient silver smiths keep heating the unrefined silver repeatedly, up to seven times, each time skimming off the impurities which rise to the top. Someone asked how can you tell when it is ready, when it is truly refined and pure. The smith said, when I look into the molten material and I see my face reflected in it.

 

God will use adversity, pain, offence and Heat you up again and again, because His aim is to look at you and see Himself perfectly reflected.

 

 

2.      GROW HIS LOVE

 

Spend time with the Lord, every day, and you will grow closer to Him, and thereby grow in His love.

 

John 15:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

 

Coming to church is another way to grow in His love. That’s why Paul instructs us to not stop meeting together, because as we share His love here at church, we also grow in the love of God by loving others.

 

 

3.      SHOW HIS LOVE

 

As you grow into the Lord, you will grow into His love. As His love grows within you, as you give control of your life to Him, His love will begin to show up all over the place…

 

John 13:34-35 (ESV Strong's)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

That’s how the world knows we are Christians. Not because we are more moral, judgemental or legalistic. Not because we can argue better than them, or make them feel more condemned, but because they see love in us… God’s love in us!

 

I’ve found that I don’t even have to try and drum up feelings of love when I am close to God, they seem to just happen because His love permeates every part of my life, and sticks out all over the place!

 

It is like taking a container and filing it with water. You do not have to pour the water out to wet everything around it, just keep filling it, because when it’s full it overflows effortlessly.

 

4.      BESTOW HIS LOVE

 

Loving one another does not happen by accident… it happens by choice. It happens because we choose to bestow God’s love upon others. Some people we meet, some people who have hurt us or put us down, we actually make a conscious decision to not show love towards them, to withhold love.

 

1 John 4:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

My uncle Eric was a great guy, a godly man. He would walk to church every Sunday in his suit and every Sunday he would pass a neighbour who sat on his verandah. They would wave and exchange a few words.

 

One day, as he was walking to church, Eric noticed the man’s head just above the ground and asked what he was doing. “I’m fixing a broken grease trap,” he replied. This is one of the smelliest, most revolving jobs on earth. Eric stopped walking towards church, turned around, went home got changed into overalls and got down into the hole with his neighbour. A month or so later, this man made a commitment to Christ, because Eric showed love in a practical way.

 

In any situation, you can choose to bestow His love, or not. God will not force you to do it, but as you decide to reflect His love and shine for Him, you will be amazed at what He does with your love offering!

 

5.      SOW HIS LOVE

 

If you are a Christian, you should decide to sow His love all around you, all the time. If you love and love and love, it will yield a harvest in the lives of people you meet. You will be doing good, loving everyone and shedding His love abroad.

 

But sometimes it will be thrown back at you. If you offer God’s love to someone who abuses you back, I am not telling you to keep going back for more abuse. You might want to step away from them, but even this protective behaviour can be done in love. Showing love does not equal becoming a doormat!

 

2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 

This works for money, for love, for righteousness and even for evil. It is a spiritual principle that you reap what you sow, later than you sow and more than you sow. So Church, let’s sow love, let’s sow unity, let’s sow blessing, because we will reap, even if the odds seem stacked against us at present.

 

Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV Strong's)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

 

LOVING OTHERS... PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART

 

If you feel unloved, if you feel overlooked or abused or lonely, then it is hard to shed God’s love abroad when you have so little of it within you. Today, I want you to leave here filled with the Holy Spirit and filled with God’s love. If you’re filled, it overflows. If you’re empty, you have nothing to give and share with those around you.

 

You do not have to drum up love if you are filled with God’s love, it just overflows from you to everyone around you. But if you are lonely, if you are feeling rejected or unloved, you have very little love to share. So today, I want to pray for you if you have been hurt and feel unloved or rejected. Maybe your family has hurt or rejected you, maybe your ex, your friend, your work colleagues have mistreated you.

 

I want to pray today for those who have been hurt, upset or feel unloved, and your love tank is running low.

We have spoken about holiness over recent weeks, but one thing I constantly mention is that, rather than being legalistic, judgemental and arrogant about the absolutes we believe God’s Word teaches, we must temper our strong stand with love. So today I want to begin sharing on love, Christ's love in us.

1 John 4:16-20 (ESV Strong's)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

The Beatles sang “All you need is love,” and then they broke up. Nevertheless, no song typifies the cry of the human heart and the sentiment of our culture like that one, and love is a term, often misused, that is on everybody’s lips. In the recent campaign to legalise homosexual marriage, the slogan “love is love” took centre stage.

 

And who can disagree that love is the supreme virtue, and that if it reigned, the world would be a better place? Love is the prevailing theme in all of our books, movies, TV show and songs. According to Billboard, love has been the dominant theme of more than 60% of successful pop tunes since 1958. I recently shared this at Carlos and Linda’s wedding, both being musicians, so I thought I would use song lyrics to illustrate just how dominant love is as a theme in our culture…

 

What is this crazy little thing called love? Is it a many slendoured thing, because I wanna know what love is, the greatest love of all, because love will keep us together. And what’s love got to do with it? It means that if I’m all out of love, your love will lead me on, and what the world needs now is love, sweet love. In fact it must have been love, the power of love, that makes me keep on loving you. Some say, I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that, but then how deep is your love? If you’re thinking out loud, if love is all around us, then true love, endless love is when I say I will always love you, ou, ou.

 

THE MEANING OF LOVE

 

But what do we mean by “love”? For many in our culture, love is mostly a feeling of positive regard for others, or kind treatment of other people. Christians don’t disagree with John Lennon that all we need is love; we just have a more profound understanding of what love we actually need.

1 John 4:10 (ESV Strong's)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

This is not an arrogant statement. I am not saying our love is better than someone else’s. However, English is a very inadequate language when it comes to describing many things, and especially love. In English we have one word… love. So we say, I love my wife, I love Vegemite. I love Jesus, I love football, I love my church. It’s the same word. In Greek the language of the New Testament, there are 7 words for love, although only 4 are used in the Bible… lets start with 3 not in the Bible…

1.      LUDUS

Ludus is playful or uncommitted love, involving overt flirting or seducing, without commitment. The focus is on fun, so it is not necessarily sexual, but it is uncomplicated and undemanding.

 

2.      PRAGMA

Pragma is a kind of practical love founded on reason or duty and longer-term interests. In this love, sexual attraction takes a back seat in favour of personal qualities and compatibilities, shared goals, and making it work. In the days of arranged marriages, pragma was very common, with princes and princesses marrying not for love but for political advantage.

3.      PHILAUTIA

Philautia is self-love, which can be healthy or unhealthy. Today we would probably equate this with self esteem, good or bad.

Ok, now for the types of love mentioned in the Bible, in ascending order…

4.      EROS

Eros is erotic, sexual or passionate love, and is the type most akin to our modern construct of romantic love. In Greek mythology, it is a form of madness brought about by one of Cupid’s arrows. It is the gooey feeling inside, the flutters in the stomach, and sexual arousal. While many men just want this type of love, most women hope it grows into one of the next two kinds of love.

5.      STORGE

Storge is family love, especially the love between parents and children. It is dependent on familiarity and dependence upon, rather than hanging on personal qualities. It’s the love that says, I may not like you or agree with your choices, but I will love you because you are family.”

6.      PHILIA

Philia is friendship love, or shared goodwill. It is friendship founded on mutual benefit, companionship, dependability and goodness. In Aussie lingo it is mateship, inferring close and reliable friends, and in this sense my wife can also be my closest friend.

7.      AGAPE

 

The highest form of love is agape love, which is unconditional and even unmerited love. It’s the love God has for us, and it is independent of who we are, what we do or what we say. This kind of love stands firm and gives its all, even when it is not reciprocated…

John 3:16 (ESV Strong's)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

The word agape is demonstrated in Luke 15, where the Father waits and then welcomes so lavishly the wayward son, who is not deserving any love. It is unconditional love! And it makes the recipient of that love very content and secure!

 

 

FEED MY SHEEP

 

John 21:15-19

 

A really interesting play between the two most common forms of love in the Bible occurs in John 15.

 

Peter, you might remember, had publicly denied Christ 3 times, and then the cock crowed. Jesus, after His resurrection, now publicly asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him, and then each time commands him to feed the sheep. It is forgiveness and public restoration, but if we delve deeper, there is an interesting use of two Greek words for love. Twice Jesus uses agape, and Peter answers phileo. The final time, Jesus uses philia… let me paraphrase the passage like this…

 

John 21:15-17 (ESV Strong's)

 

“Simon, son of John, do you love me unconditionally more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you as a brother.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me unconditionally?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you like a brother.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me like a brother?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you like a brother.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

 

Could it be that Jesus, calling Peter to unconditional love, saw the difficulty Peter had responding and “lowered the bar” to allow Peter to connect? Some commentators think so. Interestingly, the next verse after this talks about the sacrifice Peter must make, even giving his life, which is an agape form of love!

 

WHAT DOES LOVE LOOK LIKE?

Let’s be honest, when God speaks of His love, Christ's love, He is talking about the highest form of love. He offers us unconditional, unending, unwavering love in the for, of His Son Jesus, and He asks us to show this kind of love to those around us.

John 15:13 (ESV Strong's)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

 

Christ's love not demonstrated is nothing more than a feeling, and love demonstrated during times of pain and trials, self-sacrificing love, agape love is something even the world will take notice of!

