By John J. Blanchard
December 24, 2011
Good morning, brethren! The fact that we are human beings guarantees that we are going to have weaknesses. We are going to have problems, and we are going to face trials. We often look at Romans 1:20 which speaks of physical creation as a learning tool to understand the mind of God. Let’s turn to Romans 1:20 and read it to remind ourselves.
Romans 1, verse 20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”
We have often rightly looked at creation, whether it is the sun, moon, stars, or mountains, to look for the spiritual lessons that God has for us. There is one place where we do not often tie the two together, and that is our own personal physical selves. Because we are human, God knows we have weaknesses. He knows our frailties, and He understands that we are but dust and that Satan is a very powerful enemy. He knows what our weaknesses are as well, and he tempts us in a variety of ways. We can look at ourselves and learn some spiritual lessons about physical and spiritual things.
THREE FACTORS THAT MAKE US
Let’s spend a moment and look at physical life. There are basically three main factors that make us what we are: genetics, our environment, and our choices – that is, our freewill. With these and within them are the seeds of our own destruction. You might say, with them are the seeds of our own demise. Doctors and scientists are beginning to learn more and more about predisposition by genetics. Certain types of cancer can be traced through families. Heart disease can be traced through families. Arthritis, nervous disorders, and a variety of things they are finding can be traced through family history. We cannot do a whole lot about that. Exactly what we are born with is what we are born with. You know the old saying, you cannot choose your parents.
The second factor is the environment. Initially I would like to divide that into two spheres: the atmosphere that we are raised in and our habitat. The atmosphere we were raised in encompasses many things. Were we raised in a loving environment? Were we raised in a very harsh or overly strict environment? Were we raised in a very frugal way, or were we indulged all of the time? Were we part of a dysfunctional family, or were we part of what we would call a normal nuclear family? Were we raised wisely and caringly, or were we left basically to shift for ourselves? That is the atmosphere that we were raised in. That is part of the environment that really we do not have a whole lot of control over when we are young.
Then there is the habitat. Where was our family located? Were we in a rural area or a big city? Were we in an area full of poverty or in an area full of riches that the world has to offer? Were we raised in a house full of second-hand smoke or drug abuse or perhaps alcohol abuse? Were we raised in a house where there was no reading and the TV was on all the time? Or did our parents take time to teach us and nurture us in an educational way? Were we served good nourishing food so we would be healthy and strong when we grew up? There again, did we live on junk food? Did we attend a school system that was very poor quality, or were we in a top-notch school system? Were our peers that we lived around and played with and associated with into drugs, alcohol, and smoking, or were they uplifting, encouraging, and into better, healthier activities?
CHOICES TRUMP GENETICS
This list of things we had a little bit of control over, but not as much as we would like until we got older. Then we come to the fact that we make our own decisions. As we got older, we made more and more of our own decisions. That is what I want to focus on today. With those things that are genetic and environmental we know there are negatives that we cannot do a whole lot about. But when it comes to the choices we make, we can certainly have an impact on our genetics, on the atmosphere around us, and the habitat we live in.
Choices can trump genetics. They have found more and more now that people can really do something about heart disease and do something about the chance they will get cancer. They can do this by living a clean life, by eating good food, by having a balanced diet, and by getting exercise. You are not condemned to a future just because you were born a certain way or you were raised in a certain environment.
There are many Horatio Alger stories of people starting out in poverty and doing just fine in life. Or there are people who start out on the wrong side of the tracks and really make something of themselves. It would be wrong headed to say just because we have genetics or a certain environment we were raised in, we are condemned to a life of failure and a life of misery. That is not true, but it is our choices, basically, that make it happen and make it change. We need to do that in our spiritual lives. That is what I want to talk about today. Our physical life and our spiritual life are very similar. We have choices to make that affect our character, that affect our growth, that affect our potential for eternal life, and to achieve the full potential God has in store for us.
The atmosphere that we were born with does not guarantee failure. It does not have to be where we are going to end up. For example, we may have come from a family of thieves, but we do not have to be a thief. We may have been born to a family that is full of violence, but we do not have to be violent. We could have been born into a family with drug abuse, but we do not have to be a drug addict. Or there could have been alcohol abuse in our family, but we do not have to be an alcoholic. We could have been born into a family that is extremely selfish, but we do not have to stay selfish or be selfish. But character change requires honest self-assessment, hard work, perseverance, and wise choices. With those we could say we have the basics and the essence of repentance. We could sum up this whole process as the process of overcoming.
