Sermon Notes

March 18, 2018 – There is no mortification of sin apart from the Holy Spirit.

Posted on Apr 1, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Date:  March 18, 2018

There is no mortification of sin apart from the Holy Spirit.

Text: Psalm 15, Deuteronomy 7:6-16; 2 Timothy 4

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

 

SCRIPTURES:

Hebrews 12:1-2

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, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Romans 8:12-17

So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

 

BIG IDEA:There is no mortification of sin apart from the Holy Spirit.

INTRODUCTION:

For the past five times that we have been together we have been working through these verses. As we try to put these two verses together we will also turn to Galatians 5. In a sense, Pastor Burt is putting himself in that cloud of witnesses to say to us God is faithful – God is faithful– Keep on – Keep on.  He wants to encourage us to put to death the deeds of the flesh but also to live; we should seek life. We’ve heard a lot about sin but we probably have just scratched the surface. But we have heard enough about sin to give us a greater awareness of the conflict/warfare that is ahead of us in our Christian life. Hopefully we have learned enough about sin that it would melt our hearts. This melted heart is one of the characteristics that comes up in Thomas Watson’s book entitled A Godly Man.  One of the characteristics of a Christian is a “gospel weeper”. Why should I be a person who weeps? Shouldn’t the fact that my sin is pardoned give me joy? Why then does a Christian weep?  Watson gives us four reasons:

1) He weeps for the INDWELLING of sin, the law in his members (Rom. 7:23), the outbursts and first risings of sin. His nature is a poisoned fountain. A regenerate person grieves that he carries about with him, that which is enmity to God! His heart is like the wide sea in which there are innumerable creeping things (Psa. 104:25) — vain, sinful thoughts. A child of God laments hidden wickedness; he has more evil in him than he knows of. There are those meanderings in his heart which he cannot trace — an unknown world of sin. “Who can understand his errors?” (Psa. 19:12).

2) A godly man weeps for the ADHERENCE of corruption. If he could get rid of sin, there would be some comfort, but he cannot shake off this viper! Sin clings to him like leprosy! Though a child of God forsakes his sin, yet sin will not forsake him. “Concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season” (Dan. 7:12). So though the dominion of sin is taken away, yet its life is prolonged for a season; and while sin lives, it molests! …sin “wars against the soul” (1Pet. 2:11). And there is no cessation of arms until death. Will this not cause tears?

3) A child of God weeps that he is sometimes overcome by the PREVALENCE of corruption. “The evil I would not do, that I do.” (Rom. 7:19). Paul was like a man carried down the stream. How often a saint is overpoweredby pride and passion! When David had sinned, he steeped his soul in the brinish tears of repentance. It can only grieve a regenerate person to think that he should be so foolish — after he has felt the sting of sin — as yet to put this fire in his bosom again!

4) A godly heart grieves that he CANNOT BE MORE HOLY. It troubles him that he shoots so short of the rule and standard which God has set. “I would,” he says, “love the Lord with all my heart. But how defective my love is! How far short I come of what I should be; no, of what I might have been! What can I see in my life, but either blanks or blots?”

Wilhelmus a Brakel:
“Sanctification is the efficacious operation of God in elect, called, regenerated, and justified sinners, purifying them by means of the Word from the pollution of sin, transforming them according to the image of God, and ­­– by virtue of this internal principle of spiritual life – causing them to live according to His will expressed in the law of the ten commandments… We repeat, sanctification is an efficacious work of God.”

REVIEW:

On one hand we have looked at sinfulness in our life and we weep.  We do perhaps find ourselves here from time to time. But it is worth asking God that all of us would find ourselves here all the time; there is a deep sadness for our sin. But we are not meant to sing the song of our life in Christ in a minor key!  Rather there is this crescendo that ends in a major key: but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live.  Christ will help us become all we are to be.  Today we will look at two major roles of Holy Spirit in this battle with sin. There is no mortification of sin in your life without the HOLY SPIRIT.  But with the HOLY SPIRIT there is life.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1: How does the HOLY SPIRIT work in regeneration? Look at the HOLY SPIRIT works in the life of the unbeliever making him a believer

Point 2: How does the HOLY SPIRIT work in sanctification? The movement to becoming holy and successful in putting to death the deeds of the flesh.

 

Point 1:How does the HOLY SPIRIT work in regeneration?

There is no putting to death the deeds of the flesh if we have not first been given a new nature. Each and every person is born with a nature that is in hatred to God;  it is a corrupt nature that we call original sin. It is compelled to live in rebellion to God. This is the depravity of  man. There is a penalty for this rebellion. We are like archers in a contest with the target in front of us. We put the straightest, best arrow and we watch with sadness and grief that it doesn’t even make it to the target. The penalty is death. We know that everyone dies. That’s not what the scripture is talking about. There is a greater death; a more horrible death than physical death. There is the spiritual death that is an eternity of punishment where the worm never dies; fire and brimstone – hell. The word gehena (sp?) is where the trash was thrown over the walls of the city to get it out of the city. All this garbage is lit on fire; then there is new garbage and more fire. You have this unstable mass of garbage that has fire burning in it. If you were to walk on this pile, you would sink down into the fire. That’s the picture Jesus paints for us. That’s the bad news. But there is also some very good news. God has come into the world to change corrupt hearts into hearts that desire to serve God. The second person of the trinity was born to a mother and lived in perfect obedience to His father. Why did the sinless one die? He died in order that He would take on the wrath of the punishment of those He came to save. The good news is that death and hell and punishment need not be in our future but God’s grace and goodness can be. That’s what we mean by regeneration. How does that happen?

A) The HOLY SPIRIT illumines. The HOLY SPIRIT comes to make us awareof our sinfulness, give us an awareness of who God is and who we are. We start our lives as persons who are hell bent away from God. We are living in darkness and blindness. The HOLY SPIRIT is sent into the world to take away the ignorance and bring light into our lives so we can see who we are and what our need is. Did you ever wonder why you can tell the good news to someone and they might argue with you or they might say how nice it is for you. And you think, how can they not respond? The answer is that it takes the HOLY SPIRIT to shine the light of truth into the darkened heart.

B) But the HOLY SPIRIT does more than that; He convicts. There’s the person who says “yes I get it – I understand that Jesus died for my sins” but there is no remorse or fear of God’s wrath in their life. There’s no desire of change in their life. That’s because it takes the HOLY SPIRIT to convict the truth of the gospel.

C) The HOLY SPIRIT gives a new heart and a new ability to love God. The HOLY SPIRIT changes us.

Point 2: How does the HOLY SPIRIT work in sanctification?

The HOLY SPIRIT also works after we are born again. The fight against sin doesn’t end on that day. We call this ongoing fight against sin sanctification. What is sanctification?

Reformation Study Bible Notes

“According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 35), sanctification is “the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” It is a continuing change worked by God in us, freeing us from sinful habits and forming in us Christ-like affections, dispositions, and virtues. It does not mean that sin is instantly eradicated, but it is also more than a counteraction, in which sin is merely restrained or repressed without being progressively destroyed. Sanctification is a real transformation, not just the appearance of one.”