 

WHAT DOES CHRIST’S LOVE LOOK LIKE?

 

John 15:9 (ESV Strong's)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

 

The visible expression of Christ's love is seen in His Son Jesus Christ. So let’s look at the love of Christ…

 

1.      CHRIST’S LOVE IS DIVINE

 

Christ's love is divine in origin, it’s not something human, but supernatural…

 

1 John 4:16 (ESV Strong's)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 

It does not say that God loves, it says that God IS love.  So love is who God is, and that love has existed between the members of the Trinity for all eternity. That means Christ's love never fades or fails.

 

Psalms 136:1 (ESV Strong's)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

 

When you come to Jesus, a whole new dimension of love opens up to you. After 30 years of walking with Christ, I must confess I still cannot fathom love so divine, so profound and so timeless.  We need a love that will not let us down, and this is the love God gives us in Christ.

 

Ephesians 3:17-19 (ESV Strong's)

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 

2.      CHRIST’S LOVE IS SELF-GIVING

 

Second, Christ’s love is self-giving. We see this in Jesus’ life and especially in his crucifixion—Christ gave his very life for us.

 

Human love may include feelings of positive regard for another, and it may even include kindness, but divine love takes kindness to the ultimate degree. It involves the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of another.

 

Romans 5:8 (ESV Strong's)

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

3.      CHRIST’S LOVE IS IMPARTIAL

 

Jesus Christ’s love is impartial. Jesus did not die only for his friends, He died for the entire world (see Jn 3:16), a world in rebellion against God that hated and despised Him.

 

Paul explains it well… Human love is usually extended toward those we believe are deserving of it.

 

Romans 5:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

We tend to love only those who love us. But Christ's love is fundamentally different: while we were sinners, even enemies of God, he sent his Son to die for us. This is agape love, not something that you earn, not even something you deserve, it is love that transcends what we do or say, and it is available to all.

 

If a Muslim enters our church, can you love him? If a gay person or a transgender comes in here, can you love them? We say yes in principle, but how could you demonstrate that love? Would you have a gay person to your home for dinner? Christ's love is impartial, and Christ ate with sinners when He was on earth. He never condoned their sin, He just loved them!

 

4.      CHRIST’S LOVE IS CREATES THE VALUE OF THE OBJECT

 

 

Fourth, Christ’s love creates the value of its object. This is an important fact that we as believers often overlook.

 

Some people assume that God loves us because he sees something valuable and sacred in us. We reason, “We must be worth something if God loves us.”

 

The truth is that God does not love us because He sees something of value in us… no, we are worth something simply because God loves us, because we bear His image. Martin Luther said that God’s love creates our attractiveness; it is not our attractiveness that generates God’s love. We are fallen and undeserving of God’s love. Yet he loves us unconditionally with His agape love. God loves us because He is love, not because of anything within us!

 

 

Think of the story of the Prodigal son. He wanted out of the family in order to gain his inheritance. His self-centredness and moral destitution didn’t merit his father’s affection. But his father persisted in loving him, so that as soon as he saw he was returning home, his father ran to embrace him.

 

Luke 15:20 (ESV Strong's)

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

 

This is a picture of Christ's love for us. Just as the father ran to his son, welcoming him with open arms, so God stretched out his arms on the cross and welcomed us home. Today, this divine love is available to you too, and when you come to Him you will find true value as a human being forevermore.

 

5.      CHRIST’S LOVE IS UNDETERRED

 

Loving someone when they throw it back in your face is hard. It’s hard enough to love someone when they do not even notice you’re alive, but loving someone who actively attacks you and seeks your destruction is a superhuman, even a divine thing.

 

Jesus in the cross, in pain and agony, facing certain death, looked upon those bent on His destruction, those who hated Him more than anything in the world and said,

 

Luke 23:34 (ESV Strong's)

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

 

Christ’s love was undeterred, it never gave up, it loved when it was abused back.

 

6.      CHRIST’S LOVE NEVER FAILS

 

The beautiful passage of 1 Corinthians 13 includes these verses…

 

1 Corinthians 13:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

 

The love of God never fails. Human love, even that of the best intentions, fails. People get hurt, people move on, people pass away… at some point human love fails.  Whatever you face right now, God’s love never fails. However hard things are, however mean or evil people might be, whatever you think of yourself, God’s love never fails. Why? Because God is love and God is eternal, and He never fails.

 

Christ is the alpha and Omega, He has no beginning and no end. If you don’t give your life to Jesus, you will go to hell. I didn’t say it, God says it, and despite inflation, the wages of sin remains the same… death (Romans 6:23).

 

But if you come to the love of Christ, His love manifests in you and, because He promises to take you to Heaven, your love becomes eternal too, because it is His love in you.

 

7.      CHRIST’S LOVE IS AVAILABLE FOR YOU THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT

 

I cannot explain Christ’s love for us, but I know we all desperately need it. We need to be saved from our sin, we need to know we have Heaven when we die, and we need to know we have heaven in our hearts right now. Every single one of us needs to know we are loved, to sense this uncompromising, unending, unconditional love that God has for us.

 

We know we need it, and in this place we sense His love. But how can we share this same love with a sick, twisted and dying world? God in His infinite wisdom chooses to show His love through His people.

 

John 13:34-35 (ESV Strong's)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

We are God’s billboard for His love. But this is not about trying to manifest enough love for someone you hate or dislike. It is this… knowing God so closely, so intimately that His love just shines through us.

 

That is undeterred, divine and supernatural love, and that is Christ's love. In this church, in every church, we need that kind of love.

 

Let me share a story about undeterred yet divine love shining through.

 

A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE

 

Romans 5:5 (ESV Strong's)

hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

 

Christ's love poured into our hearts, or as the King James says, shed abroad in our hearts... let me share a real-life story of God’s divine, agape love taking over where human love fails.

 

Corrie Ten Boom was imprisoned in Ravensbrück concentration camp during World War 2 for helping  Jews escape Nazi persecution. Her parents and sister died there, but due to a clerical error, she miraculously survived. After the war, she became a Christian speaker, and after speaking at a Munich church in 1947, a bald man stepped forward to greet her.

 

She knew this man well; he’d been one of the most vicious guards at Ravensbrück, one who had mocked the women prisoners as they showered. “It came back with a rush,” she wrote, “the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man.

And now this same man was pushing his hand out to shake hers, and saying: “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course — how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?  But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face to face with one of my captors, and my blood seemed to freeze.

“You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there… But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein” — again the hand came out —“will you forgive me?”

And I stood there — I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven — and I could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply by asking forgiveness?

The soldier stood there expectantly, waiting for Corrie to shake his hand. She wrote,  “I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.”

Standing there before the former S.S. man, Corrie remembered that forgiveness is an act of the will — not an emotion. “Jesus, help me!” she prayed. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”  Corrie thrust out her hand. Then she reported this…

”And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart.”

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then. But even so, I realised it was not my love, it was His love in me. I had tried, and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

WE ALL NEED TO SHOW HIS LOVE TODAY

 

Have you tried to love someone who seemed unlovable? Have you felt devoid of love, yet known you have to show Christ's love despite how you feel.

 

Love is a decision, not a feeling. And where our love stops, God’s love takes over!

 

I have even this past few weeks been attacked without mercy, and I found myself needing to forgive and to show the love of Christ to those who seemingly hate me. Some of you here face this challenge, the challenge of showing God’s love to someone who seems unlovable, someone who maybe even returns hatred for your love, venom for your kindness. Maybe you have tried before, and been hurt, yet you know this person, family member, friend or maybe ex-partner, ex-friend or possibly even a total stranger, need to see God’s limitless love shining through you.

 

1 John 4:19-21 (ESV Strong's)

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 

Remembrance Day Sermon 2018

This Remembrance Day Sermon is on the 11th hour of the 11th day, 2018. That is 100 years to the month, day, hour and Minute since the armistice was declared ending the fighting of the Great War, November 11, 1918.

Australia had almost half a million men enlist, from a population of less than 5 million at the time, so that is almost 10th of the entire population or nearly 40% of all eligible males between 18 and 44 enlisted to fight. For a small nation, the newest nation in the world at the time, our involvement was extraordinary, and the Australian casualty rate was the highest for any nation in the war at 64.8%.

The first British and Commonwealth soldier killed was Private John Parr on the 21st August, 1914 in Belgium, aged 17. The last allied soldier killed was American Sergeant Henry Gunther, ages 23, killed at one minute to 11 am on November the 11th, 1918. One minute before armistice took effect. In between was up to 40 million casualties, including 20 million killed, soldiers and civilians.

 

They called the First World War the war to end all wars, but little did they know that only 21 years later the world would be plunged into an even bigger war against evil and tyrannical foes.

 

The fact is, we will never know peace in this world because, as Jeremiah noted

 

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV Strong's)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

 

 

So to celebrate this Remembrance Day sermon, 100 years since that first armistice, I want to simply highlight the role our brave, young soldiers played in fulfilling history and Biblical prophecy in the war to end all wars.  The action I speak of took place in Palestine, far from the Western front, but prophetically speaking this was the front line. It is my prayer that as we remember, so we shall be inspired in this Remembrance Day sermon to stand and fight for our people in our generation against the tyranny and evil invading our culture.

