Sermon

Walk the Talk

Walk the Talk sermon notes

Walk the Talk

Passage: Romans 8:1-9

Pastor Ben Marshall 

Key Goals: (Know) The impact of daily walking according to the Holy Spirit. (Feel) A deepening desire to walk according to the Spirit. (Do) Actively pursue growth in the fruit of the Spirit.

 

The Welcome —

Good morning, Calvary. I am Pastor Ben, and it is my honor and privilege this morning to share the Word of God with you. Before we go any further, though, I need to tell you something: I am selfish. I can be such a selfish person. I am married to Connie and we have a beautiful little daughter, Aliya, who just turned 8 months old. My selfishness reveals itself when our daughter starts to cry in the wee hours of the morning. It shows when I get home from a long day at work and want to sit and relax and do nothing. It shows when it’s time to change a poopy diaper. Now, that might be a silly example, but my selfishness also shows through in disagreements I have with my wife. I want my way. I want things done how I want them done, and if they aren’t, it’s the wrong way. I begin to get sinful in my heart in these moments and can, at times, say things that I shouldn’t say. I say things that aren’t the most loving or caring. Anyone else ever been there? Selfishness is one of the daily battles I have with temptation to sin. Selfishness tempts me to focus on my pleasure and my plan. But it is not okay to keep saying yes to selfishness, to my flesh. It’s not okay to continue living in that sinful attitude. It is a part of the old way of life. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am not called to live in my broken, old, selfish life. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus! The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

The truth sets us free, and there is freedom in that truth. How many of us have things in our “old life” that we regret and wish we had never done or said? You are not who you used to be; you are not your old self. You don’t have to continue living with that baggage. There is full forgiveness available through Jesus Christ. Whatever pain or hurt or baggage you are holding on to this morning, you can release it at the feet of Jesus. If you are currently living in your old life, your old self, but claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you don’t have to continue sinning. Today can be the end of that story and the beginning of a new story, one where Jesus Christ is the center. We are called to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) through Jesus Christ who loved us so much He sacrificed His very life for you and for me. Our focus this morning is going to be in the New Testament book of Romans. We’ll be looking at a few verses from chapter eight. There are two polarizing realities in this passage. On one side, there is the flesh; on the other, the Spirit.

 

The Word —

No Condemnation for those in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-2)

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Paul begins this chapter talking about condemnation. There is none for those who are in Christ! He has just discussed in Romans 7 his struggle with temptation, saying: 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand… 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…

The Greek word for condemnation is katakrima. It literally refers to the penalty our guilt demands. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The penalty our guilt demands—and we are all guilty of sin—the Bible tells us, is death. It is separation from God and condemnation. But for the believer in Jesus, the one who has a genuine relationship with and a repentant heart toward Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation.

There is a story Jesus shares in Matthew 18:23-27 of the servant who owes his master 10,000 talents—more money than most of us will ever see in our lifetime and way more than a servant could pay. One talent was worth about 20 years’ wages for a day laborer (20 years x 10,000 = 200,000 years of debt), and the master completely and utterly forgives the debt so it is no longer owed. It is forgiven and passed over. That is the kind of thing Paul is writing about here. There is complete and total cessation of debt owed for the person who is in Jesus Christ. This, in theological terms, is called justification. Justification is the truth that every believer in Jesus Christ is fully and forever released from the power and penalty of sin. Only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ are we justified and made righteous to stand sinless before the Holy God forever.

 

Jesus Christ condemns sin (Romans 8:3-4)

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The Law makes us aware of our sin. Paul writes in Romans 7 of his struggle with sin and the Law. He even goes so far as to say in verse 7: Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. The truth is that Jesus Christ did what the Law could not do and fully and forever paid the price of sin required by the law (which is condemnation to death) and satisfied the wrath of God for every person who humbly repents of his or her sin.

Romans 5:8-9 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. The beauty in this verse is two-fold: One, we don’t have to clean ourselves up to come to God. We don’t have to clean ourselves up to come to church. Jesus washes our sins white as snow. Two, Jesus Christ satisfied the wrath of God so we didn’t have to. Through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ you and I, if we believe in Him, are able to experience this freedom from condemnation and instead live in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Life, who has set us free in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? In Romans 6, Paul answered the question we might also think of in Romans 8: If there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, can’t we just live however we want to? Because we are forgiven, the price has been paid, why would it matter how I live my life? The next few verses provide an answer.