We can work at overcoming the family we were born into, the genetics, the atmosphere, the habitat, the character more or less. We could have said, I was doomed to this way of life. If I do not have any choice in it, it is not my fault. No, we can accept responsibility for our future. We can take responsibility to change. That is a lot of work. Repentance and overcoming in the Christian life are absolutely essential. It is the only way we can bear fruit. It is the only way we can have a reward because our reward is based upon our works, our growth, and what we have done with our lives.
WILL WE OVERCOME FOR A REWARD
I ask the question this morning: why should you and I want to overcome? We need a good reason to endure the hard work and the effort that repentance and overcoming require.
I mentioned earlier a reward comes from God if we develop holy righteous character and if we grow in His image and likeness. But personal reward is not enough to endure, and I will explain this to you. It is not sufficient to think we can get a reward if we do thus and such. Bad habits are very hard to break. Bad habits are usually something we like. We enjoy them. We get some pleasure from them. We do not like the discomfort of having to change, therefore we hang on to bad habits. We say to ourselves, if I do not get ten cities for instance, I will settle for five. I will settle for one. Or, I will settle for salvation. Sometimes we are like that because we are human. God knows that. He knows that change is hard. We can see in physical life it is exactly that way.
We see smokers who love to keep smoking, even sometimes after they have gotten cancer. We see bitter people who stay bitter. They stay mean. We see angry people who will not give up their anger. We see liars who continue to lie. We see alcoholics who keep on drinking, even though it is heading them toward an early grave. We see cynics who stay cynical. We see gamblers who continue to gamble. The list goes on and on. Personal reward is not always enough. We still want to hang on to those bad habits. They are easy. It is who we are. We can blame our past. We can blame our genetics. We can make all kinds of excuses to not have to change, but that is not enough for God. We need to have a really good reason to change.
There is one commercial that I have noticed in the recent past of a woman who, says I quit smoking because of my children. You get the feeling that this woman could not quit until she had these couple of children. Then she looked at them, and she said, now I have a good reason to give up that bad habit. We need to have more than self-improvement for self-improvement’s sake. As a matter of fact, I am going to go out on a limb here and I can say self-improvement alone often makes us more selfish.
You will see the people who want to stay perfectly fit or have a perfect shape, or have the perfect skin, or whatever way it is they want to look good. They will go to tremendous self-improvement efforts to attain the look that they want, but they can end up becoming extremely selfish doing that. It is like that whether it is athletics, music, your house, or anything else. In essence, you can create an idol through self-improvement, such as having the best house on the block, having the most beautiful car, or whatever the case may be.
OVERCOME FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS
When we start to look at change and the hard work that is required to do it, if the reason is for helping some other people, then we are getting to be like God. Overcoming is really for the benefit of others, much more so than the benefit of ourselves. Then God determines whether we have done well enough to receive a reward. Christ is our example in all of this.
Let’s turn to the gospel of John, chapter 16, verse 31: “Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’”
He was telling the apostles ahead of time, I know you are all going to flee when I am facing My hour of trial. You are going to leave Me in the hands of the enemy, and I am going to suffer. I will not be alone, because I will have My Father with Me. He said, I want you to have peace about this, and I am telling you ahead of time. I want you to have peace because I have overcome the world. He said, indeed you will have your chance to suffer. You will have your tribulation and your trials in life, possibly because of your genetics. He did not say this. I am just interjecting this. Where you were born, how you were raised, or the temptations that will befall you will play a role in your trials, troubles, and tribulation. But He said, have good cheer. I have overcome the world and I will help you! That is the amazing thing.
Christ overcame the world for our benefit. He did not overcome the world for Him to get a greater reward from the Father or to become King of kings and Lord of lords. He did it for us. The rest followed because He did a good job. Christ wanted the apostles to understand this process and to realize early on that they would have missteps, they would have failures, they would do things wrong and make big mistakes. But He said, be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.
The Father gave us Jesus Christ. He gave us His Son for the very purpose of helping us to overcome. Turn back to John chapter 3. This is a very famous set of Scriptures, but I want to put it in this context. John chapter 3, beginning in verse 14: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up…”
He said, I have to be crucified.
Continue in verse 15: “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
I have to go through this so you can have a shot at eternal life, He is telling His disciples.