 

THE WAY TO JERUSALEM

 

Jesus lamented and wept over the Holy City of Jerusalem…

 

Matthew 23:37 (ESV Strong's)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

 

He knew the pain and tragedy that this city would experience, and His Heart broke for the people.

 

Jerusalem has long been a city in conflict. Destroyed in AD 70 by the future Roman emperor Titus, it has changed hands many times, and for most of the last 1000 years it was under Muslim control.  In fact, the Islamic Ottoman Empire had ruler Jerusalem and Palestine for 400 years leading up to the First World War, which they entered on the German side.

 

Crusades, generals and empires came and went in that time, but still Jerusalem remained in Muslim hands. In 1917, British forces tried repeatedly to invade Palestine but were repelled by the strong and well entrenched garrison at Beersheba in southern Palestine. Jerusalem could only be liberated by opening up the road from Beersheba. By the time the Australian Light Horse arrived on the scene, the situation was dire. Several attacks on the city had failed. The light horsemen were low on water, and they knew that they must either take the heavily fortified town of Beersheba, or face a 14 hour trek back to their lines to get precious water.

 

So on the 31st of October 1917, a bunch of crazy Aussies stood poised to mount a suicidal frontal attack against overwhelming odds, which was destined to become the last great Calvary charge in history!

 

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT HORSEMEN!

 

800 young Aussies from the Light Horse lined up on their horses called Walers for a suicidal charge at the 4,500 Turkish entrenched in their fortified positions, some 6 km away in the town of Beersheba. Outnumbered nearly 6 to 1, and without artillery support, the first wave started at a trot, then opened to a gallop, as the Turks lobbed shells into their lines, killing many. But these young Aussies didn’t flinch in the face of attack, they opened up into a full gallop, emu plumes flying from their slouch hats.

 

The Turks began to panic, and in their panic found they could not lower the sights of their guns fast enough to target the oncoming Aussies, so the shells exploded harmlessly over their heads and behind them. The light horsemen screamed and charged on faster and faster as the Turkish machine guns were brought to bear. But again the charge was so bold and so fast and intense, the machine gunners in their panic could not lower their sights sufficiently also, so the bullets flew over the horsemen’s heads.

 

They hit the front trench and leapt it at a single bound, then did the same for the reserve trench and on into the streets of Beersheba, and by sundown the town was theirs! All of the 19 wells of the town had been mined and a German officer was starting to blow them. If he succeeded both the Australians and the entire town would die of thirst.  As the Lord smiled on our troops that day, he was able to only blow up 2, and 17 were preserved.

 

OUR BOYS DID THE IMPOSSIBLE

 

In typical Aussie fashion, one trooper was asked why he kept charging so fiercely towards Beersheba. He replied, “Beersheba… Some joker knocked off the second half of the sign… I thought we were charging towards beer!”

 

What 11 Crusades, what the genius of Napoleon and the might of the British army had failed to do, 800 fresh-faced Australian Light Horsemen had achieved, and the way was open to finally set Jerusalem free from Muslim domination. God used the smallest and youngest nation on earth to set His city free!

 

By the time the British and Australian troops approached Jerusalem, the Turks began to run in panic, almost without firing a shot. On December 17 1917 Jerusalem was freed from 400 years of Muslim occupation... Something worth writing a Remembrance Day sermon about!

 

Our boys stood in the face of overwhelming opposition and were used of God to change the course of world history! And of course, much of the 2nd light horse regiment was drawn from this very area… Woombye!

 

THE REMEMBRANCE DAY SERMON IS... NOW IT IS OUR TURN

 

Right now our nation is under attack. Never before have we seen such a concerted, insidious attack, that is targeting the very moral fabric of our nation. Make no mistake, what we see today is not tolerance and it’s not political change, it is an invasion by an enemy seeking to destroy and dominate our culture and our children!

 

Proverbs 14:34 (ESV Strong's)

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

 

While I am proud today to be an Australian for what our forefathers did, I am ashamed to be an Australian for what our politicians and media have done! We have to do more than write a Remembrance Day sermon!

 

As our society’s sin is piling up, and as we allow same-sex marriage, gender fluidity and worst of all, late-term abortions, we face a choice, church.  We can slip quietly into oblivion, keeping our mouths shut as we float along, keeping the peace, being tolerant of every minority group except Christians, being politically correct... Or we stand and fight.

 

Those 800 light horsemen could have turned back, they could have said its all too hard, they could have taken the easy way out. But they decided to take a chance, to make a stand, to mount a suicidal charge into the teeth of the Turkish guns, believing God was with them… and He was!

 

If we choose to fight, and pray, and believe for our nation, we do not stand alone, but our God stands with us, and the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world!

 

And fight we must, not just for the Lord, not just for our churches and our way of life,  not just for what is right or wrong, we must fight for our children, for future generations that face destruction because or our complacency!

 

IT’S TIME TO MAKE A STAND

 

This coming year you and I face a choice… to quietly tow society’s party line, to slink off and avoid criticism from our friends, or to stand and fight for what we believe in. It's time to live what this Remembrance Day sermon inspires.

 

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV Strong's)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

 

We need to do this, church. We must mount up, face those spiritual guns, and stand and fight against every thought that is contrary to the Word of God.

 

We don’t use insults and mockery and accusations and threats, but we use divine weapons, the weapons with which we can win. We fight with weapons like prayer and faith and unity, love in the face of persecution, the truth in the face of lies, and choosing to honour and respect those who hate us, even when they continue to hate.  The 800 light horsemen fought with horse and gun and bayonet, but we fight with truth, and love and prayer... thats what a Remembrance Day sermon should emphasise.

 

So in this coming battle, do not be surprised at the venom of the attack, even from fellow Christians. Jesus said,

 

John 15:18-19 (ESV Strong's)

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

 

Those who love compromise won’t love us. But I for one am prepared to stand and fight for what I believe in, to fight for what is right, anywhere, and any time!  We cannot win our nation by hating more than they do…. Ours is the way of the Saviour, the way of truth in the face of bigotry, joy in the face of fear and above all love in the face of persecution.

 

In this Remembrance Day sermon I’m going to ask you to pause and reflect on our descendants fallen on far flung fields of battle over the last century, then I will pray. But as you reflect, think also of the fight ahead, and join me as I pray and commit to continuing the spiritual legacy of the Anzacs and those brave light horsemen. Let us face the next year with a firm resolve to fight the good fight shoulder to shoulder.

 

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them."

 

And what’s more, Lord, after this Remembrance Day sermon we promise to continue to serve and stand for our master in these dark days. We pledge to do play our part in the salvation of our nation, so heavily attacked in recent says. We stand together to say, “Enough!” Satan, we cast you out of our nation, our parliament and our society and we claim Australia, the nation divinely chosen to set Jerusalem free, as the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit!

 

Welcome to the war room, and like the movie, we fight on our knees. Let’s promise to pray for our nation!

Melva Kajewski- Be Not Deceived

Come and hear Melva Kajewski share a powerful and challenging message on deception... be not deceived!

Deception permeates our society, and it is even sneaking into the church, and Melva takes no prisoners with this sermon!  Funny thing about deception is that by its very nature you do not recognise it is happening.  So we believers can be subject to deception and not even realise it.  In fact., we can think that we are doing just fine when all along you are being compromised by the enemy!

Edmund Burton once said, "All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."  This applies to being deceived.  If we do nothing, if we float along ignorant or apathetic, we will see evil thing begin to triumph.

But if we are aware, if we are open to the voice of God, we can make a stand against the things that turn our heads and ruin our testimony before a needy world.  And our world needs us more right now than it ever has before, because we have an incredible opportunity to become salt and light in an increasingly dark and deceived world!

Ask yourself, "Am I allowing deception into my life, even in the things that outwardly seem to be religious and aligned with God?"  I recognise that this is uncomfortable, but Melva shows us that we must all as believers examine ourselves and our hearts to make sure we are not deceived. Again, the very nature of deception precludes you from seeing that you are actually deceived, so I believe that this is an important and life-changing message to bot us as individual believers and to the church as a whole!

So, listen to this message and keep an open heart, because we need to be pure and holy before the Lord in every way.  Enjoy this excellent and challenging message...

The battle with sin is the final topic in this series. So far, I have laid out reasons why I believe the writing is on the wall for our nation. Never before have we seem the proliferation of sin across our society on the scale we are seeing today, and mark my word, we will reap what we are sowing in the lives of the next generations.

We are engaged in a battle with sin to the death with sin, both in our own lives and across society! Make no mistake, these battles we see are not about fairness, equality or catering for a small minority who want to express their sexuality, it’s not about inclusiveness and love is love or my body is my body, this is a battle to the death. Either we kill sin, or sin kills us!

Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong's)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

This war is not just a physical battle, it is spiritual, and it is a life and death battle for the very survival of life as we know it.

 

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong’s)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

So today we will examine how we can fight and win in this terrifying war against sin...

 

 

CHECK THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT

 

The first thing we must realise is that our conscience is our friend, not our enemy in the battle against sin. Our society tells us the conscience should be seared, dulled or hardened, because it makes us feel guilty for the sins we commit, and we don’t like that! Society says, “It’s not your fault,” so instead of recognising sin we ignore it, suppress it and if confronted by it, we shift the blame to our parents, our spouse, our upbringing, our situation or our recently diagnosed mental illness.

