October 5, 2013

Sermon, Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Christians Please

Psalm 72, Job 24:1-17, Titus 2
Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
October 6, 2013
Our Lessons for this morning show two ways of living.  Job 24 is the way of life that is against God and all goodness.  Titus 2 is the way of life that seriously intends and works to please God.  It is the life we pray for morning and evening when we ask God to help us live a godly, righteous and sober life.  Today we continue to talk about what Christians do, and today’s sermon is, “Christians Please.”  Of course we are talking about pleasing God, because Christians live to please God.  That is our first and last priority in life.  We can say this in many ways, and indeed the Bible uses many phrases to express this idea.  We can say our first duty is to be the people of God.  We can say our first goal is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind.  We can say our goal is to be filled with all the fulness of God, to walk in the Spirit, and to dwell in Christ and have Him dwell in us.  One of the most pointed and graphic ways of expressing this is found in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  That is your goal, Christian; to live in such a way that it may truly be said you are crucified and now live in the faith of the Son of God.  You died when Christ died on the cross.  You were crucified with Him, but now you live in Him.

How do you live in Christ?  The first thing you must do is believe in Him, for you live in Christ by faith.  You believe He is who He says He is, Emmanuel, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Word who became flesh.  Then, you believe He did what He said He did.  He came to this earth and lived as a man.  He taught us about God, gave us the Christian faith, and died and rose again to restore us to fellowship with God and His Church.  As we read earlier in Titus 2:14, He, “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works.  He “gave” means He Himself on the cross.  He purified us by dying for our sins.  And He forms us into a unique, or special, or “peculiar” people.  That means a people for His own, special family.  Those who would live in Christ, must first believe these things. 

Second, you deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, according to Titus 2:12.  You will notice at once that this verse is the source of the closing words of our General Confession with which we opened our prayers this morning.  Look at the words at the bottom of page 6 in the Prayer Book and compare them with Titus 2:12.  It is possible to make the same comparison between most of our prayers and Scripture.  That is why we often call the Prayer Book “the Bible in devotional form.”  To deny ungodliness and worldly lust is to resist them.  Actually, the Bible often uses a much stronger word than “resist.”  The Bible uses the word, “crucify.”  “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” says Galatians 5:24.  Again in Galatians 6:14 we read, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  Strong language that.  Yet that is what the Bible calls you to do if you would deny sin in your life.

If you are thinking it is impossible for any human being to live the way I have just described, you are absolutely correct.  And you have just confessed to yourself one of the foundational truths of Scripture; you are a sinner.  Being a sinner is more than just committing sins, it is having a disposition, or, natural inclination to commit sin.  In other words, sin is both the sinful action and the urge to do it.  So before we can make any progress toward living the Christian life, or, as I have called it this morning, pleasing God, we need God Himself to help us.  We need Him to do something about this urge to sin that still lives in us and makes it so difficult to deny sin and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”  We need God to change us because we can’t change ourselves.  We can make some changes.  We can break bad habits and form new, good habits.  We can change our attitudes.  We can even do a lot about changing our dispositions.  Most of us never make such changes because they are hard to make.  It is much easier to wallow in the same old things than make the changes.  But you can change, and God will help you.

But your nature, your being, your natural desire to put yourself first, even if what you want for yourself is wrong, is something that takes supernatural help to change.  It is a lifelong process of being under construction as the Spirit of God remakes you into the person He wants you to be, and the person you, by God’s grace, want to be.

So, without Christ’s atoning death we cannot please God.  Unless we have received the gift of forgiveness from Him we are still in our sins and alienated from God.  We need His help, His sacrifice to make us acceptable to God, to make us pleasing in God’s eyes.

Without the Holy Spirit working holiness in us, overcoming our sinful urges, and helping us desire the things of God, we cannot please God.  For without this work of the Spirit, we will be unwilling and unable to do the things that please God.

O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.X

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