A) The HOLY SPIRIT shows us our sins in specificity. The HOLY SPIRIT takes that general “nobody is perfect” and makes it personal and specific. He moves from a generality of sin to a specificity of sin.  Ask God to reveal our specific sins. Our sins are individual and different from each other. One person might be given over to bitterness and the other person is like Teflon!  There are various kinds of specific sins that each and every one of us deals with. It is the HOLY SPIRIT that begins to show us these things. It’s helpful to use the most trustworthy guide: the 10 commandments. This is God’s desire for each and every one of else. The 10 commandments are who God is and He says I want you to be like me. We need to ask ourselves where in my life do I have other gods; take the name of God lightly; not keeping the Sabbath holy; rejecting God given authority; do I murder through my hatred or my tongue; am I inpure and immoral; do I not tell the truth; do I covet; am I guilty of theft.  We don’t do this because we don’t want to know. We can’t take it. The one who comes to illumine is also called the Comforter. With the illumination will also come comfort.

Look at the particular sins in my life by virtue of who we are as persons. We might ask ourselves are there sins in my life which is a basic temperament issues?  It could be experiences in the past that cause us to be more susceptible to certain sins in our life.  It could be your age – there are different weaknesses by age.

B) The HOLY SPIRIT uses means in our sanctification. The HOLY SPIRIT does not work in such a way that we get zapped into holiness but rather there are instruments or means that the HOLY SPIRIT uses to help us put sin to death. The ordinary means are the scriptures (preached), private devotion/prayer, corporate prayer, providence of the things around us.

C) The HOLY SPIRIT fructifies – he grows fruit in us. The fruits of the Spirit are found in Galatians 5. In verse 22 the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The idea here is that the HOLY SPIRIT has not come only to save us but also to grown fruit in our lives. We are not just pulling weeds out of hearts but we are planting seeds of righteousness. These fruits grow in the life of those who are walking in the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is to be shown our sinfulness and to plant these seeds in our lives. To be led by the Spirit is to have our minds on the things above. This means to have my affection stirred by the love and mercy of God, tremble at the wrath of God, have my will bent to the will of God in obedience.

Let me ask this: What is the state of your thinking? What do you think about? Is your mind on the flesh or on the spirit? Do you find your mind primarily occupied with this world?

James Buchanan

“The real state of our hearts may be determined by the prevailing bent of our thoughts, affections, and desires; for if these be mainly occupied with the world, and naturally and instinctively point to some earthly good, then we have reason to fear that we are still walking after the flesh, and not after the Spirit; but if they are chiefly set on things spirits and divine; if not only in the hour of prayer, but at other times, they recur to God, and Christ, and heaven, and dwell on these subjects with complacency and satisfaction, or at least with earnestness; then we have reason to hope that we may be of the number of those who have been quickened into spiritual life, of which the first and surest symptom is he appetite and desire for spiritual nourishment and food.”

Conclusion:

The HOLY SPIRITis given to us to move our minds off the things of this world. When we walk according to the Spirit it means that we will habitually seek to cultivate and exercise these fruits in this life. Am I concerned with being more loving? Is love for God and love for others evident in my life? Do I live at peace with others? Is your goal to grow in patience? Is your goal to become more gentle to be known as a person of goodness? What are you doing to let the HOLY SPIRIT grow you?  Are you known for your meekness? These are the seeds and the flowers that are planted in the soil that we pulled the weeds out of.  God has guaranteed that we will be successful.

Read More

March 11, 2018 – Be Killing Sin, Part 4

Posted on Apr 1, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Date:  March 11, 2018

Be Killing Sin, Part 4

Text: Psalm 33, Luke 7:36-50

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

 

SCRIPTURES: 

Hebrews 12:1-2

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, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 

BIG IDEA: Be Killing Sin, Part 4

INTRODUCTION:

In the front flap of PB’s Bible is written this cry of desperation from William Gurnall:

“Lord, I am hunted with such a temptation, dogged with such a lust, either thou must pardon it, or I am damned; mortify it, or I shall be a slave to it; take me into the bosom of thy love, for Christ’s sake; castle me in the arms of thy everlasting strength, it is in thy power to save me from, or give me up into, the hands of my enemy. I have no confidence in myself or any other: into thy hands I commit my cause, my life, and rely on thee.’ This dependence of a soul undoubtedly will awaken the almighty power of God for such a one’s defense. He hath sworn the greatest oath that can come out of his blessed lips, even by himself, that such as thus fly for refuge to hope in him, shall have strong consolation, Heb. vi. 17. This indeed may give the saints the greater boldness of faith to expect kindly entertainment when he repairs to God for refuge, because he cannot come before he is looked for. God having set up his name and promises as a strong tower, both calls his people into these chambers, and expects they should betake themselves thither”. (William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, I:30) 

REVIEW:

For several weeks we have been spending time in Hebrews 12.  We are trying to understand and apply what we are asked to do here: to lay aside the Sin which clings so closely.  The weights are seemingly benign but they will hinder us and slow us down.  We looked at several of those in the last Sunday of January. For the last 3 weeks we have been slogging through the muck of trying to get a helpful picture of what it means to lay aside the Sin that clings so closely to us; perhaps like a second skin. And it has not been pleasant because we don’t like to be reminded of who we really are. It’s tough enough when we remind one another of our sin and we don’t like it. This is who we are – it hurts and it’s not fun. We are reminded in this that we don’t want to be like the person described in James 2:22-23 – don’t be just hearers of the word but be doers of the word.  Don’t be like that guy who looks in the mirror and sees his disheveled appearance and does nothing about it. So we have to be reminded of these things.  Or we will be like that one with spinach in his teeth – smiling. It’s not pleasant but there is solid ground at the end of this swamp. We are drunken in our sin as the writer describes the drunkard in Proverbs 23: 29-35. We come to a sermon and then leave saying, “They struck me, but I was not hurt; they beat me but I did not feel it.” Our approach instead must be likewhat we read in the prayer titled, “Self-Knowledge” in the Valley of Vision. The supplicant there says, “it was a good day to me when thou given me a glimpse of myself. Sin is my greatest evil, but thou I are my greatest good. I have cause to loath myself…for sinners bring judgment in thinning their sins are small, or that God is not angry with them.”  For his reason, we spent time hearing the danger of sin last week.

Today, we want to begin to dig ourselves out of the muck and begin to step onto solid ground. Mortification of sin – put to death the deeds of the flesh. We want to live so we need to know how to do this thing called the mortification of sin so we can live well.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1:Definition of mortification.

Point 2:Describe mortification of sin in steps.

 

Point 1:What do we mean when we talk about mortification?