 

When the check engine light comes on, society urges us not to look deeper and find the cause, but to put a sticker over it and ignore it! They reason, if you ignore it long enough, maybe the light will go out. Meanwhile sin rises victorious, God’s standards are flaunted, our children are corrupted and healthy babies are murdered, and all the while we hear no evil, see no evil and say nothing!

 

Ezekiel 3:18 (ESV Strong's)

If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.

 

It is time to fight and kill sin in our own life and across our society, because if we don’t kill him, he will surely stop at nothing to kill us!

 

THE BATTLE WITH SIN RAGES

 

The apostle Paul faced this very dilemma in the battle with sin in Romans 7. Listen to what He says…

 

Romans 7:14-15 (ESV Strong's)

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

 

Romans 7:19-20 (ESV Strong's)

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

 

Romans 7:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

 

Paul struggled with sin, he fought the good fight, and so must we. Church, we must never put a sticker over our conscience and think we are ok, because sin will start killing us off right there. The battle rages, and though we may not totally win until we are with the Lord, we must fight and kill off sin the best we can. We start in our own lives, and as we win this battle we earn the right to speak into the nation!

 

KILLING OFF SIN

 

Colossians 3:5 (ESV Strong's)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

 

God calls us to show mercy and love to one another in this battle with sin, and to love our enemies, even if we don’t agree with them, even if they flaunt sin in our faces and attack us. I am not suggesting hatred to gays, transgenders, abortionists or wayward politicians. I’m suggesting love to them, kindness and respect. However, in the battle with sin I will not show kindness respect and love to the evils they perpetrate! Love people, even the evil ones, but kill off sin!

 

It is time to kill off sin, to fight sin to the death and win! But let me first tell you How sin is not put to death, in our lives and in our community…

 

1.      SIN IS NOT KILLED BY COVERING IT UP

 

You can hide your sin, cover it up and no one will know… except you and God.

 

Proverbs 28:13 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,

but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

 

Covering it up, putting a sticker on your check engine light, actually leaves you in a more dangerous position that facing your sin and dealing with it. Covering sin doesn’t kill it, it makes it more dangerous, and starts a progression that leads to death…

 

James 1:15 (ESV Strong's)

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

 

2.      SIN IS NOT KILLED BY INTERNALISING IT

 

Forsaking the outward expression of your sin, but still harbouring it in your mind and imagination does not kill the enemy in this battle with sin. Outside you look good, and no one knows the sin that still lurks within. Jesus warned religious leaders about this inner battle with sin...

 

Matthew 23:24-25 (ESV Strong's)

You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

 

Cleaning the outside doesn’t make the inside clean, so internalising your sin doesn’t set you free, regardless of whether you look good on the outside to your friends or family.

 

3.      SIN IS NOT KILLED BY EXCHANGING IT

 

Heroin addicts are often treated with methadone, substituting one drug for another… it is less destructive, but the addiction remains. Substituting one sin for another does not solve the problem and it does not kill sin. Replacing the sin of fornication with pornography does not cure your lust.

 

Proverbs 23:7 (KJV Strong's)

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

 

All sin is sin, so exchanging one sin for another does not kill sin, it just morphs it!

 

4.      SIN IS NOT KILLED BY REPRESSING IT

 

In this battle with sin People try to repress sin in many ways. They try and drown it in alcohol or drugs, suppress it by escapism in movies and TV shows, and they try and repress one destructive relationship by starting another destructive relationship.  But sin is irrepressible… drink and get high all you like, when you sober up guess what… your sin is still there, bigger than ever!

 

Wherever you go, however you try and escape, sin will hunt you down on this battle with sin! But here’s the great news… God will also hunt you down, and find you in your sin.

 

Psalms 139:7-10 (ESV Strong's)

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

 

You can change jobs, change churches, change town, change country, change marriage, but your sin still goes with you. Prinze God, that your Saviour goes with you also. So don’t repress, confess.

 

 

5.      SIN IS NOT KILLED BY UNTIL THE CONSCIENCE IS CLEAR

 

Sin is only killed when your conscience is clear. Remember, your conscience is the check engine light, so when the underlying problem is solved, the light goes off. Don’t stop fighting in this battle with sin until your conscience is purified, because partial obedience is disobedience!

 

Acts 24:16 (ESV Strong's)

So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

 

A clear conscience is a wonderful thing as we mentioned last week. While ever sin is present, even if it is tolerated, then a clear conscience is unattainable. So don’t try and substitute a dulled, a seared or a hardened conscience for the real thing. Sin isn’t dead until the check engine light is off!

 

12 STEP PLAN TO VICTORY IN THE BATTLE WITH SIN

 

Killing off sin entirely is not going to happen this side of glory, but that does not mean we stop fighting the battle with sin.

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV Strong's)

we all, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.

 

We should expect our victories over sin to be ever increasing even if the final victory will not be seen until we reach Heaven.  Indeed, the ultimate victory will be ours, and every blow you land for righteousness is a victory for God and for His holiness!

 

So despite the recent legislative changes, I will not stay silent, and I will not stop fighting for what is right and godly! I refuse to keep silent and fade away, and I will obey the laws of this land only up until they contradict the expressed law of God.

 

So if we want to keep fighting sin in battle with sin, and if you want to become anything in your life for Jesus you will need to keep fighting. What are the 12 steps towards killing off sin?

 

1.      DECIDE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

 

Victory over sin starts with a decision. If you are content to just continue with your sin, if you are content to sear or dull your conscience and let it all slide along, you will never have victory over the sin that is destroying you. You have to decide, enough is enough.

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

 

Contentment is the enemy of improvement, so victory over sin starts with a decision, a decision that you are not content to be ruled by your sin, to not accept the status quo. A decision to change is required, that enough is enough, and I want better!

 

2.      CONFESS YOUR SIN

 

1 John 1:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Don’t ignore your sin, and don’t excuse it away. God will not zap you, fry you or embarrass you, just confess your sin and let Him forgive you. Murder, lust, greed, it doesn’t matter what it is, He promises that if you confess your sin He will forgive you, so take Him at His Word and do it!

 

3.      ABSTAIN FROM FLESHLY LUSTS

 

I remember chasing my kids, and they would scream and run away, crying “Don’t! Stop!” When I did stop, they would walk back closer and closer to try and make me chase then again. Their “Don’t! Stop!” Became, “Don’t stop!”

 

1 Peter 2:11 (ESV Strong's)

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

 

John MacArthur gives simple but profound advice on killing off sin… “Do you want to put to death the lusts in your heart? Then stop entertaining them. Peter does not prescribe a program of therapy. He does not suggest that such sin be treated as an addiction. He simply says abstain. Quit doing it. You have no business indulging such thoughts. Put them away at once.” [i]

 

My family had a cattle farm in Maryborough, and we also agisted cattle. We sent those cows off to the butcher and felt nothing, but our house cows, the ones we grew up with, and cuddled and cared for, these we could never butcher! While ever you dabble in sin, flirt with it or mollycoddled it, while ever you cuddle it, care for it or enjoy it, you will never kill it! To kill off sin, you not only need to stop it, but you also need to avoid not entertain it in the battle with sin!

 

4.      MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH

 

We may stop actually doing a sin, but we often kind of leave the door open to doing it in the battle with sin!

 

Romans 13:14 (ESV Strong's)

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

 

In other words refuse to accommodate in any way anything that might lead you back into that sin! If you don’t want to fall, don’t walk where it is slippery. If you have an issue with gluttony, don’t pile up your supermarket trolley with junk food. If you have an issue with lust, don’t surf porn sites. If you have an issue with gossip, walk away from people sharing secrets with you.

 

By doing this, you cut off sin before it gets the chance to grow and breed. It is easier to pull out a baby tree than cut down the fully grown specimen!

 

 

5.      FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS

 

Whatever you look at determines what you become, because as Jesus said,

 

Luke 11:34 (ESV Strong's)

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

 

If you look at porn you will lust. If you watch violent movies or play violent computer games you will get angrier. If you hang around pubs you will drink. If you hang around church, you will grow more Christlike.

 

2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong's)

we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

 

Hebrews 12:2 (ESV Strong's)

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith

 

So to kill off sin in this battle with sin, don’t constantly look at it, don’t hang around it, don’t entertain it and don’t camp outside it’s lair. Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus, and on things eternal, for whatever you look at you become…

 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

 

 

6.      FILL YOUR MIND WITH GOODNESS IN THE BATTLE WITH SIN

 

If you decide not to look at sin or anything leading to it, where do you look. It’s like when Fiona and I are shopping and she takes me into a lingerie store… I don’t know where to look, where to stand, and anything you do, you’re going to look like a pervert!

 

Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 

Job 31:1 (ESV Strong's)

“I have made a covenant with my eyes;

 

So look away from sin, and fill your mind with Jesus and with good and godly things… Christian or wholesome teaching, books, videos, music, TV shows, and in particular…

 

7.      FILL YOUR HEART WITH GOD’S WORD

 

Psalms 119:9-11 (ESV Strong's)

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

 

Reading the Bible every day, coming to a Bible preaching church, memorising Bible passages, do whatever you can to focus on the Word of God, and fill your heart with His Word!

