Sunday, December 29, 2013

Do Not Waste the New Year (Part 1)



SERMON           GMT13-008
 SERIES:            Topical – New Years
SUBTITLE:        Do Not Waste 2014
SCRIPTURE:     Romans 13:11-14
SUBJ:                  making the most of 2014
SUMMARY:       Don’t waste the new year of 2014

INTRODUCTION

1.     Quotes on time

Luther had a parable or dream of how on one occasion the devil sat upon his throne listening to the reports of his agents and ambassadors on the progress they had made in opposing the truth of Christ and destroying the souls of men.
One demon said: "There was a company of Christians crossing the desert. I loosed the lions upon them, and soon the sands of the desert were strewn with their mangled corpses."

"So what?" answered Satan? "The lions destroyed their bodies, but their souls were saved. It is their souls that I am after."
Then another demon made his report. He said: "There was a company of Christian pilgrims sailing through the sea on a vessel. I sent a great wind against the ship, which drove the ship on the rocks, and every Christian aboard the ship was drowned."

"So what?" said Satan? "Their bodies were drowned in the sea, but their souls were saved. It is their souls that I am after."
Then a third demon came forward to give his report, and he said: "For ten years I have been trying to cast a Christian into a deep sleep, and at last I have succeeded."

And with that the corridors of hell rang with shouts of malignant triumph.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for it is the stuff life is made of.

Matthew Simpson wrote, “If this is to be a Happy New Year, a year of usefulness, a year in which we shall live to make this earth better, it is because God will direct our pathway. How important then, to feel our dependence upon Him!’

2.     Christians have a tendency to be lulled into a sleep

The comic and TV star of Home Improvement, Tim Allen said it like this:

How much of the day are you awake? You think, I gotta get the dry cleaning, I gotta get going, and this and this. All of a sudden it's dinnertime. And then there is a moment of connection with your spouse or your friends. Then you read and go to bed. Wake up, and it's the same all over. You're not awake, you're not living, you're not experiencing. We start early medicating ourselves. We start kids early on TV and video games and so on. It's daunting how many possibilities there are in life for every one of us. But rather than face that I may be a failure or a success, I think both of them are terrifying, people find diversions.
         
3.     Proposition:  In order to make the most of 2014, each one of us most wake up
         
TEXT:  Romans 13:11-12

Our theme is “don’t waste 2014!”

This is a good reminder for us all that each one of us must wake up and realize what time it is in order to not waste 2014.

Our passage suggests four ideas that helps us to see the necessity of waking up in order to not waste 2014. 

The first idea suggested for us is…

1A     The Apostolic Implication      (11a)

          It’s time to get busy

          Romans 13:11
          “And do this…”

I have already shared with you some insight into the apostle Paul’s thinking, but let me develop it a bit further.

In Paul’s letters after his greetings and basic introduction, he develops what we call a doctrinal position. Through a clear presentation he unfolds teaching as a solid foundation. He thoroughly explains the divine position.

Then Paul applies what he has been teaching. He takes the truth which he has developed into principles and applies it directly to his readers in what we call the “duty” section.

So, with Paul you have doctrine, then duty. You have position and then practice. You have wisdom and then the walk.

Paul also begins his duty or application section with a proposition. A proposition is a point that he wants to prove. Then he develops that point by explaining it, illustrating it, and supporting it.

Then at some point, Paul with a “therefore” Paul drives his proposition home in application.

Romans 1-11 is the doctrinal section of Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is his position or his principles.

Romans 13-16 is the duty section of Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is his practice section, the application of chapters 1-11. Because of the truths, teachings, principles, or doctrine of chapters 1-11, the Roman believers are charged with duty, or practice, or as Paul says in verse 11, “and do this…”

The apostle Paul is dealing with conduct.

[Please note four things about this apostolic implication…]

[The first thing to notice is…]

1B     Paul never deals with conduct in and of itself

We don’t do just to do. It is not the conduct that pleases God. Our conduct is the result of understanding biblical doctrine and principles. Our conduct is actually the reasonable response to the teachings of God through Scripture.

Even as believers we have to be conscience of the fact that it is so easy to slip into the “letter” of the law, rather than the “spirit” behind the law.

Morality is not the means or the way to spirituality or righteousness. God requires us to be rather than do.

I know that is hard sometimes. Sometimes it is just to easy to “throw it in overdrive and fake it.”

[So, when Paul says, do this, he is not dealing merely with conduct.]

[Secondly…]

          2B     Paul does teach that conduct is the means to righteousness

As believers we do not follow these moral injunctions in order to become a believer or remain a believer. We follow them, or obey because we are believers. Because we are Christians we do this.

