Your worst enemy, your biggest fight - Part II
Pastor Jacob shares part 2 of the Sermon series, by looking at how we can go about fighting our worst enemy. See the previous post to read through Part I.
Today is Sunday December 13th
We only have 1 Announcement this Morning, and that is about our Christmas Eve Service, at 730pm
We’ll be Worshipping together--
Watching a nice presentation from the Sunday School class--
And hearing about the God of all creation coming to Earth to die for sinners
With that, the children are dismissed
Today’s message, for those of you who may not have been here last week, is going to be PART 2 of last week’s.
Last week we talked about who our worst enemy is, and reading through sections of Scripture from Jeremiah 17 and Romans 7, we learned that we ourselves------ are our worst enemy.
And today, we are going to talk about fighting that enemy.
Not running away in fear from
But standing our ground, and picking a fight.
The Bible verses that show us this truth, comes to us today in:
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
( → → Opening Prayer ← ← )
So before we get into what is being said here, and why, ------ a little recap.
Last week we looked at the truth spoken in Jeremiah 17:9 that says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
Our natural state as humans, is one of a dead sinner in need of saving.
We are basically good people, who make bad choices sometimes----
We aren't a blank slate that gets corrupted by bad parenting or by a bad society---
Our heart is not a shiny and pristine Moral Compass capable of directing our life to lush fields of a thriving life---
We are by default, sinners--
It is in our nature---
It is who we are---
Because of this, we are our own worst enemy.
We whisper sweet lies to ourselves, and follow them time after time----
We make the same mistakes we should have learned from in the past----
We do downright stupid things we know we shouldn't----
Our heart is infected with sin, and the more we follow it, the further away from God we end up.
We looked at Isaiah 53:6 that says: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
Every human ever, has followed their own sinful heart away from God
But then----we looked at the second part of that verse that says that God
“has laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.”
God took our sins---
Our bad and stupid choices---
Our evil and wicked choices---
The sin in our life, was taken and placed on the body of Jesus Christ for all who repent and believe----- and He received the wrath of God on their behalf.
When that happened, we became immediately prepared to do battle with our worst enemy.
Because prior to that, we not only lacked the ability to fight, but we lacked the desire to as well.
Before the Holy Spirit chooses to live intertwined with your soul, you lack the ability and the desire to fight your sinful heart as it pulls you away from God.
And that is where we pick up our message for today.
One thing needs to be clarified though.
Reciting a Christian catchphrase is not what makes someone a Christian.
Saying “I believe in God” does not save you -----
Even the demons believe
And they will spend eternity in hell alongside all those people who thought that simple belief was enough to save them
You see----- if we want to be saved, and forgiven and have the Holy Spirit live within us -------
Then we have to understand that-----
parroting the words of the Preacher, though they may be true and factual, is not what brings your dead soul back to life.
Vomiting out “the sinners prayer” doesn’t magically summon the Holy Spirit into your soul as if God were some genie waiting for us to rub our Bibles the right way---
Because it is far deeper ----- that going up to an altar after the Preacher says nice words and then the worship leaders plays some soft ambient music to manipulate your emotions into convincing you that you just need a little Jesus in your life.
You see ---- you don't find God ---- God finds you
And when He does------- he causes a reaction in us ------- that makes us hate and despise and turn away from the parts of us that shouldn't be there.
It is God making the first move in our heart, causing us to believe ---- and -----causing us to repent and ask for forgiveness,
Then and only then ----- can we say that we have been saved
When we realize that we are entirely helpless to save ourselves-----
And that it is only the unsolicited---
Undeserving grace of God flowing forth from heaven all because He chose to save me---------
THEN we will
Hate those parts of us that pull us away from God-----
THEN we will hate the thoughts and the actions and the emotions inside of who we are as a person, that tempt us and pulls us into territory that we know we shouldn't be in----
It is the hating of everything there is within you, in either your mental life or your physical life, that doesn't align with Scripture, that signifies if someone had their dead soul called out of the grave
That is what Jesus was talking about in our verses this morning, when He says:
“... “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
If you want to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you must do two things:
We deny ourselves-----
And take up our cross----
These two things, are not only the signifiers of someone who is a disciples of Jesus Christ, they are how you fight that old you that hides behind your thoughts and whispers in your ears-----
How can we be free of those creeping thoughts of lust or anger that burn behind our words----
How can survive against the stream of evil that flows within our hearts, be it a trickle or be it a flood----
When the evil that lives within you, that you know is there and have been wrestling against for years--------- begins to erode away the shore line of your soul, invading your waking thoughts, and you seem helpless against the tide ------ these two things are how we stand against the current.
We deny ourselves----
And we take up our cross---
This is how you fulfill the words Romans 6:6-7 when it says:
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
If You Die Before You Die ----- Then You Won’t Die When You Die.
You see, our verses this morning come right after Peter has confessed who Jesus is.
Just a few sentences prior to our verses this morning, Peter enthusiastically and out loud for all to hear, confesses to Jesus: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the most high God”
Jesus was asking His disciples, who do people say that I am?