 

The Spirit is Life and Peace (Romans 8:5-8)

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

What are you setting your mind on, the flesh or the Spirit? Both will lead, and want to lead, your life. One leads to death. The other leads to life and peace.

A person setting their mind on the things of the flesh looks like one who pursues personal pleasure over God’s intended purpose; one who serves self rather than selflessly serving others; one who desperately desires comfort, sensuality, fame and fortune over humble submission to the Holy Spirit of God and seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness. This is the person who, according to verses 7-8, is hostile toward God and cannot please God.

A person setting their mind on the things of the Spirit looks like one who loves the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; one who loves their neighbor as their self; one who studies Scripture and, as James writes, is a doer of the Word, not a hearer only (John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments); one who seeks the Lord and His glory for every life decision and direction. This is the person who is continually growing in the fruit of the Spirit.

 

The Spirit of God dwells inside believers (Romans 8:9)

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.

How do we know if the Holy Spirit is living in us? Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. If we are setting our minds on the things of the Spirit, walking daily according to the Spirit, these fruit will be present and increasing in our lives. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These fruit should be evident in the life of a follower of Christ. In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus says:

“15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Paul continues in verses 24 and 25 of Galatians 5. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Claiming to follow Christ and actually following Christ are markedly different lifestyles. The one who belongs to Christ Jesus—who loves Him by keeping His commandments, who is growing in the fruit of the Spirit—is one who also crucifies the flesh with its passions and desires. This person doesn’t just set their mind on the things of the Spirit, but actively, daily, crucifies the flesh.

 

The Wrap-Up —

John MacArthur writes, “It is God’s great desire that…[believers] live like His children and no longer like the children of the world and of Satan.”[1] This morning there are three things I want to highlight for those who call themselves followers of Christ:

 

First, you are free from the condemnation of sin.

Allow this to impact your daily life and decisions. Galatians 5:1 says For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. When you do give in to temptation, seek repentance and forgiveness. We know God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, so let us confess and live, as we are free from condemnation.

Second, you can daily walk according to the Spirit.

This is not available to everyone, but only those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ. Since you can walk according to the Spirit, do it. There are no excuses. The polarizing nature of Romans 8:1-9 is that we are either walking according to the Spirit or the flesh.

 

Third, the Spirit brings life and peace.

Believers in Jesus Christ have the Spirit of God in them, so have available the life and peace of God. Imagine the impact of this on your marriage. When you get in a disagreement, or you are tempted to argue or keep pushing to make your voice heard and get your point across, what if, instead, you walked according the Spirit and used the fruit of love, peace, patience, kindness and gentleness? How would that change your marriage? Imagine the impact on your friendships. Instead of choosing friends who are running full tilt after the things of the world, you find friends who are pursuing Jesus Christ and His Word. These kinds of friends don’t tempt you to sin but help you grow in joy and self-control as you walk together in the Spirit. Imagine the impact on your family. As you keep in step with the Spirit, you are leading your children and your spouse and your extended family out of the overflow of the life and peace you are experiencing in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You are parenting and interacting with extended family members with kindness and gentleness, with faithfulness and self-control. Imagine the impact on your neighbors. As you engage them in relationships, they see you lead your family, faithfully show up, exhibit patience and joy daily. This builds a bridge you can then cross to share Jesus Christ with them. Who knew the kind of impact walking in step with the Spirit could have? It reverberates across every area of your life.

 

For the person here this morning, uncertain where you are in relation to Jesus Christ, you have a decision to make. If you continue in your flesh, saying yes to all that brings pleasure and comfort and temporary satisfaction, you will continually need more and more and it will bring death and separation from God. Living for yourself is blatant hostility toward God. It is telling the Creator of the Universe you make a better god in your life than He does. But, if you call on Jesus Christ today as your Lord and Savior, you can become a new creation. Calling on Jesus Christ as your Savior means you recognize that you cannot save your own life, you cannot be good enough or do good enough to work your way to heaven and a right relationship with God. You are confessing that Jesus Christ is your Savior from sin, your mediator to God, and the only One who can satisfy what you are looking for. Calling on Jesus as your Lord means you abdicate the throne of your life and you kick everyone else out of the throne room. No one and nothing dictates and rules over your life anymore: no addiction, no person, no relationship, no job. Just Jesus. Every decision, big or small, is run through Jesus Christ as your center, as your Lord. Do you need to do that this morning?