“The weakening of the habit of sin or lust that it shall not, with that violence, earnestness, frequency, rise up, conceive, tumultuate, provoke, entice, disquiet, as naturally as it is apt to do.” John Owen

Mortification Defined by John Owen

What mortification is not:

  1. It does not equal the total destruction of the sin corruption within us. It’s called indwelling sin because we are rebels by nature. Even when we have been born again, it is still in there within us wanting to burst forth. It’s a weakening of sin. There will never be in this life, a total sinlessness. There are some who teach this but they are wrong. There won’t even be a time when we are free from sin for an entire day. This does not take sin seriously. Even the thought of sin is as offensive to God as the act.
  2. It does not mean that we have a harsh or severe approach to my body. This was the mistake of the aesthetics. Right now, millions of people are giving up something for Lent as a way of become more holy. But to deny myself is to say no to myself as Lord of my life. It’s not like I can control these sins by hurting ourselves. But we need to be careful in how we pamper ourselves. We can open the door to sinfulness in our lives
  3. It is not just a change in behavior. Just by changing something on the outside doesn’t mean I am going to change something on the inside. Have we met this person who used to be a smoker. Now that they don’t smoke they have become an evangelist for not smoking. That’s not how it works with sin. Ex: Bill had been a drinker. By God’s grace he didn’t drink anymore but he drank his own homemade rootbeer. It was the yeastiest rootbeer!  He had changed the outward behavior but not the inward desire for the yeast.  We don’t just add some godliness in our lives to counter act the ungodliness in our lives. Having a silk pocket square, doesn’t make PB dressed. If he came with a smelly dirty suite with a silk pocket square he wouldn’t be dressed well. It’s not just adding an ornament to your life. What if you are angry. If you go to anger management. That’s not going to change it. It’s not just managing a particular sin but changing the desire on the inside.
  4. It’s not just a life that is free from the outbreak of a particular sin. If I were given to a looseness of tongue and I was put into solitary confinement, I would conquer gossip because there was no one to talk to but my heart would still want to talk to someone. In my mind I would think how awful those people are.

What is mortification of sin?

  1. It is a continual fighting against sin as the root for the sins in my life. We need to know the ways of the enemy, the occasions of its successes in my life. I need to know how it works in my life. When David prays “my sin is ever before me”. In David’s case it was the sin of his past – seducing this woman and murdering her husband and lying to cover it up. But there is also the remaining sin of my heart. My heart is far worse than I can describe.
  2. It is recognizing that I must daily be aware that sin is in my life. It’s horrible. We are not dealing with bad habits or personality issues. We need to be aware that we are dealing with a power within us that wants our destruction.
  3. It is a constant fight toward victory. I want to see small an incremental successes. Just because I stop off the sidewalk and into the gutter doesn’t mean I need to stay in the gutter. I get back up on the sidewalk!
  4. It is also to learn to answer the question of why do I even care? If my sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ, we do I care about mortifying my sin?  One reason is self-serving – I want peace in my life. I want to be done with this slavery. There is no rest and quietness in the life that leaves even one sin unmortified. It’s possible that you can live with unmortified sin in your life.  You can say it’s too strong for me:  I can’t help but drink. That person says I can’t help it, I am just going to live with it. Butin living with it there is all sorts of turmoil.

“Will destroy the comforts; yea and eat out the vigor, activity, and liveliness of their graces, that, though they do live, they will live a lingering and decaying life…they will live, as it were a dying life.”   Ezekiel Hopkins

Second, I want to work on this because one sin leads to others.

Point 2: Steps to Mortify Sin

  1. Recognize that you need God in your life, Christ as your savior, and the Holy Spirit in my life. Throw your sins on Jesus. If you do not, then the best you can do is live a good, moral life that will end in hell.
  2. After I know that I am a believer, I must ask God to help me to grow in my hatred of sin. Hatred of sin is different than seeing sin that bothers me. I need to have a hatred of sin that is exhibited in the wrath of God against sin. Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out by the wrath of God. The wrath of God led to the destruction of the nation of Israel and sent them into exile. God’s wrath is always against sin. It’s not just the bloody mess that Jesus was reduced to, it’s the wrath of God. That was just the wrath of man. The wrath of God is defined by the depths of the punishment of hell.  We need to say that here is the Bible’s description of hell: this place defines the horrors of my sin.  The hatred of sin is shown in the deep depravation that the Savior experienced during His life on earth.  Before He came to earth, He had only heard the sweet and loving praises of His father. But from the moment He was born, He heard instead the curses and the horrible talk of men. That was His suffering. It’s not just the cross and the tomb –  it’s all of it. Our sin grieves the Holy Spirit of God.  I need to realize that God’s wrath is stored up.

I need to begin this whole process with a strong resolve that I will not sin. When sin presents itself, I am not going to bite. Resolve to not sin but even more so resolve to not entertain the first appearance of sin. It’s like saying I won’t inhale, I will just play with it. Our resolution must be free from reservations or limitations. Make a resolution that has no allowances for the flesh.  Be killing sin or sin will put you to death. Resolve to kill sin. PB is resolved that he will never walk away from his wife. It’s a resolution that is made once and renewed often. I am going to say no to sin.

“In the Christian life a general resolution is absolutely necessary, of being faithful to God, never to have correspondence with his enemies, but always to cleave to our duty, notwithstanding the allurements or terrors of the world to supplant our integrity, and surprise our constancy.”William Bates’ .

3. The psalmist writes in Psalm 119:106 – “ I have sworn an oath and confirmed it to keep your righteousness”. I made a promise. We will not only not disobey but we will obey.We don’t bargain with God. It’s an all or nothing deal. So my resolution is to not disobey; my resolution is to obey.

Conclusion:

You may hear the temptation from Satan to say this is just too hard. You can’t do everything. You can’t do this. Thomas Brooks (Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices) says this is the remedy:

Dwell more upon the necessity of the service and duty, then on the difficulty that attends the duty. You should reason thus with your souls: O our souls, though such and such a service be hard and difficult, yet are they exceedingly necessary for the honor of God and the keeping of his name in the world, and the keeping  under of sin, and the strengthening of weak graces, and so the reviving of languishing comforts, and for the keeping clear and bright your blessed evidences, and for the scattering of your fears, and for the raising of your hope, and for the gladdening the hearts of the righteous, and stopping the mouths of unrighteous souks, who are ready to take all advantages to blaspheme the name of  God, and throw dirt and contempt upon his people and ways. O, never leave thinking on the necessity of this and that duty, till your soul be lifted up far above all the difficulties hat do attend religious duties.”

Look at the necessity and rewards of doing this. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. J is the ultimate witness to the faithfulness of God. Jesus is the ultimate recipient of the power of the Holy Spirit to make it to the end. He came to earth as a human person. Everything He did on earth He did by the power of the Holy Spirit. This same Holy Spirit is available to us. He is an example of aperson who was fully submissive to the Holy Spirit. So no matter how bad the colors of sin are painted in your life, you have the same Holy Spirit of Christ indwelling in you who will take you home. It’s not impossible no matter what Satan tells you. YOU set aside every weight, every sin that clings so closely – run the race keeping your eyes on Jesus.