Some say a prophet
Some say john the baptizer
Some say elijah
And then He asks all of them-----but who do YOU say that I am?
And Peter, good ol Peter, shouts out loud “You are the Messiah, the Son of the most high God!” WOOOO HOOOOO
But then ----- just a few breaths later, he tries to rebuke Jesus, and gets called satan----
The immediately, Jesus says our verses this morning----- if anyone wants to be His disciple, they have to deny themselves and take up their cross.
Peter puts his foot in his mouth---
And then Jesus gives us two aspects of what it means to follow Him---
So if you don't know, this interaction is totally in line with the kind of person that Saint Peter was.
He spoke, before he thought
He acted-----before he thought
In fact, when the Romans came to take Jesus away----
Peter is the one who took up his sword to fight them off, and ended up chopping off a guys ear-----
Peter had a big personality
He was impulsive
I'm sure that if we all were to make a list that no one else would ever see, a lot of us would describe ourselves with some of those words.
So when Jesus was describing His plan to be tortured and nailed to a tree ----- to save humanity-----
Peter acted just like the kind of person he was---
Maybe a little arrogant
Speaking without thinking
I mean, this was just after he said that Jesus was the messiah----and then he goes ahead and tries to correct the person he himself knows is the Son of God, like really dude?
Who Peter was as a person----- was someone that needed change
Yes God made Him in a certain way to accomplish certain things and act in certain ways
But like we spoke about last week ----- our hearts no longer exist in a perfect state
They are fallen
That are filled with sin ----- they are corrupted
And not only that, but like we said last week ---- they have accumulated all the garbage that this life can throw at us.
So now------ we have a huge issue in front if us, don't we ------
When Jesus is telling us to deny ourselves-----
What is He talking about?
Which self is He talking about?
The new me?
Am I to just be a puppet with no personality?
Or is it the “old me” that followed my own heart away from God?
What about me --- shouldn't be there?
Is the attitude that I have taken years to shape and form and build, something that shouldn't be there?
These are hard questions that you must ask yourself if you wish to be a disciple of Jesus Christ-----
Is my own, me, Pastor Jacob Marchitell, is my in your face ---- over the top ----- personality ---- something that God built me with?
Or was it formed by my environment?
By my father leaving me?
By my failures?
Did my own sinful nature interact with my environment in such a way that it shaped my personality into something that I identify myself with as being the authentic me ----- all the while I am standing outside of and contrary to how God designed me to be?
Ask yourself these questions---- and be prepared to accept the answer when it comes
Is who you are as a person -----
All of your personality traits---
Your likes and dislikes---
Is who you are as a person-----
Who God made you to be?
Or are you an after-effect of the manner in which your life has unfolded?
Are the aspects of your personality something that God wants to be there?
Has He tried to warn you over and over and over again that these things about you that must go?
But you continue to attribute His warnings as OTHER PEOPLE taking offence to you?
What about you, shouldn't be there?
You could be answering to yourself ---- Nothing! And I am offended that you even ask that!
I've spent years and decades forming myself---
You have no idea what I have gone through and I am still tough and holding on---
And allllll those things that were brought to my mind when you started talking----are the things that I have relied upon to survive the storms of this life----
How Dare you say otherwise----
Or on the contrary---- you could be saying to yourself---- there's nothing in here that shouldn't be---- I am already a Christian----
I say Christian words----
I think Christian thoughts----
I behave the way a Christian behaves---
I call out sin and immorality and injustice----
And I share those pictures of Jesus every time I see them on Facebook----
But hard truth that must be taught, is that------
Even if the things you say are true and in accordance with Scripture ----- do you coldly and callously spit them out and say “I'm just speaking truth” ?
Do you ever use the phrase “I'm just saying what everyone else is thinking” ?
Do you excuse and justify your mistakes and bad behavior?
Or ------do you have those thoughts and do those bad behaviors----- and then bring them to God?
When you lay your head upon your pillow, and in the privacy of your own heart, do you cry out to God to be conformed more and more into the image of His Son?
What is there inside of me God, that shouldn't be there?
How do I need to change?
Break me down God until all that is left is what YOU want to be there-----
Why am I like this God?
Is this who you made me to be?
Take those things from me that shouldn't be there-----
because I lack the willpower to give them up
I will hold tightly to them in direct defiance of you-----
so take it away God---- pry it from my heart no matter how badly it hurts me----
I don't want to be this way---
I don't want to be who I think I am --- no matter if I have fought the battles this world has thrown at me over and over and over again ----- I only want to be the kind of person that YOU say I am
When God looks down from heaven and His eyes settle upon you and upon the content of your heart------
When He sees you in your waking day going to your work, spending time with your family ----
When He sees the secrets of your heart that you keep hidden from everyone ----
Does He see someone trying really really hard to be a Christian?
Or does He see the blood of His Son?
Because those are the only options.
Is who you are as a person, the person who God wants you to be?
What will it take for you to find out?
Do you want to find out?
And once you do----- will you deny yourself ---- the you that God does not want ---- in order to be His disciple?