 

I read and even memorise God’s Word a lot. I am amazed at how often God’s Word comes out of my mouth in general conversation.

 

The next step is…

 

8.      PRAY WITHOUT CEASING

 

You cannot live a triumphant life over sin without prayer. Many know this verse, but note context…

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV Strong's)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Being in a constant state of prayer is an awesome way to kill off sin and its effects in your life in the battle with sin. Notice the preceding and following verses? Praying constantly is about rejoicing and giving thanks constantly too! A gratitude attitude, being thankful for everything you have, is a great way to kill off the effects of sin and help you focus on Jesus and eternal things.

 

 

9.      GUARD YOUR HEART

 

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV-WS)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

 

You can have a few victories over sin, but you will not kill it unless you remain on guard against it. The enemy will not take your desire for holiness in your life lying down!  The devil has a habit of dressing up sin and reintroducing it. So you need to guard your heart!

 

 

10.   DISCIPLINE YOURSELF

 

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (ESV Strong's)

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

 

No athlete, or artist, or musician or Christian becomes great without discipline. We live in a society that applauds discipline for athletes, yet excuses lack of discipline in more important aspects of life. Top athletes are excused for misdemeanours in bars or on the road. Politicians with sordid personal lives are celebrated if they make the country prosperous.

 

To be victorious over sin in your life, you need to become disciplined. Hebrews explains…

 

Hebrews 12:11 (ESV Strong's)

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

Discipline is painful, it takes time, effort and true commitment, but the long term gains are amazing, and allow you to kill off areas of sin in your life to a large degree. It takes time, and discipline to reach everything God has destined for you to be in your life, but this leads to…

 

11.   RENEW YOUR MIND- CREATE NEW HABITS

 

Romans 12:2 (ESV Strong's)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

As you fill your mind with the things of God, especially the Word of God, your mind is being renewed day by day. Renewing of your mind is not simply a mental exercise, it must have a practical outworking. Renewing of your mind causes you to break old, destructive habits and establish new, righteous habits.

 

A habit is an series of actions you repeatedly do until they become automatic. Any addiction is really a powerful bad habit, be it drug, alcohol, porn, spending, gossiping, anger outbursts or gambling! But you can dismantle bad habits and build good habits that enhance your life rather than destroy it. Our society loves to call things addictions and enslave people forever, but my experience is that God can break bad habits, and He can also establish good ones, as your mind is renewed.

 

Latest research indicates that it takes around 66 days to break a bad habit or establish a new one. [ii]

 

When God breaks a habit off your life it can be very quick, because His Spirit can destroy the works of the enemy. One thing is for sure… if you decide in your heart to form a good habit, such as reading the Bible every morning, it can be a powerful force in your life. I personally discovered this when at University I attended a Navigator’s group and signed a pledge called, “No Bible, no breakfast.” This commitment led to me reading God’s Word first thing almost every day, and hardly ever eating breakfast!

 

 

12.   DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT

 

I know sin and the devil are mighty adversaries, and relentless foes, but my Bible says,

 

1 John 4:4 (ESV Strong's)

he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

 

In the battle with sin, sin will fight, he will fight dirty, he will use underhanded tactics, he will be relentless, he will tempt and call and flirt and suck you in. You will have times of great victories, then some defeat will drag you back down. You will break some bad habits, and not others. But through it all, no matter what happens, stand strong, gather around people who love and support you and in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.” You will get tired of fighting, it will sometimes seem that all is lost, that the sin is winning, that troubles are never ending, but that is when you have to focus on Christ, resist the enemy and decide to fight on!

 

James 4:7 (ESV Strong's)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

This is the promise… resist him, and because he is a coward, he will just flee from you.

 

The original Rocky movie is the story of a fighter who rises up the ranks to become champion of the world, then, in all the luxury and comfort of the victories, he loses his edge, and his title. His trainer decides to take him back to the smelly alley and leaky taps, back to where he came from, and over time he puts the fight back into the fighter.

 

So when it comes to sin, don’t lose the fight, don’t lose the desire to win against a merciless and destructive foe! Never give up, never give an inch, resist, and see him flee! It is time to put the fight back into the fighter!

 

1 John 3:9 (ESV Strong's)

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

 

Today I speak to those who are tired of this battle with sin, run down and sick of struggling with sin and with life. I say to you, stand strong,

fight hard, form the right habits, resist and stand firm, knowing that the Lord is in us and He is greater than the enemy in the battle with sin!

 

Our society may have given into sin on so many levels, but now is not the time to roll over and accept it as normal. Now is the time to stand up and declare that we will not go quietly, we will stand for what is right and godly in this world, and by God we will win!

 

Killing off sin in the battle with sin is not about seeking legalistic righteousness, it’s not about judgement of others, or forcing obedience to laws, it’s about seeking  God with all your heart and seeking holiness in Him. You cannot be holy, but you can decide to yield to Him and let ahis holiness dwell in you!

 

Today, if you are tired of fighting, I want to pray with you and stand with you.

 

Today we join our shields together.

[i] Vanishing conscience Chapter 7

[ii] https://dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/545/docs/Wendy_Wood_Research_Articles/Habits/wood.neal.2007psychrev_a_new_look_at_habits_and_the_interface_between_habits_and_goals.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your conscience is illustrated in a scene from the TV show “The Big Bang Theory,” Sheldon and Penny are driving in her car, and Sheldon points out that the check engine light is on. Penny replies that it is fine. Sheldon says that it was installed by the car manufacturer to tell her that everything is not fine, she assures him that it’s been on for a month, and not to worry about it… the light means nothing. Sheldon, worried, then asks if there’s a check the check engine light light, and Penny later says, “I need to put a sticker over that!”

This is a graphic illustration of what is happening to the human conscience. Our conscience is God’s built in monitor, alerting us to the moral quality of what we do or plan to do.  It is the innate ability to sense right from wrong, and only humans have this ability. When we violate our conscience, it condemns us, triggering feelings of shame, anguish, regret, anxiety, disgrace, guilt and even fear. When we follow our conscience, it commends us, bringing joy, peace, self-respect, and well-being.

Titus 1:15 (ESV Strong's)

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.

 

While your conscience is a God-given safeguard for your life, our society seems hell-bent on destroying it, because we don’t want anyone to ever feel bad or guilty, and therefore whatever you do is never your fault but someone else’s, or your upbringing, or your genes, or a mental disease.

 

And so we ignore the check engine light of our conscience, eventually putting a sticker over it so we can’t see it, believing then that everything is alright!

 

CONSCIENCE- THE SOUL’S SKYLIGHT

 

Ps John MacArthur tells us that, “the conscience functions like a skylight, not a light bulb. It lets light into the soul; it does not produce its own. Its effectiveness is determined by the amount of pure light we expose it to, and by how clean we keep it. Cover it or put it in total darkness and it ceases to function.

 

Your conscience is a sensitive and precious thing, but we can damage it and thereby decease it’s function without too much difficulty. Yet despite the way we try and dull our conscience, putting a sticker over it, it does not change the fact that it is an indicator of a more significant problem.

 

Romans 2:15 (ESV Strong's)

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.

 

So despite how much we attempt to dull or blunt our consciences, they still accuse us and confront us of sin, either now or one day in the future. Your conscience is the check engine light of life. You can ignore it, cover it up or put a sticker over it, and it is not there to just be a light, it is an indicator of a deeper problem, and should not be ignored.

 

We said last week that guilt is what alerts us to sin, and unless you recognise that you have sinned, you cannot be forgiven. Our world’s obsession with absolving people from their guilt means that none of the deeper problems of sin are ever dealt with… because everybody is a victim, it’s never your fault and therefore, you don’t feel guilty, your conscience feels nothing, and no one sins!

 

When you come to Jesus, you can be forgiven and your soul set free from the death and destruction of sin. Why ignore the check engine light, or pretend it means nothing, when you can find out what it means, and deal with the underlying cause?

 

CONSCIENCE AND THE STANDARD WE FOLLOW

 

Every person, or organisation has a set of standards or rules. These differ between people and organisations, and that’s why we as Christians believe that that the Bible is the standard our society should use. Of course, unbelievers and sadly many Christians think that our standards should be subject to the prevailing standards of the day. I don’t! The Bible is God’s Word to us, and His standards do not change with fashions and opinions. Our conscience is not the standard, it is only the check engine light that alerts us when whatever standard we adhere to is violated.

 

The Bible speaks of many different types of consciences, so let’s look at some of them…

 

1.      GOOD CONSCIENCE

 

Acts 23:1 (ESV Strong's)

And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.”

 

The Apostle Paul said he lived with a good conscience, meaning not that he never sinned, but that he had lived as much as possible according to the standards of God. He followed his conscience, and his conscience was based in the standard of God.

 

Having a good conscience does not guarantee being right, because it depends on the standard you are adhering to. Paul’s speaks of his pre-Jesus life persecuting Christians when he says,

 

Acts 26:9 (ESV Strong's)

“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

A good conscience is a good thing, but it alone cannot save you. If all you have to do is follow your conscience, and truth is variable and individual, then an atheist, or Islamic, or Hindu or an anarchist would be saved, because they live according to the standard of their own conscience. A good conscience is only truly powerful when it is based on the truth of the Word of God!