Verse 16 of John 3: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
This whole process of Christ dying for our sins is to give us that chance at eternal life It gives us that chance to overcome. We overcome because He led a perfect life and then died. He shed His blood, so that we can get back up after we sin and after we do something wrong.
I want to turn to Revelation chapter 12, verse 9: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.’”
We see here Satan is our mortal enemy, but God says, I overcame him. It is by the blood of the Lamb—the blood of Jesus Christ—that we too can overcome Satan. We overcome this enemy who knows our weaknesses. Satan wants to tempt us and wants us not only to be robbed of reward but of eternal life. With this process though, there is a great responsibility. We need to work.
OVERCOMING TAKES EFFORT
Overcoming is more than just accepting the blood of Jesus Christ. Overcoming takes effort. It takes real perseverance. It takes an honest self-assessment, so we know the things that we need to change and work on. I John chapter 2 talks about this.
I John 2, verse 15: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
This is the same world of which Jesus Christ said, “I have overcome the world.” He knew you and I would have to live our lives in this world, and that we would be born into families that were not perfect, and that we would have certain genetic tendencies that would give us weaknesses. He knew we would live in certain areas that would make it hard to be good. But He said, I have overcome the world, and I will help you overcome the world if you do your part. When you slip and fall, My blood is there for you if you ask for forgiveness and if you are truly trying to repent.
As I said, it is not enough to do this for ourselves. That is not enough motivation. We need to be willing to overcome for our brethren, for our families, and for the family of man. We need to do it for others. Pursuing worldly lusts hurts us, but it hurts others around us. It hurts others. It hurts our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, and it hurts the body of Christ.
Let’s take a look at a list of some of the lusts of the flesh by going back to Galatians chapter 5, starting in verse 16: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
He is telling us here that if we walk a certain way, in the lusts of the flesh, on the road we are going down in life and if we just let it happen, we are going to continually be pulled by the lusts of the flesh and the ways of the world.
But in verse 18 he continues to say: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
That is quite a list. I am sure it could be lengthened, but that is plenty to include every one of us somewhere and probably in multiple categories, especially when we think of the way Christ went beyond the letter of the law to the intent of the law. We all fall down in a variety of places here, and God says we have to overcome. The blood of the Lamb is not going to just exonerate us. It wants to see effort to change. We need to stop walking down that road of life and to stop walking in the direction that we were born into and that our genetics predisposed us towards. We cannot make excuses, brethren. We have to face reality and be honest with ourselves.
We have to look at ourselves and say I may have been born into this family, into this town, into this city, and I may have had this bad break in life or that bad break, but at some point in time excuses have to run out. We have to take responsibility. God knows our weaknesses, and He knows Satan is going to tempt us with remembrances from the past and with the things that have gone wrong. That is normal. When we slip and we get angry or we get bitter again or we lust after something that we should not, that is when we need to get on our knees and ask God for forgiveness. That is the purpose of the blood of the Lamb. It is to exonerate us and get us forgiven when we are willing to change and when we are willing to say, yes, I did that wrong. If we are not willing to say we were wrong and that we sinned and if we are not willing to change, there is a point in time where Jesus Christ will say that is not good enough. You are not working with Me. You are not helping Me accomplish something in you.
We have a part to play, and that is the purpose of this sermon. We have a part to play in this whole process. We are not going to do it if we are not honest with ourselves.
There is a saying in the Bible that is not commonly used anymore, but it is that we must crucify the flesh. This means we must take ourselves to task, and we must bury those things in the past that are holding us back. There are those things that are hurting us and hurting others.
We can continue here in Galatians 5, beginning in verse 22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
In other words, we no longer walk down the road we were born into. We walk down the road of conversion. We walk down the road of repentance. We walk down the road of overcoming. If you notice, all of these fruits of the Spirit have to do with outgoing things. It is outgoing love and concern for other people. It is bringing peace when there is strife. It is longsuffering, which is patience, when you want to lose your patience. It is self-control when you want to get angry or you want to imbibe in the lusts of the flesh and you know you should not. It is control of your habits. It is saying, I am sick and tired of the person I am. I want to be something better. I want to gain control over this or that item in my life that is hurting other people as well as myself. That is the crucifying of the flesh. That is putting our passions to death, as it were, and having a new man come in its place. It is somebody more in the image and the likeness of Jesus Christ.