Or maybe you’ve gotten away from that and you need to recommit to Jesus Christ as your Lord. It is sometimes easy/tempting to just want Jesus as our Savior. We know we can’t work our way to heaven, but giving up control in our own lives and allowing Jesus to be the Lord of our lives? That’s a different story. That’s hard. It rubs against my pride and selfishness and desire to be in control. But it’s the only true way to life and peace. Will you recommit to that? Let’s pray.

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Ben Marshall. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] MacArthur, 411.

The Rebuild: Corrosion

The Rebuild: Corrosion sermon notes

 

Corrosion

Passage: James 5:1-5

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

The Church @ Hamilton

Sunday, March 19, 2017

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand there are enemies to our rebuild. (Feel) Feel compelled to fight against self-indulgence. (Do) Place God and his mission first in our life.

Introduction: Last week in our series on James, we looked at a formidable enemy of rebuilding our lives: arrogance. We found that arrogance shows up when we judge others and when we presume upon the future. As we move into chapter 5 this morning, James has one more enemy to introduce to us: the enemy of self-indulgence. James was such an interesting guy. Even though Jesus was his older half-brother, there is zero indication that James believed in or even followed Jesus while he was alive. Yet after the resurrection he became one of the leading apostles of the church. I sort of get that, though; I know I would need some serious convincing if my brother declared that he was the creator of the world.

Unlike the twelve apostles, James never left Jerusalem. He was appointed as overseer of Jerusalem and was also the most “Jewish” of the apostles. History tells us that he was known for how righteously he kept the Law, so much so that the other apostles feared him. Peter refused to eat with Gentiles because he was afraid James might hear about it (Gal. 2:11-12), and James asked Paul to buy the sacrifices for some men about to take a Nazirite vow and Paul obeyed (Acts 21:18-26.)[1] What an incredible guy he had to be that apostle Peter was afraid of him and the apostle Paul obeyed him. While historians disagree on exactly how it happened, we know that the pharisees martyred James in Jerusalem. They were upset at how many people were coming to Christ. What is interesting for us this morning is that it was happening amongst the religious elite and the wealthy. Jewish temple priests and rich landowners—powerful and influential people—were repenting of their sins and turning to Christ.

Listen to Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. In our passage this morning you are going to see why James was killed, but I also think you will see why so many repented and turned to Christ. Listen to how strong this language is. James 5:1–6[2]

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

If I were a wealthy first century Jewish landowner reading this passage, I imagine I would either be genuinely convicted and love James for his boldness to confront, or I would think he was a jerk, shooting his mouth off about matters he does not understand. It would be hard to read this and stay neutral. How I would like to handle the passage this morning is for us to take a few minutes and break down exactly what James was saying to his immediate audience, and what they would have heard and thought. Then let’s fast forward 2000 years and see if God has a message for you and me this morning.

 

Confronting Corrosion: James begins by calling out rich people. Look at verse 1. Come now, you rich. James is addressing a very specific class of people. He does not distinguish whether or not they are believers, just their socio-economic status. They are rich.

First Century Context: First century Israel was a peasant society in the sense that “its sole of source income was subsistence farming.” In his book ‘Peasants’, Eric R. Wolf describes peasants as rural cultivators whose surpluses were extracted by the ruling elite in order to underwrite its own standard of living.[3] Perhaps you remember the phrase “Pax Romana” or Roman peace—the idea that Romans conquered the known world and made it peaceful for centuries? The Pax Romana was real, but hidden behind that “peace” were oppressive tributes, taxes, and tolls that completely impoverished the average person. So the wealthy grew wealthier and the poor grew poorer. This problem was compounded by the fact that the wealthy elite were also the “purity elite;” the wealthy also controlled the temple, the tithes, and sacrificial offerings. The rich exploited the poor through religious purity—this is the very reason why Jesus in Matthew 21 turned over the moneychangers’ tables in the temple: they had turned God’s house into an oppressive exploitation machine.

So both individual Roman rulers and the Jewish religious elite subjugated the average person. Why is this important to know? Because of what James says next. Go back to the end of verse 1 …weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. The two Greek words for weep and howl have the idea of crying out in misery or torment. The word “howl” actually sounds like someone crying in pain (ololull). James is warning the rich to repent and prepare for a coming judgment. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. This is language not seen anywhere else in the New Testament; James almost sounds like an Old Testament prophet. The view James is trying to give us is from eternity. So much wealth has been accumulated that it can’t begin to be used, so it rots and rusts. It is the rot and rust that indicts the rich man. But as we will see in a moment, gold and silver are not the rich man’s problem; it is their heart.