Read More

March 4, 2018 – Be Killing Sin, Part 3

Posted on Apr 1, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Date:  March 4, 2018

Be Killing Sin, Part 3

Text: Psalm 36, Romans 8:1-17

 Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

 

SCRIPTURES: 

Hebrews 12:1-3

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, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 

BIG IDEA: Be Killing Sin, Part 3

INTRODUCTION:

We have read this in our text this morning Romans 8:13: “but if by the Spirit you have put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. The connection to Hebrews is that the author has said to us to lay aside THE Sin that clings so closely to us. We will continue to look at this for several more weeks.  We don’t realize the depth and horror of sin because sin blinds us to sin.  Like the frog in the kettle that doesn’t realize the water temperature has become so hot that he will die.  Sin in my life is a grim battle. We all fight battles of one sort or another. We all have battles in our experience;loneliness, disease, societal evil. But there is one battle that is common and universal to each and every one of us. This is the hardest battle you will ever face because it is the longest battle you will face. It will not end until you step from this life to eternal live. This is the ongoing conflict with the sin that remains in our hearts. The remaining, indwelling, corrupt heart that fuels far too much of our thinking and acting. We all face this battle!  Well not all of us. Just Christians. The non-believer doesn’t fight sin. They are not even aware of their rebellion. That person only knows about bad habits and destructive behaviors. They fight against those things. But the Christian fights a dread battle with a dread enemy. But the promise is this – if you put to death sin, you will live. The contrary promise is that if you continue to live according to the flesh then you will die.

REVIEW:

Today we want to continue with the mortification of sin.  Last week we looked at sin in its generalities.  Sin is a principle. Yes we have been released from condemnation but remember that our issue is with the root of sin, not the fruit of sin. My issue is with Sin rather than with sins. So often we fight against sins and we make some progress against the fruit but we don’t get to the root. We make some minor progress.  Our desire this morning is this: I want to know how I can fight this life long battle against sin since the battlemust be fought.  I want to know who my enemy really is so that I might see sin in its lurid and vivid colors in order that I might have the motivation to practice the fight against sin. So that we may live.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1:Some additional truths about Sin

Point 2:Promise and command of Romans 8:13

Point 3: Mortification of Sin

 

Point I: Some additional truths about Sin

  1. Recognize or be aware that Sin has rewards.

Sin offers pleasurable rewards. None of us would fall for temptations if there wasn’t something pleasurable on the other side. Sin has a sweetness to it. Sin has a reward to it. We need to recognize this. We get this from the life of Moses. Moses forsook the temporary pleasures of sin. As sweet and attractive sin can be, the rewards of sin are temporary.  One of the best examples of this is…. Write this on google – Pinocchio becomes a donkey!   They have all these pleasures but then they turn into donkeys. Little boy skipping school but then turns into a donkey. What a picture of sin – the gifts of sin are temporary for a season.  But the price of those pleasures is oh so high. If Pinocchio had known he would turn into a donkey he would never had skipped school. The law of sowing and reaping applies. You will reap what you sow.  You will reap more than you will sow. You will reap sooner than you think.

 

  1. Recognize that the Sin rewards are always negative.

At the very least the result is wasted time or wasted resources. But at the other end of the spectrum is weakness, humiliation, slavery, and death.

 

  1. Recognize that Sin is on the inside.

Temptation comes and lights a desire that is already in you. In Psalm 51, David says you desire purity in the inward man. That’s where my washing needs to happen. Far too many of us think it is the fruit that causes problems.

 

  1. Recognize that the Sin that resides in me breaks the 4th

It never takes a Sabbath. It never takes a day off or a break. It never goes home at 5:30pm! It is a 24/7 issue.

 

  1. Recognize that Sin is wider, deeper, more pervasive and more powerful than I have ever realized or experienced. That is why we come back to it today.

Sin is a general defect of all righteousness and holiness and an inherent deordination, privation, depravity, evil disposition, disease, propension to all mischief, antipathy and aversion from all good…. And this is an evil, of the thorough malignity whereof no man can be so sensible and distinctly convinced, as in the evidence of tha conviction to cry out against it with such strange, strong, and biter complaint as Paul does in Romans 7 until hi understanding be, by Christ opened… (Edward Reynolds, one time Bishop of Norwich, Church of England, 1599-1666)

 

Our eyes are blinded. We don’t want to see what’s there. It is worse than I ever imagined.

 

  1. Recognize that everyone who sins is a slave to Sin.

This is in degrees. The non-believer is an absolute total enslaved captive. But everyone is a slave to sin.

Recognize that everyone who sins is a slave to sin (this is primarily true of the not yet saved). The longer one remains in the state of sin the more he is entangled, and the less capable he becomes of making an escape from it. There is no standing still with sin—it is always a downhill road in which every step gives an accelerated force, till you reach the bottom.  Not everyone has the same temptations or weaknesses. One may be enslaved to drunkenness, another to covetousness, another to fashion, and still another may be given to self-righteous pride. These are only different aspects of sin. All are servants of sin who sin. All sin is enslaving.  (Andrew Fuller)

 

  1. When I Sin, with one sin I open to door to all other sins.

I say to all sins, come in. The lock has been jimmied.  To sin is to act without regard for the authority of God in this particular arena. Think about an area where you are disobedient to God. When we pursue that action and bite the bait of the temptation, we are saying to God – in this arena of my life you have no authority. The next thing we say is that you have no authority in any other area of my life.

“If you indulge in theft, for instance, you would with the same unconcern, commit adultery, robbery, or murder. A mind unrestrained by the Fear of God [may for a time be restrained by the fear of man but this fear of man will have but a feeble hold on him.”  HE goes on to say, “Sin, in various shapes, being indulged. it will soon break out on open vices; for it is not in the power of a man, with all his contrivances, long to conceal the ruling disposition of his soul.” (Andrew Fuller)

 

  1. Every Sin will work to weaken and destroy my ability to resist other sins.

We have a conscience. But it can be weakened and seared by ignoring it.  Maybe you have a new car or new clothes, you love how they feel or smell, and you take extra care. But then you get a stain and now it is worth so much less. That’s what sin does to our conscience.

 

  1. Sin will never ever satisfy.

It is never satisfied with one indulgence. Sin brings with it’s pleasure an appetite of more experience of that pleasure.  It has an incredible ability to wet our appetite. Temporary pleasures that ask for more temporary pleasures. You don’t know that it won’t become a sin

 

  1. One Sin brings with it the necessity of committing more sins to go along with it. There might be lying that goes along with. There will certainly be the sin of hypocrisy. Sometime there is theft and bitterness that goes along with it.

 

  1. To leave Sin alone and not worry about killing it – will give strength to all other sins in my life.

One of Puritans (Hopkins) says it will be the ringleader lust of your life. Say you recognize that you have pride in your life. If you just leave that and not worry about it then all of a sudden, you say “if I had that car, house, position, spouse, etc” other people would think far better of me. So your pride fuels the covetousness. Or your pride goes the other direction and your pride is wounded. What comes out of that is bitterness, vengeance or hatred. The ringleader lust brings underling lusts to the surface.