II Corinthians chapter 4, verse 16: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
We are not supposed to regret the fact that our outer man is dying. What people see is dying, and it is literally dying, physically, as we get older and age. We are moving toward the grave, unless Jesus Christ comes back before we die. But we are taking pride in the fact that our inner man is being renewed every day. We are taking joy in the fact that we are growing. This really does take affliction. This takes getting old in a certain way.
By going through life’s suffering and trials, and by looking at the place we started in life, we should say, I do not want to be like that the rest of my life. I want to be better than that. I want to grow. By doing that, we are actually renewing the inner man. We are allowing God to work with us and letting His blood cover our shortcomings. We are letting Him knock the rough edges off and create a person in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. It is a marvelous process. It is us working together with God, but we have to remember, it is us “working.” It is us “doing” something.
Colossians chapter 3 goes along in a similar vein. Colossians 3, verse 1: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are in the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”
We need to focus on the fact that we have shortcomings. God wants to help us get rid of them, but we have to identify them in our own life. We cannot blame something, such as I was born a Scythian. It says in another place in the Bible that they were accused of being gluttons. I can be a glutton. I can drink alcohol to whatever extent I want because I was born that way. No, that does not work.
You have to look at yourself from where you started and be realistic. You might say I started behind the eight ball. Or you could say I started with some bad things in my character or bad traits that were developed by my family or whatever. We have to say from the point that we are converted, I do not want to stay this way. I want to become a better person. I want to become like Jesus Christ. I know that He died for me. He will help me in those times when it is hard to let go of everything I have done wrong. It is hard to let go of those bad habits.
There is an old Spanish proverb that says habits are at first cobwebs and then they are cables. God knows that. Jesus Christ understands full well. He is the High Priest who has been tempted in all points as we. He knows what it is like to be tired at the end of a long work day. He knows what it is like to hurt His body physically, perhaps falling down or hitting his thumb with a hammer. He was a carpenter of sorts and a stone mason. He knows what it was like to get sick, I am sure, and to have the flu. He knew what it was like to be human and to be tempted. Yet He did it without sinning.
Because He lived that perfect life and died for us, He now says, I am going to help you become a person like Me, and I know where you started from. I know exactly where you started from. All I want you to do is say you want Me to help you, and you are willing to work with Me on it. If you are willing to do that, there is a reward at the end of your life when the resurrection occurs. Do not focus on a reward. Do like I did, focus on other people.
It is much easier to change when we are doing it for others. It is easier when we are doing it because we do not want to make them suffer. We want our children to have a better life than we had. We want our grandchildren to do better than we did. We want to have a neighborhood that is better because we live there. These are all choices that we need to make, and we need to make them, brethren, while we still have life and breath within us.
Turn to Ephesians chapter 4. We have to start making the choices that will make a difference for us eternally. Ephesians 4, verse 17: “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
That is the choice before us. Do we want to become a new person, a better person, or do we want to hang on to those habits that we are comfortable with and that we enjoy? They are probably giving a bad example to others which is hurting ourselves and hurting them. We need to change for the body of Christ’s sake.
The body of Christ is enduring very harsh trials right now. There are many Scriptures that we could turn to that we have looked at in the past about the Church being overcome. Instead of overcoming, we have been overcome. Brethren, it is from us not doing the little things. It is from us hanging on to selfishness, bitterness, anger, deceit, lying, and perhaps lusts of the eyes and lusts of the flesh. These are the weaknesses that we are all born with that we are not letting go. God says, I have to finish this project. We have to move on to the Millennium. We have to move on to the innumerable multitude. I am going to allow you to go down for a while. I am going to allow you to suffer, so you can see what your way of life is doing to you and those around you. Perhaps then you will want to change. I am knocking on the door. Anyone who opens the door, I will come in and sup with, as we are told in Revelation 3 to the Laodicean Church. We need to have our blindness lifted and take a good look at ourselves. We need to say we do not want to be this way. We do not want to stay like this.
SET OUR MINDS ON BETTER THINGS
Go back to Colossians once again. Colossians 3, verse 1: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
We read that earlier. We need to set our mind on better things than what we see around us. I personally am getting very frustrated. I like to watch the news. I like to watch current events. I like certain sports, but I am getting to the point where I am fed up with all the junk that surrounds what I really find is interesting. I do not want my mind open to what Satan wants to throw at me through a stupid thing like a television set. I am not going to leave the set turned off or throw it away. There are worthwhile programs, and there are worthwhile things we need to know, but I am not going to spend the rest of my life viewing filth if I do not have to.