 

The hidden enemy of greed.

4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

The way labor worked during this time period was if you worked for a day, you were paid that evening. You then took that money and bought food for your family. You have probably heard 2 Thessalonians 3:10 If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. That thought comes from this economic model. What the rich would do was withhold wages. So instead of paying every night, they would pay them at the end of the harvest. The laborer would have to borrow money to buy food and then pay off his loan once he got paid; of course they never made enough money to cover the interest, so the laborers effectively became indentured slaves, while the landowners made vast fortunes from abusing them. It was pure greed. James warns that the cries of the abused have reached the ears of the Lord.

So the enemy James is addressing is greed, the craving for wealth that leads a person to do sinful actions in order to grow rich. Paul warned against the same thing in 1 Timothy 6:9–10. Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. Both Paul and James warn us that the love of money (greed) will draw us away from God and cause us to treat people in ways that God will judge.

 

The hidden enemy of self-indulgence.

5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

The rich that James was rebuking lived luxurious lives. But again, it wasn’t the luxury that was the problem, it was the self-indulgence. The self-indulgent person throws off restraint and discipline and yields to the desire to gratify their own selfish appetites and cravings. Just because we can have something does not mean we should indulge in it. Throughout scripture we are warned against feeding our passions and lusts, and urged instead to develop self-control, generosity and an others-centeredness.[4] Interestingly, the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, tried to find happiness through self-indulgence. Listen to what he found. Ecclesiastes 2:1–11.

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine...

4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. 9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure…

11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

 Solomon found that self-indulgence does not bring happiness; it is vanity. James warns that those who spend their lives seeking to indulge their desires fatten their hearts for the slaughter. This is again a reference to judgment. James wants the self-indulgent to understand that a day will soon come when they will answer for how they lived. Let’s fast forward to today. What should we walk away thinking?

 

You don’t have to be rich to be greedy or self-indulgent. Lying on your taxes, stealing from your employer, padding your timecard, sneaking money from your mother’s purse, over eating, bingeing on Netflix, refusing to give—these are all symptoms of greed and self-indulgence.  James really focuses in on one aspect of greed and warns us that God “hears the cries” of those who are being hurt by our greed. Before we think we don’t have any greed to repent of, let’s think a moment about how greedy people hurt those around them:

1. Greedy people must be first in line, so beware if you are in front of them.

2. Greedy people are always looking for loopholes or ways to game the system—watch out.

3. Greedy people abuse service workers who depend on tips.

4. Greedy people live for now and expect others to pay later.

5. Greedy people do as little work as possible and expect others to fill the gaps.

6. Greedy people blame innocent people as they bluff and lie their way out of trouble.

7. Greedy people covet; they covet your stuff, your spouse, your prestige, and they will take it given half a chance.

God will judge greed because of how it abuses other people. Believers are to be recognized by our love, not our greed. In fact, humility mixed with love is the antidote to greed and self-indulgence. Listen to Philippians 2:3–4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. He goes on to say in Philippians 2:5–8 (NIV) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

 

Community Group Questions

 

1.          Read James 5:1-6 out loud with your group. Discuss key words or phrases that jump out of the text.

2.          When you hear the word “self-indulgent,” what comes to your mind?

3.          Look at the “seven ways greed hurts others” found at the end of the sermon. Discuss a time you have seen one of these in action.

4.          James tells us that God “hears the cries” of the abused laborers. Can you think of another passage where God says he heard the cries of abused laborers and acted on their behalf? How is this similar or different?

5.          Discuss how humility and love might “cure” greed and self-indulgence.

 

[1] Adapted from “The Death of James the Just, Brother of Jesus Christ” http://www.christian-history.org/death-of-james.html

[2] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

[3] https://heldercarlosdotcom.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/the-socio-political-and-economic-situation-in-the-first-century-c-e-palestine-the-earthly-ministry-of-jesus-and-the-programme-of-renewal-for-the-people-of-israel/

[4] Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009).

Discipleship Bootcamp: Effective & Defective Prayer

Sermon Audio:

Sermon Notes: Discipleship Bootcamp: Effective & Defective Prayer

Does God always hear us? Does He always consider your prayers? Would you like to know if God always hears you? Before we answer that question, we must first turn to a more fundamental question--what is prayer?