 

 

2.      CLEAR CONSCIENCE

 

Acts 24:16 (ESV Strong's)

So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

 

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you.  In the same way, you cannot control what other people think of you, but you can live at peace with a clear conscience. A clear conscience means blameless, devoid of guilt towards the Lord or any person. Paul is saying in this passage that his conscience affirmed his actions, and no warning bells went off about how he lived and what he said.

 

I strive to lead this church with a clear conscience, and a clear conscience is a wonderful thing. It means you can look back at what you’ve said and done without regret, without guilt and without wanting to replay events to improve on them. In my life, and I hope in yours, the standard is the Bible, and I make no apology for that standard. I have been criticised at times (even last week) for adhering to this standard, but my conscience is clear, and I proclaim God’s standard without regret.

 

I guess the jump is that we adhere to God’s truth, but do so in love, without judgement or attacking the character of others. This is sometimes a difficult thing. To have a clear conscience one needs to keep it clear before God, that is proclaim His truth without compromise, and also keep it clear before man, which is to love even those we disagree with.

 

I can love those I do not agree with, and do so with a clear conscience. Our love for others must reflect God’s love, which is unconditional, that is it is not tied to what they do or say. So regardless of whether others lead a lifestyle I believe is wrong, regardless of whether they attack and accuse me, I can make the godly choice of loving them, and do so with a clear conscience.

 

If I compromise God’s standards to keep the peace or placate others, then my conscience might be clear before men, but it is not so before God! If I am overly harsh and judgemental, and if I mistreat those who do not obey God, then my conscience is clear before God, but not men.

 

It’s a tough balance, and I apologise for sometimes getting it wrong. Passionate people sometimes become judgemental, and compassionate people sometimes become compromised. I endeavour to live my life in a way that when I die even the undertaker is sad! I want to keep a clear conscience, and conscience that is undefiled, between God and myself, and any one else and myself, devoid of any guilt about what I say and do.

 

The dilemma is that when you stand for Christ, ungodly men will attack you, criticise you and try to destroy you. This is clearly happening in today’s world.  So we must love them, even if we don’t agree with them and they are attacking us! That’s why Jesus said

 

Matthew 5:44 (ESV Strong's)

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

 

3.      EVIL CONSCIENCE

 

Paul speaks of another kind of conscience, too.

 

Hebrews 10:22 (ESV Strong's)

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

An evil conscience is one that is so offended and violated by guilt that it screams that we are sinners! This is a horrible way to live, completely riddled by guilt and shame, but it can actually be a good thing. It warns us of our sinful actions and drives us to repentance of our sin, and forgiveness.

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong's)

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

 

In the Old Testament, temple sacrifices were made to cleanse the heart of the people, to cleanse their consciences. But nowadays we do not need to do this, because Jesus has once and for all paid for our sin. Pail says His blood sprinkles us and sets us free from our evil conscience. However, He only does this if we acknowledge our sin, not if we put a sticker over our conscience so we fail to recognise guilt and sin!

 

If you are struggling with your conscience today, the great news is that you can be set free today from this evil conscience that is condemning you and causing guilt.

 

4.      DEFILED CONSCIENCE

 

Titus 1:15 (ESV Strong's)

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.

 

Paul speaks of certain people whose conscience was defiled, but the question is, what kind of conscience is one that is defiled?

 

Defiled means contaminated. Someone with a defiled conscience is so polluted that he cannot differentiate good from evil, because his standard is corrupt. These people are exactly what we see around us today, even in the church, where they depend on their feelings to guide them, not God’s standards.  Paul, before he met Jesus, was just like this… he felt persecuting Christians was right, but he was in error. His conscience was not violated, but it was defiled.

 

Our modern world has countless examples of defiled consciences.  People immediately jump to the wrong conclusions when they see something that formerly was considered quite acceptable. To the pure, all things are pure, but to defiled, Paul says, nothing is pure! So innocent conversations are twisted into sexual innuendo, and innocent actions are viewed as sinister or impure. Even in church, in this moral climate, we cannot have men driving young girls alone.

 

Defiling means dirtying, taking something pure and making it dirty. Today even believers are lowering the standards of the Bible, allowing morality that the Bible clearly does not endorse!

 

Matthew 23:27 (ESV Strong's)

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.

 

This is what people are like even in the church today… we look good, we look pious on the outside, but inside many cases our consciences are defiled, dirty and full of dead men’s bones. Let us not be like that!

 

5.      SEARED CONSCIENCE

 

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV Strong's)

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,

 

We are living in these later days right now, and Paul uses an interesting term… seared. I love Barbecues, and when I cook meat I sear it on both sides… this is called barbecue searing.  But when sinning repeatedly sears your conscience it is not called being sin-sear.

 

The Greek word for seared is kautēriazō, which means to sear, cauterise, brand or, by implication, render insensitive. When cattle are branded with a hot iron, the area becomes insensitive.

 

How is your conscience seared? By repeatedly being run over. It is the slippery slope towards the deadening your conscience. So the first time you offend, you feel really bad and really guilty, but each time you commit this sin, you feel less and less bad about it. Your conscience no longer pricks you, and slowly your conscience is being seared or cauterised.

 

When you cauterise flesh you can stop the flow of blood. When you cauterise your conscience, you stop the flow of the Holy Spirit.

 

An example would be profanity in our society on TV and movies. It used to offend me, and now I barely notice! My conscience has been seared, and it is a slippery slope! Once upon a time the Simpsons was a show that plumbed new lows of morality, but then came SouthPark, and suddenly the Simpsons seem tame!

 

Defile your conscience again and again, and you sear it, stopping God’s flow in your life. Sear it enough, and this leads to …

 

6.      HARDENED CONSCIENCE

 

You may remember Pharaoh in the Exodus.  He was a man who sinned and seared his conscience so much that it became completely hardened to the truth of God. A hardened conscience is one that the Lord cannot break through, and is the end product of repeated searing and dulling.

 

Hebrews 3:13 (ESV Strong's)

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

 

We too are open to such a hardening! How do we avoid this? We keep exhorting or encouraging one another. That’s why we need to keep coming to church, taking every opportunity to meet together and worship as one family. Together we can correct and protect each other from the hardness of repeated, wilful sin!

 

People in the world harden or deaden their consciences, and we see this all the time. The ultimate expression of an almost completely dead conscience is in psychological conditions like narcissism, which is in the rise in our society, and psychopaths like serial killers or nasty businessmen, who never really feel any remorse about what they do.

 

Indeed, we can be saddened and angered by this week’s abortion decision, but we should not be surprised. The same spirit that is behind our humanistic society, that is behind gay marriage and gender fluidity, that same spirit is the spirit of the age. It has hardened people’s consciences to such a degree that they condone murder, but get offended if we show them a picture of the slain baby!

 

 

7.      WEAK CONSCIENCE

 

One last conscience described in the Bible is a weak conscience, and this is one that you and I face as believers, and one that we can love and serve each other in.

 

Scripture describes a weak conscience as one too easily wounded or offended, usually due to some past experience. It does not mean that you are weak as a person or a Christian, it means that your conscience is hypersensitive to a particular area.  Ironically, a weak conscience is more likely to accuse you than a strong conscience.

 

Paul illustrates this with the issue of eating meat offered to idols, which was an issue for some in the Corinthian church. In Corinth, meat was routinely offered to idols and because the idols obviously could not eat the meat, this meat was sold off cheap. Now some believers thought this was inconsequential, because they knew the idols were false and really nothing. But others thought that this was really wrong, and would not touch the stuff!

 

1 Corinthians 8:7-13 (ESV Strong's)

However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

 

The point was that sometimes things are permissible for one Christian but not for another because of conscience, and while meat offered to idols is no longer an issue, we have similar issues today. Alcohol is an example, which is ok for some and taboo for others. What about watching certain movies. What about eating certain foods? Even in this church an issue like speaking in tongues can become inflammatory. Again, there is no right and wrong, but for some they love it and others feel very uncomfortable around it.

 

Paul tells us how to respond, how love responds, how unity responds to these dilemmas of conscience.  We respond by preferring one another, loving each other more than our pet issue.

 

Yet we can live together happily in unity! How? By those who don’t have a problem with it refraining, not because it is wrong but because it hurts others. And those who do have a problem with it not judging the others!

 

I believe we must do all we can to maintain unity and protect our fellow Christians from violating their consciences. I’m a Pentecostal pastor, and I speak in tongues. But if it offends you or makes a visitor uncomfortable, I will choose to refrain! Why, because I love them more than I love my pet doctrine. I appreciate those who care for others in this way, and it shows true maturity when we prefer our brothers consciences.

 

KEEPING A PURE CONSCIENCE

 

So in this modern age, with all its destructive morality and victim mentality, how can we possibly keep a pure, unadulterated conscience?  The trouble with the advice, “Follow your conscience” is that most people follow it like someone following a wheelbarrow—they might be following it, but they direct it wherever they want it to go, and then follow behind.

 

Remember, your conscience is the check engine light of your life. You can not dictate to it, it informs you when you have transgressed. We need to listen to our conscience and be sensitive to its call, confess it and move on.

 

What would you think of a ship's captain who, sailing off a dangerous coast, saw suddenly through the clouds and the mist the flash of a lighthouse but, instead of at once altering his course, decided to go on a little farther and wait for a second or a third flash?

 

So how can we keep our consciences pure, even in this wicked world?