 

  1. Sin will seek to give false peace where there is no peace.

Sin and my sins and my sinning are all acts of war against God. But sinning will seek to give us peace in our lives.  Consider addictions: to anger, eating, drinking, sexual immorality. The person is going along seemingly ok. A temptation presents itself. What happens next is a struggle. Finally the struggle becomes so great that you give in. Right after the defeat comes soothing relief from the struggle and a bit of peace and you enjoy the peace that comes after the defeat. But it’s not long before that false peace evaporates. Just left with shame and sorrow. There was a false peace that lasted a little bit because there was a batlle. I have false peace when the quiet or calm that I feel has come from something other than the hatred of sin as sin against God. Sometimes a false peace can come when I logically and intellectually accept Christ. Peace only comes when I learn to hate sin and love what the Savior has done.  A false peace comes quickly. False peace can happen when I take sin lightly. False peace is selective. If I live sin unmortified, it is going to bereave my soul.

 

Point II: Promise and command of Romans 8:13

But IF… we kill sin; we put it to death; we continue to fight against it then we will certainly live. There’s the good news –there’s the gospel. The good news is that you are going to win!  Scripture says that if you pursue this battle by the power of the Spirit in your life, you are going to live. See life in two different ways. Obviously, this is eternal life- the presence of God forever. But let’s not limit abundant full life to then. Let’s draw life into the now. If you put to death the deeds of the body by the spirit, you will have your best life now. This is not necessarily physical health or material goods but the sweet spirit given peace and comfort – the soul prosperity of one who is living in accordance with God’s law and direction in your life. There is a promise here. This is so like God to make a promise attached to His commandment.

“The weakening of the habit of sin or list that it shall not, with that violence, earnestness, frequency, rise up, conceive, tumultuate, provoke, entice, disquiet, as naturally as it is apt to do.” (John Owen)

 

Point III: Mortification of Sin (to be continued next week)

Sin will never go away. Life comes from weakening the power of sin in your life. If you don’t mortify sin, then you die. Or you will never have a life of calm, fruitful – I will live with a low grade dying. Sowe need to put to death the deeds of sin.

Conclusion:

Nextweek  –  steps we can take to put to death sin in our bodies.

Go with this encouragement – He that is within you is stronger than that which is in you. He that is in you has already won the battle.

Read More

February 25, 2018 – Be Killing Sin – Part 1

Posted on Apr 1, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Date:  February 25, 2018

Be Killing Sin – Part 1

Text: Psalm 51, Romans 6:1-14

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

 

SCRIPTURES: 

Hebrews 12:1-3

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, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Romans 8:13

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

BIG IDEA: Be Killing Sin, Part 2

INTRODUCTION:

This morning we will show the contrast between a life of living and a life of dying. Not everyone who walks with his or her eyes open is alive in the spiritual sense.  If we want to live, we must put to death the deeds of the sinful body.

REVIEW:

Last week we focused on the words “lay aside the sin that clings so closely to us”. We sought to define sin as carefully as we could. Continue that today because we will never understand the wonder and the treasure of salvation until we have an understanding of this thing called sin.  Last we defined sin as any want or lack of conformity to the law of God or any transgression of it.  First, we see that sin is an act of omission. Second, we see that sin is an act of commission. Do not covet – any moment that I want that which someone else has then that is a transgression of the law. Sins of omission is not doing what I am told and sins of commission is doing what I am told not to do. Third, we see that sin travels on two interesting axes. On a horizontal level we have sins against people and against God on a vertical level.

We looked at what sin is: Sin is the rape of mercy; Sin is the jeer of His patience; Sin is the dare of God’s justice; the slight of His power and the contempt of His love. We are to lay aside sin so we can run the race set before us. The metaphor is that our Christian life is a journey, a struggle, a marathon that we run with endurance so that we might find ourselves in our heavenly home.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1: Narrow down three concepts about what sin is. Three different pictures of sin.

Point 2: Life giving instruction

John Owen writes ….Be Killing Sin or it will be Killing You. We must be at the work of mortification or that sin will be killing you.

Point I: Narrow down three concepts about what sin is. Three different pictures of sin.

  1. The old man contrasted to the new person.In Romans 6, we read about this picture of coming to Christ and the act of baptism. We understand that baptism is an identification of us with Christ and Christ with us. In baptism, we are buried with Him (under the water) and raised with Him. Then He says this – the old man has been crucified. What we are as Christians is not what we were before we were Christians. The old person is dead and there is a new person alive. The person born with sin and under the penalty of God’s condemnation is dead and there is a new person alive. The new person is free from the penalty of sin. That’s what justification means. I am now counted as a child of God. It’s what John Newton says in Amazing Grace: I was once blind but now I see. The old man is contrasted to the new person in Christ.
  2. The flesh contrasted to the spirit. In Galatians 5:16 there is a second term that is helpful for us when we think about sin. There are two realms: the realm of the spirit and the realm of the flesh. He is talking about the flesh is the context in which sin is carried out. If you had no body, no hands, no eyes, no mind; you would never sin. You carry out sin with parts of your body. The flesh is a war against the spirit of God. It’s not saying that our hands or feet are sinful but that’s the arena in which the sin that resides in me operates. Don’t use your body as a weapon against people and God but use your body as a weapon for people and God. There is nothing in scripture that says that our bodies are bad. Paul does not say seek to escape the prison of your body. That’s what monasticism, Hinduism and Buddhism say. God says present your body – God created it- for glorifying God. It’s a retooling of the flesh to use it for God’s glory.
  3. Sin is a law. In Romans 7: 14 we have a third picture. There is something within my person as a human being that compels me to do the very thing I don’t want to do. We grow up and say I sure hope I will not be like my mother and then we find that we sound just like her. Paul is writing as a new creature himself. Desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out. Paul is writing as a believer as the unbeliever has no desire to please God.  First, Paul is saying that this – Sin is a law like gravity. It forces us to obey it. Gravity wins. In the same way Sin is a law. It works on our fears, our appetites, and our past habits. Because you are afraid of losing out, afraid of being rejected, of dying – sin works on that fear and sin says there is another way! We find ourselves going back to what we have learned to hate. Secondly, Paul says this Sin resides within me. All of us have cancer cells in our body. Occasionally in persons, they break out and cancer wins.  We all have cancer cells of sin within us just waiting to break out. Thirdly, Paul says that this law seeks to operate when I want to do my best. Paul wanted to do good, to do right, to serve God. He wanted not to serve himself. Fourthly, it is always active. It may hide or take a breather but it’s always active. It is the ultimate 24/7 power – indwelling sin. It resides in the depths of who we are and it never takes a vacation.