Denying yourself ----- is how you live as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and living for Him, is how you fight yourself
And the second way ----- taking up your cross
There is a common saying that's been floating around for years:
“That's my cross to bear”
“Oh your family has a history of this or that ….. that's just your cross to bear”
“I have this issue in my life that never seems to go away…. That's just my cross to bear.”
All of that----is a bunch of nonsense.
I'm not sure how these words of our savior became morphed to mean “dealing with a burden” but that is not what He is talking about.
How do we know? Well, where and when ---- were they when these words were spoken?
You see------ when Jesus told His followers here in Matthew 16 ----- to take up your cross and follow Him ------ they would not be thinking along those lines ------ because there was a cultural context here
Remember that at this time, Israel is under Roman Rule----
They are the government in charge of everything and everyone
They made the laws
And they made the punishment for when those laws were infringed upon
And one of those punishments was the death penalty ----- it was Crucifixion and everything involved with it
It started with public torture
Whipping till your spine and ribs were exposed
bloodletting and tearing of the flesh and muscles
Then ---- carrying, literally carrying on your back, of a wooden cross---- through crowded city streets------
Where people would mock you, slap you, throw rocks at you, and spit on you----
Then after that----- you would be stripped completely naked, in front of hundreds of people---
Your naked and bleeding body would be nailed, through your hands and feet to the cross you just carried----
You would be lifted high up for everyone to see and mock and throw stuff at you----
In front of hundreds of jeering and sneering people, mocking and laughing at you, your naked and bloody body
Would be left there, until your own weight pulled your chest cavity closed so your lungs couldn't inflate----
And then feeling this suffocating ----- you would put pressure on the nails and on your flayed open back, to try and catch your breath -----
Until eventually, sometimes days at a time ----- you would lack the strength to do so, and you would suffocate.
Or they would shatter your shin bones with a giant hammer, and you couldn't pull up enough to make room for your lungs to inflate--- and you would suffocate and die---
It was a public---
Drawn out as long as possible ------ death penalty
This is what Jesus’ Disciples would immediately think ---- when He told them that to be His disciples they must take up their cross and follow Him.
Bearing your cross doesn't mean dealing with something burdensome to your life -----
It means the total and complete abandonment of your life, in the face of extreme opposition.
Do you want to fight those parts of yourself that you hate?
Do you want to stand against the evil within you that pulls you into stupid choices and dumb decisions?
Then carry your cross------
Give up everything in your life ------
Give up who you think are----
I'm not saying seek out and go after and do things intentionally to make people mad at you, and then claim ----- “oh they hate me because i'm a Christian” ---- no, they hate you because you're using Christianity as an excuse to be a jerk.
But ----- what would it be worth ------ to give up those parts of who you are ---- and live your life according to the entirety of Scripture
Would you lose your job?
Would you lose your home?
Would you ruin your credit?
Would your family abandon you?
Would you be willing for the culture at large to mock and berate you?
If going to Church today---- means tomorrow you won't be able to go to a store or to work----- would you still attend?
Would you lose your life?
Would you RISK losing your life?
If aligning your life according to what Scripture teaches ------ and rejecting anything and everything else that stands in contrast ------- means losing everything you hold near and dear, including who you are as a person -------- will you do it?
Will you leave behind everything and everyone in this world that tells you: If you continue to believe these things---- then I don't want you to be a part of my life anymore ----- Will you stand? Or will you bend?
Not using your faith as an excuse to be a rebellious jerk, because you know it offends people-----
But kindly, gently, respectfully, standing in opposition to everything that is not of God.
What are you willing to give up?
What are you willing to let loose your control of and put in God’s hands?
Would you compromise and compromise and compromise ---- little by little ----
Everything that Scripture says about life and God-----
To appease your spouse?
To appease your parents?
To appease your children or grandchildren or siblings?
Would you compromise what Scripture teaches-----
To appease yourself so you can sleep guilt free?
Would you do it to appease your culture?
Would you stop going to Church so that the businesses you like to go to, will let you in their doors?
To appease your government?
At what point in your life are you willing to go to, to live your life for the one who made you?
Is it being uncomfortable with lewd jokes?
Is that as far as you are willing to go?
Is it being federally mandated to wear a mask?
Is that your limit?
Is giving up your Bible?
Not being allowed to gather on Sundays?
Not being allowed to worship and practice your religion?
Being shunned by your family member who lives contrary to what God says?
Are you willing to lay down your life when the time comes?
Both emotionally and physically----
Have you gone past that point ----- and feel like you can’t come back?
Are you afraid that you'll bow to your heart or bow to your culture?
Do you want to stand against the wickedness you see in your heart?
Do you want to stand against the wickedness you see in your culture?
Fight your lusts
Fight your anger
Your desires to control and manipulate
Fight those parts of yourself that you hate and wish weren't there, by denying them and giving them up to God
Literally say, with your literal mouth -----
“God I have these parts of me that I know shouldn't be there, but I can't get rid of them on my own, please take them from me”
Fight yourself into submission before your God------
Fight the culture that mocks our King and His teachings----
Fight the government that seeks to be our god-----
Live your life for Jesus Christ
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
( → → Closing Prayer ← ← )