Brethren, it is that sort of choice we have whether it is with our computers, our games, our televisions, the books we read, or the activities we partake in. We need to set our mind on the things that are above and not the things that are on the earth. This earth and the way it is organized is passing away. It is not the physical earth that is passing away. We are going to have a Millennium here. But it is the way things have been operating for the last 6000 years. It is the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. It is the big ego that is encouraged. All of these lewd things that are encouraged and lewd and perverse behavior that is encouraged in the modern media are what is passing away. Why do we want to hang on to these things?
It is amazing. You cannot watch a sporting event without a large number of alcohol commercials or commercials with scantily dressed women. Why does that have to go with a good sporting event? There is no good reason except Satan knows that it tempts us. It tempts us to get involved with revelries, drunkenness, and lust. It tempts us to spend money on the products that encourage these behaviors. We are in control of that button on that remote. We are in control here, and we need to do something. That is just one of many examples. We could go on and on with examples of the things we need to change personally.
It is a matter of love for our fellow man, love for the brethren, and love of God. Love trumps everything else. Let’s go to I Corinthians 13. We know that is the Love Chapter. We will not read the whole thing, but let’s read beginning in verse 1 of I Corinthians 13: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
Love is outgoing concern for others. As long as we are developing that outgoing concern for others, we are going to want to change to be the best person we can be and to be most like Jesus Christ. That requires sacrifice, brethren. Love, outgoing concern, and overcoming requires sacrifice. I must sacrifice some of the ways I am in order to become a better person.
We need to look at ourselves and say, I have to sacrifice this way that I am. I have to sacrifice some of the things that I like. I have to sacrifice some of the things that I have. I have to give up and sacrifice some of the things I do, or I am not going to grow and bear fruit. Even though I was born into a set of circumstances, I do not have to keep going down that road and maybe some people of the world would say I am destined to go down. I do not have to keep traveling down that road, especially when as Christians we can look at that road and know there is a crack up at the end of it. We know it is going to end badly. Then we are going to feel very badly on the last day of our lives when we look back at our lives and say I wish I could do it again, but I know I cannot.
We will not feel bad that we lost a reward. It is not for the reward’s sake, although there will be some weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth for that. We are going to feel bad that we did not become enough like Christ and that we wasted an opportunity to do good for our fellow man. We will have wasted an opportunity to do the right thing, and with that comes eternal life. With that comes reward. If we would only sit down now in our lives, take stock of ourselves, and determine in a very firm way that we are not going to accept the road we were born on. Say to ourselves, I will not accept this as my destiny. I will change!
The more we want to be like Christ, the more we are going to be willing to deal with the tough things and grapple with the issues in our life that are holding us back. We are going to curtail our wants and our desires. We are going to bring our bodies and minds into subjection, and we are going to stop making excuses.
Let’s turn to Philippians chapter 2 as our last Scripture. Philippians 2, verse 1: “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
That is the formula, brethren! That is what makes us willing to do the hard things.
Continue in verse 5 of Philippians 2: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Christ did not perform His sacrifice so that He would gain that great name and have all that power. He had it before when He was God. He did it and He humbled Himself for the rest of us, for all of mankind. That needs to be our same project in life. It needs to be our same goal. We need to let go of our old man, and put our passions and lusts to death. Put on a new man, and we do this by examining ourselves. We look at ourselves, and we be honest. Then we determine that we are going to change. We are not going to accept the road that we are on. We are not going to crack up at the end of our life. We are not going to be a waste. We are going to reach success. We are going to bear fruit for God. We are going to help our fellow man in every way we can.
Here at the end of the age, we are going to help our fellow brethren who have been overcome by Satan, as we were, too. We are going to fight for them. We are going to do this to be sacrificial servants of our brethren. That is why we are going to do it. Because of that, it will all turn out for the good for all of mankind.
This is a major undertaking we are on. I think sometimes because of the conveniences of modern life, we can take it just too lackadaisically and not focus on our real problems. We hang on to those habits and faults that we are comfortable with. We think, what does it matter? It is just me and my life. If I do not get as much of a reward as I could have, oh well. But that is not the case, because we are doing this for everyone else.
I hope to do a companion sermon to this and really focus on what the overall Church is going through. But for right now, we need to focus on each of our own lives if we are going to be of any benefit or any help to anybody else. With that, brethren, I would ask that you examine yourself. Look and see the things that you can change and ask Jesus Christ to work in you, because we do not have to accept what could have been our destiny.