Point II: Life giving instruction

Quick definition and a few general instructions. Here is a starting place that if I am going to live by putting to death

Mortification is the weakening of the habit of sin or lust (any covetousness) that it shall not with violence, earnestness rise up and provoke me as it naturally wants to do. You will never put sin to death but we can weaken it.

  1. If you are not born again in Christ, you will never ever have any success over this desired to rebel against God to hurt yourself and others. When Jesus comes to Nicodemus, he says you must be born again. You can’t live if you are dead. The good news is that God has saved us. Without Christ you are a spiritual corpse. There is nothing in you that can serve God. BUT GOD has made us alive. Then we can make progress.
  2. You need to understand that the penalty of sin is gone BUT there remains within us a power that still works against us. G.K. Chesterton said that if a rhino were to enter this restaurant there is no denying that he would have great power but he has no authority here. There is power of sinfulness in your life but each time it rises up you say it has no authority in my life. The authority of your life is the reign of Jesus Christ.
  3. If I seek to fight to put to death sin in my life, I must be willing, diligent and consistent in putting to death all sin in my life. What is your sin problem? Is it anger, gossip, lust, drinking – what is your sin? We say this is my big sin. So we put all of our energies on putting that sin to death. So while I may stay sober but at the same time anger, covetousness and hurtful words continue to be part of my life. You have to work at sin not sins. It’s like “whack a mole”. The others keep popping up in our lives. We have to do it all. It also means that we have to be consistent in pursuing all the duties of the Christian life. You can’t ignore the ordinary means of grace. You can’t find any progress in dealing with sin if you are not also doing what you are supposed to be doing.
  4. We must study to know the filthiness, the odiousness, the grossness, the stench, the wickedness of sin. To give up the habit of sin, look at the nastiness of sin. See how terrible it is. We need to seek to see sin as the ultimate offense (the most heinous) thing in our life because it is an offense against the holiness and the majesty and the perfection of the heavenly Father who has sought us with great price. We need to see sin in the light against God.
  5. Thank God that He has given you eyes to see sin in your life. Have you ever thought about it as a gift? Robert Burns has written a poem that says what a blessing it is to see ourselves as others see us. Thank God that He has given us eyes to see ourselves as God sees us.
  6. Fix your eyes on Jesus! Christ took our shame on Himself. For the joy set before Him, endured the cross so that we could share in His joy. And He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high so He would be there to welcome us home.
Read More

February 18, 2018 – Be Killing Sin – Part 1

Posted on Apr 1, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Date:  February 18, 2018

Be Killing Sin – Part 1

Text: Hebrews 12:1-3

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church, Springfield, Ma.

 

SCRIPTURES:  Hebrews 12:1-3

 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, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

 

INTRODUCTION:

What do you think about when you think about sin? This little three-letter word. How much do you know about sin? Many people think lightly of sin. It is for us an easy thing to dismiss; sin as some sort of vague moral failure that brings some level of displeasure from God. Sadly, few of us think of sin in this way.

“The is no subject of greater importance to Christian theology than its understanding of the concept of sin and its effect. That may seem like an odd statement to make, but if we think about what the Christian gospel is, we shall quickly see why this is so. The gospel is a message of salvation from sin, achieved for us by Jesus Christ.” It is only because of sin that the darling and precious son of God holy and free from all taint of wrong-doing came to this world and took on the guilt of sin and died a death that was both physically unspeakably gruesome and horrible-but a death that suffered the full extent of the wrath of God unleashed upon him. Get sin wrong, we get the gospel wrong. Get the gospel wrong and it loses all its wonder and luster. When it loses is luster we lapse into a dull, and unappreciative thanklessness. Small sin, diminished savior, unappreciated God. (quoted and paraphrased from Gerald Bray, “Sin in Historical Theology” Fallen, Crossway, 163)

Doesn’t it seem that it is appropriate to think a little more carefully about sin?

REVIEW:

  • The rule of the “what is” and the “so what”. The “what is” in this passage is that we are surrounded by a great number of witnesses. The “so what” is to run this race with endurance. It is important for us to see this rule.  God can command and order anything He wants. He is sovereign. But God in His graciousness has said to us I am not going to just command you to do things, I am going to give you a ground to stand. So God did not have to give us any reasons. All God has to say is do this and don’t do this. Because we are a people who like to question, He tells us “what is” so we can see why He asks us to do this.  So we come back to this.  He has called us to run the race because we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
  • This great cloud of witnesses should not be seen as cheering us along. It’s more effective for us to look at Hebrews 12:1 as an encouragement for us to be faithful in our race. In times of weariness, trouble, darkness, and when doubt begins to insinuate itself into our hearts we look to this great cloud of witnesses – this dozen! They chant with one voice – God is faithful; Keep on; He will not let you go; God is faithful. PB recommends that we get good Christian biographies and hear them say God is faithful. So we can say with the apostle Paul, I know in whom I have believed.
  • We are to lay aside every weight. When we talk about weight; the picture is so easy – we see runners – they are not carrying suitcases! These weights might be considered in themselves neutral or even good/wholesome and healthy. They become a weight when we allow them to grow into our heart to such an extent that they become obstacles to our spiritual progress. Too often, we approach decisions in life: we ask is this a sin? What if we ask a different question along with it: is this a help or is this a hindrance in my race toward heaven?  There are vocations, hobbies, people, dreams and goals that we might cast off because the answer is that it hinders me.
  • We were given a motivation: Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate witness. No one suffered more for the cause of God’s glory. No one had to express as much faith as Jesus Christ. He is saying to us: my dear brother/sister I made it and you can make it.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1:Just what is this sin that I am supposed to lay aside?

Point 2:Why is sin so difficult to lay aside? I am assuming that your experience in the Christian life is not unlike mine. There are some things that we know that are offensive to God and yet we continue to do them. Why is it so hard to get rid of these things?

Point 3:  Even though it seems impossible to disentangle ourselves from sin, we can, with hope and confidence, carry out this instruction to lay aside the sin that clings so closely.

Understanding these 3 points, we will better equipped to run the race.

Point 1: What is sin? 

Sin is any lack of conformity to the law of God. Anything that does not line up is sin.  Sin has a negative and positive aspect. I am doing against and I am not doing what I am supposed to do. Two sides of sin. Sin is natural to every person. Every parent knows this. You don’t have to do anything to be a sinner.