They are the natural outcome of being a believer. They are what a believer does.

This is really the heart of the reformation. The heart of the reformation was the issue of justification. The bible teaches justification is by faith and not by works. God declares a believer to be just. We do not cooperate with God nor does God infuse justification into us because of any obedience on our part.

Titus 3:5
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Romans 3:20
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…”

[Paul does not deal with conduct for conduct sake nor does Paul teach that conduct is a means or way of salvation.]

[Thirdly…]

3B     Paul teaches us that we cannot understand his teaching about conduct if we are not clear about our own position in Christ

          We must be clear on what the bible teaches about redemption, justification, faith, in order to know what we are do as believers.

          Your behavior or conduct is an expression of who you are. If you are a believer, that truth is expressed through your daily conduct.

          If you are not a believer, that truth is expressed through your daily conduct.

Eph 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called

Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God

1 Thess 2:12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

[Again, Paul doesn’t deal with conduct just for the sake of conduct, nor does he teach or imply that conduct makes or keeps us a believer, and he tells that we cannot understand our relationship to conduct if we don’t know who we are in Christ.]

[Fourth…]

4B     Paul teaches us that our conduct is and always must be based on our understanding of our position in Christ

          Look again at how Paul puts it, “and that knowing the time. If Paul cannot assume this knowledge on our part, his argument fails.

          For example:

          Romans 8:18
          “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

          Later in the chapter Paul writes “I am persuaded…”
          His actions or his conduct is based on his knowledge of his position in Christ.

[The first idea suggested by this passage that we need to wake up in order not to waste 2014 is the fact that Paul is dealing with Christian conduct in this section.]

[The second idea suggested by this passage is that of it’s…]

2A     ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE

Paul always follows the same method as he writes and since he does he shows us how the doctrine and duty, or the position and practice in our daily living are always intimately and inextricably linked together or intermixed.

You say why is this of such absolute importance?

When you are fully aware of the inter-relationship of your faith (doctrine) and your conduct (duty) you are able to avoid the great dangers that face you as a Christian. There are two major dangers that will assault you as a Christian in 2014.

[The first major danger is that of…] 

1B     Antinomianism
         
This is the false belief that you have no relationship to the moral law of God.

          The Christian who believes they have no relationship to the moral law of God is unconcerned about his conduct.

          He is against (anti) the law (nomos) – he refuses to care about it.
          What is antinomianism? Where does it come from? Why do you or should you care about it?

          Let me give you some ways that makes believers succumb to it.

[The first way we succumb to antinomianism is through…]

          1C     Intellectualism

What I mean by this, is that we only care about the intellectual understanding of the doctrines of the bible.
One of the greatest dangers facing a Christian is living on and relying on orthodoxy by itself.

Don’t get me wrong orthodoxy is absolutely necessary.

Doctrine is vitally important.

But if you say well I have all the knowledge I need about this teaching that I don’t need to worry about what I do with it.

This leads to so called believers not caring about how they live. What they say they believe in is contradicted by their conduct.
As you know just believing something intellectually doesn’t always mean that we live in accordance with our beliefs. 

[The second way we succumb to antinomianism is through what we call…]

                   2C     Sandemanianism

This is a teaching that says that you do not have to worry about feelings. As a matter of fact, it teaches you don’t have to worry about anything.

The only that matters to this philosophy is that you believe in Jesus Christ. Sounds good right?

Here is the problem:  they believe that you don’t need to feel anything, you don’t need to be aware of a conscious change in your life.

The end result is that you can do whatever you like, whenever you like.

These people make a “confession” that they believe in Jesus and then they go on living the same old life that they have been living.
Another form of sandemanianism is the “take it by faith” teaching.

The problem is that though one may have taken it by faith, intellectually, it makes no difference or change in their life.

In other words their lives show that they didn’t take it because they don’t have it.

As a result there are many people in the church today who claim to be Christians by faith who are snobbish, petty, jealous, envious, angry, sensual, or worse.

[So intellectualism and sandemanianism are forms of antinomianism.]

[The third form of antinomianism is that of]
  
                    3C     Mysticism

This is a preoccupation with phenomena. Of course this was one of the problems with the church at Corinth and at Colosse.

[The second major danger facing the believer is that of…]

            2B     Legalism
         
This is the other side of the coin. It says doctrine doesn’t matter, experience doesn’t matter, feelings don’t matter – just practical living.

People put themselves back under the law and force themselves to do without giving any thought to what they are to be.

Our theme is “Don’t waste 2014!”

This is a good reminder for us all that with 2014 just around the corner we must be obedient and spiritually awake in order not to waste it.

Our passage suggests four ideas that helps us to see the necessity of waking up in order to not waste 2014.