 

1.      CONFESS AND FORSAKE YOUR SIN

 

Proverbs 28:13 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,

but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

 

Modern society tries to teach us that we should ignore the guilt we feel, and legitimise what the Bible calls sin. This attitude, as we saw last week, has caused social gridlock…  “the irresistible search for someone or something to blame colliding with the unmovable unwillingness to accept responsibility.  (Charles Sykes)

 

Unless you recognise sin for what it is, and deal with it by confessing it and seeking forgiveness, you will never be set free to have a pure conscience. While we sit around arguing what is and isn’t acceptable as sin in a shifting moral landscape, while we fight for rights and actions that are clearly wrong, we miss the whole point.

 

Sin is sin, no matter how big or small. So don’t cover it up, don’t dress it up and don’t sear or dull your conscience to the point where you don’t feel it any more. Just acknowledge it, call it sin, confess it and let God’s healing balm of forgiveness flood your soul and your conscience!

 

 

2.      ASK FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILE

 

If you have knowingly wronged another, you may need to approach them and ask their forgiveness. It is not enough to ask God for forgiveness and leave a trail of destruction among those you love that you make no effort to heal.

 

Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

 

So being reconciled is part of the forgiveness and healing journey for your conscience. How do you know if you need to reconcile with someone? A good sign is if that person walks in the room and your conscience is pricked. I have people with whom I have a severed relationship, that I have forgiven and when I meet them, my conscience is clear. Others, when I meet them, things feel very awkward because my conscience might be stirred up. You need to ask God if you must reconcile, or reach out to them in love again.

 

3.      MAKE RESTITUTION

 

Numbers 5:6-7 (ESV Strong's)

“Speak to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the Lord, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.

 

The proportions are not important, the principle is. If you have sinned against someone, do what you can to restore the situation. If you have stolen, pay it back. If you have kept something, give it back. If you have accused someone wrongly, take it back.

 

4.      BE SENSITIVE AND DO NOT PROCRASTINATE

 

Your conscience is a sensitive thing, so listen to it and don’t put this off. Your growth in the things of God will be stunted by your procrastination. If you are serious about walking with God, if you are serious about living for Him, don’t delay, just keep short accounts with God, confess it and move on.

 

Acts 24:16 (ESV Strong's)

So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

 

Some people put off dealing with their guilt, thinking their conscience will clear itself in time. It won’t. Procrastination allows the guilt feelings to fester, generating depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. Guilt feelings often persist long after the original offence is forgotten, and they frequently spill over to other areas of our lives. That’s one reason people often feel guilty and are not sure why. Such confused guilt may be a symptom that something is terribly wrong spiritually.

 

So if your conscience is disturbed right now, ask God to reveal why and deal with it quickly.

 

5.      EDUCATE YOUR CONSCIENCE

 

1 Corinthians 8:7 points out that lack of knowledge often results in a weak conscience, one that is hypersensitive and easily offended. If that is you, don’t violate your conscience, get into the Word of God and educate it on what truth is, and what sin is.

 

You can teach your conscience to focus on God’s truth, rather than operate on feelings. Being controlled by feelings of guilt, violation, victimisation or offence are no way to live.

 

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

Fill your mind with Scripture, and your conscience will be tuned to God. You will be balanced, not weak, not seared and not hardened to truth.

 

RESTORE YOUR CONSCIENCE TODAY

 

Today, is your conscience clear? Is it pure? Have you done something that still leaves you feeling guilty when it comes to mind, or when you see someone or something? Don’t procrastinate, don’t ignore it and don’t put up with it! Confess it now and open the way to move on!

 

Political Correctness is the wrong prescription for our society! As a medical person. I can tell you that incorrectly diagnosing a disease or condition very often results in bigger issues that you started with!

We talked earlier about how the writing is in the wall for our nation if we do not change, and how we as the people of God have failed to make the stand we should have against evils we see around us!  We talked about how we as Christians have been lulled into submission, like the fallow ground we have hardened our hearts to what God calls sin, all in the name of Political Correctness.

Hosea 10:12 (ESV Strong's)

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love;

break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord,

that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

 

In this series I want to resensitise what has for many years become desensitised.  We are so desensitised that we often do not even recognise sin, let alone stand against it. I believe that it is time we break up the crusty, hard shell of our lives, recognise sin for what it is and see again through God’s eyes.

 

In this message I’m going to attack the whole political correctness movement, because I believe that our society has lost the plot when it comes to what you can and cannot say. If you are a fan of Political Correctness, I apologise in advance for offending you, but I for one am over it! I fully expect to face some sort of attack, but somebody has to stand and speak out!  Let me ask the question…

 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SIN IN POLITICAL CORRECTNESS?

 

Part of the problem our society faces is that we don’t call sin “sin” these days, because sin gives rise to guilt, and our culture has declared war in guilt in the name of Political Correctness! What used to be called homosexuality is now called an alternative lifestyle. What used to be called fornication is now called a meaningful relationship, What used to be called adultery is now called having an affair, What used to be called a tomboy is now called a transgender, What used to be called abortion is now called family planning……. David wrote,

 

Psalms 38:17-18 (ESV Strong's)

For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me.

I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.

 

The Hebrew word for iniquity is AWVONE which means sin, perversity or guilt. But our society has endeavoured to remove guilt as an emotion from the dictionary. Psychologist Dr Dwayne Dyer describes guilt as “the most useless of all behaviours,” and “nothing but a neurosis.” In our modern world, apparently no one is supposed to feel guilty. Guilt is not conducive to dignity and healthy self-esteem, or so Political Correctness tells us.

 

So while our society encourages sin, it will not tolerate the guilt sin produces! Guilt, they tell us, takes all the fun out of life, and columnist Ann Landers even said, “The most painful, self-mutilating, time- and energy-consuming exercises in the human experience is guilt.”

 

THE WRONG PRESCRIPTION

 

If you stand back and look at society, you will recognise certain tactics that the enemy has employed to remove feelings of guilt for what we do and the way we behave. Political Correctness tells us that if we take away guilt, everyone’s self-esteem will improve and we will all be better.  Trouble is, it’s the wrong prescription, and what society prescribes is actually making the moral problems more entrenched. What society is doing is not healing people, and it’s not solving the problem! We have sinners who feel no guilt but feel good about themselves, they have replaced self-examination with self-esteem.

 

So what exactly are the experts of Political Correctness prescribing for our society’s ills?

 

1.      LEGALISATION

 

Psalms 94:20 (ESV Strong's)

Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?

 

A classic way of removing guilt is simply to legalise something. This is what we saw last year, with changes to the definition of marriage, and for many western governments, it is a common tool Political Correctness uses to remove feelings of guilt from the populace.

 

Take marijuana for example. It is now a legal drug in many states of the US, and sadly states like Oregon and Colorado have found that hen legal younger and younger children are smoking dope, and that it damages young brains more and is affecting their psyche drastically.

 

Prostitution is now legal here, and the main argument is the health of sex workers. The real argument is the increased tax revenue, but that’s another story. Hardcore porn is now legal and readily available. Heroin is not legal, but the government provides needles and safe places to shoot up. The thing is, if you legalises or legitimise these destructive behaviours, more people do them more often because they are more available!

 

You cannot legislate heart changes in the name of Political Correctness. I appreciate the fact that we have a Christian Prime Minister, but he cannot legislate life-changing commitments or changes of lifestyle, addictions or behaviour. Only Jesus can transform your life, and only the Holy Spirit can empower you to live the life you want!

 

 

2.      TERMINOLOGY

 

Isaiah 5:20 (ESV Strong's)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

 

We are skilled at renaming things so as to remove guilt.  A few decades ago if I said I was gay you’d think I was happy… not so today! Living together when you are not married is now officially called a common law marriage. I noticed that instead of calling gay marriage what it is, they used the inoffensive term “marriage equality,” because after all, who doesn’t want equality in our society?

 

No greater example exists of using terminology to counteract the guilt produced by sin than in the abortion industry. It should be called abortion, or better still baby murdering, but it is sanitised by using terms like termination, pro-choice and family planning. We do not call the victim of abortion a baby, we use the term foetus, and what terms like this do is desensitise the incredible guilt of taking a life. Political Correctness dictates our terminology

 

 

3.      VICTIMISATION

 

Probably the greatest tool to remove guilt from our society is by making sinners into victims.  Psychologists are inventing new diagnoses every day and handing out labels like lollies, but the underlying message of this is this… “It’s not your fault, it’s a disease or psychological syndrome.”

 

Now I am not saying that diseases or mental illness doesn’t exist, I’m just suggesting that many who get such labels aren’t actually diseased but they use the diagnosis as a way to justify their actions and excuse the guilt they feel over their sin.

 

If I can blame a disease, my parents, my upbringing, my friends, my school, my job, my partner or anyone or anything else, then I am personally absolved of blame or guilt. It’s not my fault you see… it’s always someone else’s!

 

Listen, God hasn’t called us to be victims, He’s called us to be Victors!

 

Romans 8:37 (ESV Strong's)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

Conquerors don’t shift blame, or put their head in the sand, they face their opposition and they win!