Here’s the Westminister catechism:

  1. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
  2. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

We don’t generally have a good conception of what sin has done to us. We think lightly of sin. Look at what John Piper has written as sin:

“What makes sin sin is not first that it hurts people, but that it blasphemes God. This is the ultimate evil and the ultimate outrage in the universe. The glory of God is not honored. The holiness of God is not reverenced. The greatness of God is not admired. The power of God is not praised. The truth of God is not sought. The wisdom of God is not esteemed. The beauty of God is not treasured. The goodness of God is not savored. The faithfulness of God is not trusted. The promises of God are not relied upon. The commandments of God are not obeyed. The justice of God is not respected. The wrath of God is not feared. The grace of God is not cherished. The presence of God is not prized. The person of God is not loved. The infinite, all-glorious Creator of the universe, by whom and for whom all things exist, who holds every person’s life in being at every moment; is disregarded, disbelieved, disobeyed, and dishonored by everybody in the world. That is the ultimate outrage of the universe. Why is it that people can become emotionally and morally indignant over poverty and exploitation and prejudice and the injustice of man against man and yet feel little or no remorse or indignation that God is so belittled? It’s because of sin. That is what sin is. Sin is esteeming and valuing and honoring and enjoying man and his creations above God. So even our man-centered anger at the hurt of sin is part of sin. God is marginal in human life. That is our sin! Our condition!” (Piper)

 

What Piper points out here is that sin is first and foremost vertical in its relationship. Our culture tells us that sin is merely a horizontal issue. We have domestic violence in the White House staff, we have seen women and children gassed in Syria, we have seen a gun man gun down 17 students and teachers. We are rightly indignant at the hurt and pain and ongoing damage and trauma to the victims of these heinous actions. We are wrong if we only respond on the horizontal level (man to man); they are first and foremost a sin against God. The death of human beings is an affront to God who created them to glorify Him.  If we cut the vertical out, we diminish sin and soon it just goes away: it’s just another shooting. Soon the anger and the resolve to do something differently vanishes. When its an affront to the holiness and majesty and the law of God then it needs to settle deep into our souls and it doesn’t go away.

The apostle says to lay aside the sin that clings so closely.  Not just because sin keeps us from getting along with people but because sin keeps us from making it home. All sin is first against God.

Another Puritan has written:

We put ourselves in the place of God when we sin. We are to lay aside, put aside, get rid of sin.  Get rid of naughtiness – had to do with depth of immorality.  Let us put aside all malice and rage.

Point 2:  Why is sin so difficult to lay aside?

Notice that there is a definite article left out of the ESV.  Lay aside THE sin which clings to us. Putting THE sin, you see it is a singular thing.  When we think of sin we think of our actions and attitudes that we are know are displeasing to God.  That’s now what it means – lay aside THE sin. The very root of sinfulness; self centered idolatry or distrust of God or pride.  The thing that permeates my entire heart.  Look what the author has done by putting THE here. There’s something huge and big here. We are not called to snip off the rotten fruit from the rotten tree as if that will make the tree healthy. We are called to pull the rotten tree out by the roots.  Let us lay aside THE sin which clings so closely to us.

Sin is a general universal condition for all people. THE sin clings to us.

Sin is the very fabric of who we are.  If our hearts were garments – the patterns begin to fade if it is painted on to the fabric. If the patterns are woven together – then they never fade.  That’s like sin in our life.

Paul speaks to us about indwelling sin. There remains in the life of every born again believer still the seed and the weed of indwelling or remaining sin. It’s an enemy that lives within us that always seeks to bring us down. It’s as if there are terrorist cells in our body.  They are constantly planning or plotting to bomb. You don’t even know they are there. They are just waiting to explode volcanic fury and spew lava all through our lives.  That’s why it’s so hard to get rid of.

Point 3:  Even though it seems impossible to disentangle ourselves from sin, we can, with hope and confidence, carry out this instruction to lay aside the sin that clings so closely.

Lest we through our hands up in despair. Let me tell you why it’s not all bad news. Don’t give up. Here’s why you don’t have to give up. In spite of the depth and the power of this indwelling sin there is hope because:

  1. Every command of God comes with the power and ability from God. Go back and read Romans 6 – we are no longer slaves to sin
  2. I have been given weapons to fight this sin. I have been given the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit that cut throughs the lies of Satan.
  3. We have been given the Holy Spirit. Don’t diminish the word comforter as a teddy bear in your life. It is a strengthening spirit. We don’t have a cuddly tear bear God but one that says I will be behind you so you can lay aside every sin.
  4. With every failure there is a heavenly hand reaching down to pull you back on the road. Those who wait upon the Lord will soar with confidence.
  5. With the struggle comes the motivation to keep our ears open to the heavenly chant: God is faithful. I can keep on not because I am strong but because He is strong and He is faithful.
  6. Keep my eyes open to Christ who faced a battle more desperate than you and I will ever face and He made it to the end. He went on looking at the joy set before him – our heavenly home.
  7. With the struggle comes the unbreakable promise of God: Those who He has adopted He will never forsake. He who has begun a good work in you, will see it to completion. All that we have committed to Him is safe and secure.

 

Read More

Date: January 21, 2018, Continuing in times of trial by faith is a victory equal to any great conquest of the great of the Bible.

Posted on Jan 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Date:  January 21, 2018

Continuing in times of trial by faith is a victory equal to any great conquest of the great of the Bible.

Text: Hebrews 11:33-40

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church, Springfield, Ma.

 SCRIPTURES:  Hebrews 11:33-40

who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

 BIG IDEA: Continuing in times of trial by faith is a victory equal to any great conquest of the great of the Bible.

INTRODUCTION:

What would it take in your life to live in such a way that you were counted among the faithful in what is often referred to as the Hall of Fame. Could you be included this list that started with Abraham? What would it take in your life to be included in this list? Just one thing? These are not unique people. They are meant to be examples to us of what God will do with His people who exhibit faith in Him.

REVIEW:

We began this chapter, chapter 11, several months ago. We have seen a definition of faith. We saw that there is a solidity to faith. We look to what God has said and promised and see that hope is not a verbal hope but I have a hope, a certainty that this will come to pass. Sofaith is what gives substance to that – that which is evidence of what I can’t see. Then we had more than a dozen examples of those who lived with a faith fueled life and they were lifted up to us as examples.  We have seen (v6) how important faith is. Without faith it is impossible to please God.  God is not pleased with those who do not see His promises as real, solid stuff.  But it is a certainly that you do please God when you exercise faith.

Over the months, we may have lost sight of what the author is doing here.  We remember that the recipients were wavering, uncertain in their commitment to their Christian belief. The letter was written to Jewish believers who were familiar with the OT. The Book of Hebrews reminds us that we must know the entirety of scripture. If we are confused then we realize that we need to go back to the OT.  They knew it well. They had this familiarity. The author sets out his letter and says “don’t go backwards”.  He uses the word better over and over again – a better high priest, etc. The pinnacle of the better in this book is that Jesus is better than everything that you have ever known – so why would you turn your back on theone who is better than everything. And take the lesser as your life.  He lays all this out in 10 chapters beginning in Ch 1.  He comes to 10:19 and ended his arguments and switches gears with the word “therefore”.  If all of this is true then here is what you must do: stay the course.  And the author uses the word  enduretwice in the latter part of chapter 10. Since Jesus is better than anything you have ever known, endure; stay the course. How is one supposed to endure?  The righteous one will live by faith. The righteous one is the one who has been born again in Christ.It’s a new person. He lives by faith. He does not live only by what he can see, experience and rationalize.  He is going to live as though what God says is as real as a piece of granite.  Then what encouragement he gives to them.  He says I know you will not shrink back. We are those who have seen the hand of God and read the word of God. Let me show you what faith looks like – that is what Ch 11 is about.  In a way we don’t even need Ch 11.  You are of faith, you don’t shrink back. How do you not shrink back – look to Jesus. All of Ch 11 are almost like a parenthesis to what it means to look to Jesus.