The first idea suggested for us is…

The Apostolic Implication – it is implied that Paul is dealing with the believers conduct.

The second idea suggested for us is…

The Absolute Importance – it is important that believes understand that both doctrine and duty are necessary to a life that is worthy and pleasing to God.

[There is a third idea suggested for us and that is… 

3A     THE APPARENT INFERENCE

Paul spells out a basic principle that practical application is tied to our daily life and living.

How are we as Christians to live the Christian life?     

1B     The Negative Side of Paul’s Inference

There are two teachings that are prevalent that you need to know about:

          1C     The Victorious Life Teaching

          2C     The Overcoming Teaching

Because these teachings are similar I am going to deal with them together.

First – they are both false teachings. The bible does not teach them.

Second – they both teach that a miserable Christian is miserable because the individual in question is failing because he or she has fallen into sin.

Third – they both teach that you can be happy if you are delivered from those sins. If you are delivered you can then lead a happy, victorious life.

First of all – the teaching about victorious living starts with “you.” Are you happy? Are you in trouble? Are you failing? Is here something getting you down? Are you missing victory?

It almost always leaves God out of the mix.

Second – the NT never starts with your happiness, did you know that?
Where does the NT and the bible for that matter start?

          2B     The Positive Side of Paul’s Inference

I want to share four things about this idea of practical application:

1B     The NT always starts with God and His holiness

When you begin to understand and apply scripture you too must start with the holiness of God. Never start with yourself. Christianity is not a system designed to make you happy.

The primary purpose of Christianity is to reconcile us to God. It is to vindicate God’s holiness and to bring us to God.

          2B     The NT gives us the proper motive for believing

Your motive in believing or trusting in God is not to become happy as it is to know that you are one of God’s people and to enjoy the privileges of being a child of God.

You see Paul presenting his argument:

“…and do this, knowing the time.

Paul says you know certain things and in light knowing those certain things here is what you do.

Paul makes a statement that needs to be worked out. Truth needs to be put into action. The NT always starts with objective truth and not with a subjective condition.

You start with truth and then you apply that truth to your life. This is what a Christian does. 

          3B     It gives you a correct awareness of time

Paul believed the Roman Christians had this knowledge. This is why he wrote, “And do this, knowing the time…”

Paul is teaching unless you have a general idea and comprehension of the way of salvation and the plan and purpose of your salvation you will never be able to live this Christian life because all your motives are based on these truths.

          4B     It demands a proper world view

                    “…knowing the time…”

Paul says in essence, do this, or do these things because you are well aware of and tuned into the nature and the character of the period in which you live.

It is the proper time to arouse yourself from slumber, sleep, or in reality sloughfulness.

It means focus yourself on the manner in which you should be living as a Christian.

Why?

“…for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

Salvation or redemption is close. It is almost time. This day and age of sin, and difficulties is almost over. The work of Christ in delivering us from this present wicked world and our introduction into the purity and blessedness of heaven is very close.

Because eternity is near Paul urges his readers with this motivation in order for them to maintain devotion and diligence.
                  
Keep in mind that Paul is not saying to Romans or to us that we are actually sleeping. He is saying, because our ultimate salvation from this life is near, wake up from moral sleepiness. In other words, don’t let the philosophy, ideologies, and practices of this world lull you in to “sleep” that causes you to live sinfully. Paul is writing about a “moral drowsiness.” Those who are lulled to sleep by the sinful practices or ideas of this wicked world fall into sin and sinful practices.

“The night is far spent. The day is at hand…”

Our theme is don’t waste the New Year.

Remember that daily conduct is of absolute importance. We must shake off the philosophies and ideologies of this world to guard against falling to antinomianism or legalism. We must be obedient and take practical steps in throwing off this sleep and to remain awake.     

It’s time to wrap this up.

CONCLUSION

Just after John Bunyan's Pilgrim had lost his burden at the foot of the cross, a little farther on, at a bottom and very near the cross, he saw three men fast asleep with fetters on their heels.

 The name of one was Simple, another Sloth, and the third Presumption. When he awoke them, "Simple said, I see no danger; Sloth said, yet a little more sleep; and Presumption said, every tub must stand up on its own bottom."

Matthew Simpson wrote, “If this is to be a Happy New Year, a year of usefulness, a year in which we shall live to make this earth better, it is because God will direct our pathway. How important then, to feel our dependence upon Him!’


Wake up and do not waste the coming New Year!

1 comment:

writing for pleasure said...

A great post with much work gone into presenting it. Enjoyed the read.
I always love the start of a new year , full of hope for the things that did not come to fruitation in the year that has passed.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND FAMILY.
Yvonne.