 

 

4.      REDUCING CONSEQUENCES

 

This inevitably happens when every sin is described in terms of a disease, and treated as such. We don’t blame cancer patients for their disease, and using the same logic we absolve sinners from the guilt associated with their sin.  So thieves have kleptomania, gamblers have an addiction, adulterers are sex addicts and rebelling teenagers have Oppositional Defiance Disorder!

 

Since everybody is a victim, not a sinner, from children to adults, it seems logical that we reduce or even do away with any punishment… here’s some real life examples...

 

A man who was shot and paralyzed while committing a burglary in New York recovered damages from the store owner who shot him, the jury being told he was a victim of society,  driven to crime by economic disadvantages. Because of the storeowner’s callous disregard of the thief’s plight as a victim, the poor criminal will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. A large settlement was paid, and several months later, the same man, still in his wheelchair, was arrested while committing another armed robbery.

 

Bernard McCummings mugged and brutally beat an elderly New York man in the subway, McCummings was shot while fleeing the scene. Permanently paralysed, he sued and won $4.8 million in compensation from the New York Transit Authority. The man he mugged, a cancer patient, is still paying doctor bills, while McCummings, the mugger—whom the courts deemed the greater victim—is now a multimillionaire.

 

Look at the kinds of sentences dished out by our courts and many would agree that the consequences for crime have definitely been reduced in many areas.  However, God says the wages of sin is death, and

 

Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV Strong's)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

 

THE DEATH OF COMMON SENSE

 

Somewhere in the middle of all this political correctness common sense has died!

 

Romans 1:22 (ESV Strong's)

Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

 

Listen to this poem I found by Anna Russell…

 

I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed

to find out why I killed the cat and blacked my husband’s eyes.

He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find;

so this is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind.

When I was one, my mommy hid my dolly in a trunk;

and so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.

When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day,

and that is why I suffer now from klep-to-men-I-A”.

At three I had the feeling of ambivalence towards my brothers,

and so it follows naturally I poisoned all my lovers.

But I am happy; now I’ve learned the lesson this has taught;

THAT EVERYTHING I DO THAT’S WRONG – IS SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT.

 

Our society is pervaded by the victim mentality, which has overcome our common sense! We are told by the media and the government that if you feel a certain inclination, no need to control it, you have the right to express it, however you feel, whenever you like.  You are the victim of your genes (even though science can not confirm this), or your upbringing, or your diagnosed condition. So if you have the genes of a homosexual you are free to express it. If you have the genes of a woman, even though you are clearly a man, feel free to express it. If you have the genes of a serial killer… better not express that!

 

These days everything wrong with humanity is likely to be explained as an illness. What we used to call sin is more easily diagnosed as a whole array of psychological disabilities, and we dare not call it sin, because then it might make you feel guilty!

 

Now I know this is not very PC correct, but I was talking with Fiona, a trained psychotherapist about this recently. While there certainly are genuine mental disorders, at what point does ADD, ADHD and ODD become bad parenting, or at what point does IED, Intermittent explosive disorder become a badly behaved jerk with a  bad temper?

 

Proverbs 28:13 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

 

The therapy industry diagnoses sin as sickness, telling people they are desperately sick and therefore not really responsible for their wrong behaviour. This has led to the so called wise in our society believing foolishness, and us foolish Christians seeing the truth, but being afraid to say it!

 

IS OUR SOCIETY WEARING NEW CLOTHES?

 

Hans Christian Anderson wrote of two swindlers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they made no clothes at all.  They made everyone believe the emperor’s clothes were wonderful, just invisible to them.

 

When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new "clothes", no one dares to point out that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as unfit or stupid. Finally, a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

 

This is exactly what is happening right here in our society today! We are told to be open-minded, but we are so open-minded our brains fall out. We are told to be politically correct, but the things we have to agree to as correct make no sense. It is political correctness gone wild!

 

Last week on 60 Minutes they reported on a transgender AFL player. Starting as a man and playing for the Australian men’s handball team, he/she wants to now play women’s AFL. This athlete stands 6 foot 3, and weighs 100 kg or nearly 16 stone. Bigger, stronger, faster than most women This is the obvious result of the current attitude towards PC!

 

Isn’t it time someone stood up and said, “But you’re not wearing any clothes!” Isn’t it time someone broke ranks and said, “You can add bits or remove bits, you can wear a dress or a pair of stubbies, you can change your name From Steve to Eve, but according to science you are still XX or XY, right?

 

And this applies to so many areas of modern life, not just gender or sexuality. It applies to the victim mentality, promoted by professionals and swallowed by everybody else, and no one is courageous enough to say, “But this doesn’t make sense!” because of political correctness. Behaviour unacceptable by society for centuries is now tolerated or even promoted, even things we all agree are wrong, like stealing, embezzlement, murder, slander, and so on, are downgraded or explained away because apparently, no one is guilty anymore!

 

VICTIMS BECOME A SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY

 

The Disease-model therapy doesn’t cure these victim conditions, it compounds them, and no one has the courage to point out how ridiculous this is, for fear of being attacked and called stupid or narrow-minded.   By removing any sense of guilt, and making people feel they are the victims, they become helplessly bound for life to their affliction, and their diagnosis often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy?  And we are the narrow-minded fools for daring to speak against political correctness!

 

Charles J Sykes said, “This is a formula for social gridlock: the irresistible search for someone or something to blame colliding with the unmovable unwillingness to accept responsibility.”

 

Once upon a time, when society affirmed the concept of personal responsibility, citizens were expected to contribute to society. They were encouraged to ask not what their country could do for them but what they could do for their country.

 

Now that everyone is a victim, however, people think they have every right to demand society’s benevolence without giving anything in return. I don’t want to ever work, but I demand that you give me income, rent help, free medical and so on!

 

Psalms 32:5 (ESV Strong's)

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

 

Here’s the thing… while ever you are trying to shift the responsibility for your sin you will always be a victim! You cannot receive forgiveness for, something you don’t even recognise!

 

Our nation needs honesty and integrity, not more and more victims dependent on drugs and therapy with recently made up diagnoses! I believe that we, followers of Jesus, can bring a voice of integrity and courage to the twisted, politically correct but morally bereft landscape, but we must do this in love, not as self righteous, legalistic Pharisees!

HOW CAN WE START TO BRING CHANGE IN OUR SOCIETY?

 

I said right at the beginning, you cannot change people’s hearts by passing legislation or political correctness. Equating their sin with a disease will also not solve the problem, just entrench the issue in their lives!

 

So how can we start to see change in our nation, and how can we dislodge the victim mentality and political correctness?

 

1.      RECOGNISE IT STARTS WITH US

 

Like it or not, we have to lead the way here. If we swallow the whole disease diagnosis, if we constantly shift the blame and see ourselves as victims, we will be part of the problem, and we cannot lead our nation towards the solution… which is Jesus Christ!

 

1 Peter 4:17 (ESV Strong's)

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

 

2.      EXAMINE YOURSELF

 

One of the greatest impedances you face to growing in Christ is failing to carefully and properly examine yourself. That’s why David wrote,

 

Psalms 139:23-24 (ESV Strong's)

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

 

Until you stop glossing over or dressing up our sin, you will never be forgiven.  The first step to any truly effective remedy for all mental and emotional afflictions is an honest assessment of one’s own sin and the acceptance of complete responsibility for one’s own moral failings.

 

3.      ACKNOWLEDGE GUILT AND STOP SHIFTING THE BLAME

 

We as the people of God need to shine our light throughout our society, and if we are to shine we need to stop shifting the blame, and not be afraid of guilt..

 

John MacArthur said, “Guilt functions in the spiritual realm like pain in the material realm. Pain tells us there is a physical problem that must be dealt with or the body will suffer harm. Guilt is a spiritual pain in the soul that tells us something is evil and needs to be confronted and cleansed.”

 

I understand, guilt is not fun and it does hurt and it does produce grief, but for the believer it goes on to produce repentance and salvation and leaves no regret

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong's)

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

 

So don’t be afraid to look at yourself properly and actually acknowledge that you’ve sinned.

 

4.      CONFESS YOUR SIN

 

Proverbs 28:13 (ESV Strong's)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

 

Let me say it again, until you recognise sin as sin, as that which separates you from God, you cannot be forgiven. Don’t cover up your sin… confess it, and let the blood of Jesus cover it over! You and I sin, it’s a fact, and until we see that as an affront to a holy God, it will bring us death.

 

1 John 1:8-9 (ESV Strong's)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

So we, the people of God, need to lead the way for our nation and our people.  Let’s not deceive ourselves and put our actions and thoughts down to upbringing, down to some kind of mental illness or some kind or cultural influence. I’m calling the church to lead the way and just call sin sin!

 

Now please understand, I am not saying that mental illness doesn’t exist! It certainly does exist, and our counsellors and psychologists care for those people well. There are some people I know who have a mental illness for sure, and I believe that Jesus can heal mental illness just like He can heal physical illness! We need to pray for those with genuine mental illness and believe for healing.

 

But today I want us as a Church to pray for forgiveness of our sins, great and small. I’m asking you to commit yourself to honest, open, even painful examination of your life, and heartfelt confession of your sin. You may or may not have some kind of diagnosis, but I’m asking you to examine yourself.

 

It’s time we as the people of God to call sin what it is… it’s sin! As Christians, we cannot be salt and light in the world if we cherish our own sin, so today I want to challenge all of us to repent of our sin, whatever it is, and get right with God.