This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on February 12th 2023 by Navaz D. For the audio & video please click here. To listen to the worship please click here.
CHOSEN - A HOLY PEOPLE
Over the last few weeks, we went through the vision and values of the Church. We looked at the importance of the foundations of our faith and then we looked at some important areas each one of us needs to grow in as disciples of Jesus (private worship, public worship, Heart worship, small groups, loving one another, obedience to God’s Word, serving, and reaching out.)
Today we are going to remind ourselves of a couple more foundational values that every Christ follower needs to live by.
So how do you grow into maturity and become this reproducing adult Christian? You need to remember who you are and why you are here.
Here are two passages of scripture that remind us of these truths.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1Peter 2:9-10
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. EPH 2:19-20
PEOPLE OF PURPOSE AND PRESENCE
God has chosen you for a God in His rich mercy and great sacrifice of His Son brought you to repentance and saved you from hell.
He made you a chosen people (so it’s not just you alone, you are knitted to a worldwide web of believers.) He chose you.
Not just that he made you a royal priesthood!!! You serve before the King of Kings!!! Your job is to intercede on behalf of everyone who is not yet in the family, so that they may be saved.
A Holy Nation – God always wanted a people for Himself who would be a light for the world that through them many would come to salvation.
We are to live set apart, undefiled, pure, and blameless until the day of Christ. This is our calling. This is who we are. WHY?
So that we may show forth the praises of Him to the ones who still do not know Him.
Ephesians starts with “Consequently” or therefore… Paul is reminding the Ephesian church of how God saved them from God’s wrath and judgement and now the gentiles have become the chosen people of God. Therefore, live as ones who are the Holy temple of God.
Let’s watch a VIDEO. https://youtu.be/7EofsF61kcU
What do you see in this video? Is the lady’s behaviour normal? Would any of you tolerate this in your marriage? Now keep in mind who we are. We are a chosen people, holy and set apart. Can we be flirting during the engagement?
But sometimes our lives can look just like what we saw in the video. We have not cut off from our old boyfriends/ sin habits/lifestyles/desires.
Paul tells us that we must put the deeds of the flesh to death. Don’t try to tame it, don’t try to control it – KILL it.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:13)
The first commandment And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.3 “You shall have no other gods before me.” Ex 20:2
We may say that we have no idols and that we only follow Christ. Pit stop check: you may be right. How about the idols of the heart?
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
Remember you are a Royal priesthood – you are special. You are not common therefore you cannot live like a commoner. We are reminded repeatedly that we are strangers to this world, therefore, do not get involved in civilian or common things.
So, what are some of the idols of the heart? There are many. But here are some that keep us from fulfilling our calling and corrupting our influence on the world.
What is an idol?
Anything that we desire more than God or that takes the place of God.
The Greek word is “epithumiai” – over desire.
Idols of the HEART – the word of God says the heart is the wellspring of life (Prov. 4:23), and out of the overflow of the heart comes all kinds of greed etc. (Matt 15:19)
Behaviour is a product of beliefs which is the ROOT of the issue.
This message is not about behaviour modification but heart transformation. When the heart is in the right place, the behaviour automatically follows. Whenever you see a behaviour change (good or bad) you know something has changed in a person’s heart.
Some idols can even be good things. The key is we over-desire them.
Timothy Keller writes, “God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the centre of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfilment, if we attain them.”
Look at Adam and Eve. They wanted to gain wisdom apart from God who is the fount of all wisdom. She did not want to run to God for wisdom and knowledge, she wanted it independent of God.
Idolatry is a heart issue – people abandon God’s methods for life and chase after their ways as they become wise in their own eyes
At the root of idolatry is a lack of trust in God’s goodness.
Religion can be an idol too – when we seek the gifts, ministry, position etc more than Jesus.
AREAS OF IDOLATRY
You can’t always feel good. To project that would be deception and create false impressions. It’s an inaccurate assessment of where I am right now.
The feel-good idol wants a life of pleasure at all costs. You do not walk led by the Spirit but by feelings. Freedom is not permission to do your own thing rather it is freedom from inner compulsions.
The need to look good is all about appearances. Life in God is about being authentic. Insecurity makes you hide who you are. So, you pretend, and it is bondage. This makes you lie, cheat, and create false impressions and you will do all kinds of things to make you have a good impression of me. People pleasing is very important to you.
So, we project an image of ourselves as Holy, serving, giving, and spiritual but the real you is seen by God.
Marriages have split on this one i.e the inability to yield. Friendships have gone sour, and churches have split because of Pride and the inability to say, “I was wrong, please forgive me”.
4. STAY IN CONTROL
You can lose friendships, your marriage and even your job over this one. Whatever it is in your mind that says “you must do it my want” is an idol of control.
The idols that we have in our hearts come at a cost. What is the price that you are willing to pay to keep them?
Though we struggle we have someone who helps us to overcome. Jesus came for us who need Him daily. Jesus came so that we can give up our idols and embrace Him.
What will keep us from falling into the trap of idolatry? Idolatry is placing anything or anyone above Jesus. It is an over-desire for something that takes us away from worship and obedience to God.
The answer is found in the Word of God.
1. THE FEAR OF THE LORD
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Prov 1:7 Hebrew word for fear – yirah - reverence The Hebrew verb yare can mean “to fear, to respect, to reverence” and the Hebrew noun yirah “usually refers to the fear of God and is viewed as a positive quality. (Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament, 2003, pp. 470-471).
The Greek noun phobos can mean “reverential fear” of God, “not a mere ‘fear’ of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, “Fear, Fearful, Fearfulness”)
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Prov 14:27
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt 10:28
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111:10
12 work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Fear of God will keep us from sin.
Today there has been an unbalanced approach to the Grace of God.
Grace is God’s empowering For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, Titus 2:11-14
When we give people unsanctified mercy, we short-circuit the process of repentance and set people up for judgement!
When you empathize be biblical You can say but for the grace of God, I could have done the same thing so I am no one to condemn you. You point them to Jesus.
The fear of man or the need to please is inversely proportional to the fear of God. i.e. – the more you want to please others or be seen as the nice guy the less you will fear God.
There is a difference between the fear of God and being afraid of God. When we sin, we hide. After all, we are afraid to enter into the presence of God. Adam and Eve did that.
Fear is reverence, honour, and deep respect that results in obedience.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord."
Isaiah 11:2-3 NIV Jesus delighted in the fear of the Lord!! How much more do we?
2. KEEP OURSELVES IN THE LOVE OF GOD
The other thing that will keep us from idols is if we keep ourselves in the love of God. Jude commands But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love Jude 20-21
And when we do that, He “is able” to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before God.
Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.[f]
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 22-25
Remember you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation, belonging to God. We are different, we are not common. We have a high call. Revival will come when the church aligns her heart with His.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English-speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.
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