So here’s what we have. He has asked them to remember that they have endured much already.  And sometimes you have been publically    People trying to hang on in the midst of troubles.  He is saying you are not alone. Others have gone before you and faced similar situations.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

  1. Conquest of faith – 6 more faith fueled lives
  2. Continuation of faith – a different kind of victory
  3. Commendation of faith – as God evaluates the conquerors and the continuers

Point 1:Conquest of faith

After more than a dozen examples of faith the author says what more do I need to say. I have shown you time and time again how God carries someone through with faith. By this time the author takes a deep breathe and says but I could tell you ….and he lists 6 more faith fueled heroes: Barak, Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets. He is overflowing with proof of how God commends those who are faithful. This is a real preacher here. He has so much to say. There is a thin line between a long sermon and a hostage situation. We don’t want to be in that situation. That’s what the apostle is saying – what more can I say The author says something like I’m going to let you go but I just want to know this. There are a lot more people we can talk. Whom does he list? He lists Gideon, Barak, and Samson- 3 judges, a judge and a prophet Samuel, a king and a prophet David and then he generally throws out the prophets. After naming these 6 people he has a list of 10 different accomplishments.  We are just going to read them as he does:

  1. There were those who conquered kingdoms like Joshua and David. They led the people in military conquest of the land of promise.
  2. They enforced justice, and they established or practiced righteousness. They set rules in place so the government would be a place of justice.
  • They obtained promises—they received what they were told.
  1. They stopped the mouths of lions. Here the author has gone beyond the 6 lives and thisseems to be a reference to Daniel in the Lion’s den.
  2. Quenched the power of fire—this is most likely a reference to Sahdrach, Mesahch, and Abednego who were told to bow down before the image that Nebuchadnezzarhad made of himself. It’s a marvelous story and King Nebuchadnezzar looks at all the backs of people bowing down except the 3 men who are standing.  King Neb instructed his servants to make the furnace 7 X as hot. He throws the 3 men in but there were 4 in the fire. He saw one like the Son of God with them. When they came out; not even the hairs on their heads were singed.
  3. There were those who escaped the edge off the sword
  • There were those who were became strong out of weakness? Could this be Samson? He comes before the Philippians. In his weakness he is shackled and he calls out to God and God strengthened him.
  • Mighty in war
  1. Putting foreign armies to flight
  2. Women receiving their dead back as resurrected—two women are named in the OT in the lives of Elijah and Elisha whose sons were dead and then alive.

There’s a life of learning in here. Time does not allow me to speak of these people. Can we look at something here? We are talking about faith here.  PB is sensitive to this now as he goes to Zimbabwe.  He is called to preach in the capital city of Harare about the reality of real faith and real blessings and the error of the prosperity gospel.  The prosperity gospel is if you believe hard enough, God will give you what you want.  When we come to this chapter, how are we supposed to see that.  Let us look at what was going on.  What are we supposed to see here?

  1. A) First, notice that every one of these 6 individuals acted in response to a divine call and instruction. Not one of these people determined it would be a good thing for them to do what they did. Gideon asked God to prove that he was really calling two or three times. They didn’t just make this up. It was a response to divine instruction. So truth faith is not that I determine that something needs to be done and I determine that I am going to trust God to accomplish the desires I have. Their confidence was in God. If I am going to do great things out of faith, it has to be something God has spoken directly in His Word and I am counting on God to do what He says He will do. I need to know His Word. One of the reasons that these charlatan heretics like Kenneth Copelandhave a worldwide following is because they don’t know the Word of God. They hear this charismatic, good-lookingguy talking about the life that they could have and they say I want that too. The protection you have against these charlatans is that you know the Word of God contextually. We need to know that these people based their behavior on the divine call of God.
  2. B) Secondly it was for the benefit for God’s people. The people who are being preached to are being fleeced, not benefited.
  3. C) Thirdly, and most importantly they acted in such a way that God was glorified and honored. God was seen as the good, holy and sovereign lord.

That’s the difference between what we see today and what these people are.

 Point 2: Continuation of faith – a different kind of victory

Things change in V35. All these wonderful conquests and conquering heroes. All of a sudden we read “some were tortured”.  This isn’t “hall of fame”. How am I supposed to understand this after I see the conquest and the successes of the faithful life? All of a sudden we move from the brilliant daylight of success into the dimness of a defeated life. What am I supposed to do with this?

We move from the conquest of faith to the continuation of faith. Most of us are not going to receive a divine call from God.  You are not going to be called to go into the furnace.  But you will face incredibly painful hard puzzling confusing ongoing trials and troubles and circumstances that seem like a noose seeking to choke a life of faith. Now we don’t know exactly who these people were.  We can just as easily and put them in the time when Nero was Emperor of Rome when Christians were thrown to wild animals. There was imprisonment and death. What are we to make of this? Why is the author bringing up the hardship? It is so easy for us to say if you come to Jesus all your troubles will be over.   Our author is absolutely honest and transparent.  Your faith in Christ is not a faith in an easy happy life. Your faith is that which allows you to continue through the trials, and troubles that you have. You will get through this.  Boy, don’t we face hard times?  You have no idea what God’s will is for your growth. It might be a stroke, a saw cut through an arm, a lump in the breast, broken relationships, misunderstood and rejected people. He is reminding people of what Jesus says when He says in this world you will have trouble.  It’s what Peter says when he says stop being surprised at the fiery trials. That is where we live.  Most of us will be called to be continuers with faith. Why can I continue? We see here that they continued with their faith. The lesson is this: the same faith that allowed all of those people to obey God and persevere in times of darkness is the same exact faith that allows you to live through the hardship that you are living through which may never cease in this world.  Trust that what God brings to life is good.

Point 3:  Commendation of faith – as God evaluates the conquerors and the continuers

All these people were commended; they were approved by God because they trusted Him even though they did not receive what was promised.You know what a commendation is –it’s like a medal.  They went to their grave looking for the establishment of the new covenant; Messiah Christ. But we have seen it.  Because of faith we can please God.  The new covenant takes away your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh.  You will be able to obey because God put a new heart in you. Jesus dwelt on the earth so He could live a life of perfect righteousness.  Jesus had no sin. He died because you are a sinner and you need a savior. I am a sinner and I need a savior. He took our unrighteousness and transferred his perfect righteousness to us.  How do I know this is true? On the night He died, he established the new covenant. No longer do we have the blood of rams. We have the whole record of scripture telling us what God did.  We have the lives of faith-fueled people. They were commended. We have the opportunity to know that same commendation, as we trust God.

CONCLUSION:

Even though our lives are filled with pain and grief, we have a savior who will bring us home to a place of ultimate joy.

 

Read More