"On the evening of January 24, 1972, Yokoi was discovered in the jungle. He was found by two local men who were checking their shrimp traps. For twenty-eight years, he hid in an underground jungle cave, fearing to come out of hiding even after finding leaflets declaring that World War II had ended, believing them to be mere allied propaganda. Few have struggled with loneliness, fear, and self for as long as twenty-eight years" -- Wikepedia
Today, 3 steps to victory, one builds upon the other… Last week I introduced the word sanctification, the process of continuously changing, growing, transforming… that’s what this chapter is about. 3 steps to maturity, a continuum. 1. Know something. 2. Reconcile what you know, 3. Yield to the Lord. OR Believe it/Resolve it/Live it.
Some have gotten as far as knowing the gospel. That’s a start, but the truth stays on a shelf as an intellectual proposition….when we hear the polling data of how many people in the U.S. consider themselves Christian, many are at this stage and are not being challenged to deepen their faith. Not interested in changing. We see musicians/actors with bad behavior wearing crosses on their necks. Maybe they believe in the basic facts of Christianity, but at least their public life they don’t appear to have any desire to be a mature Christian.
Others are at the level of trying to reconcile what they know, making sense of it… the reason many people are visible at this step is because they are asking questions, trying to figure out this Christianity thing – what a wonderful place to be in your spiritual life, I love people around me that are asking all the hard questions, trying to reckon their old life and the new life in Christ… it keeps me young…
Others have yielded their life to Christ… a peace, a deep understanding…to live, some questions still, but the matter is settled…
Nobody is better than another, we all seeking to begin today in our spiritual journey where we are, and go forward. … I think of this as a continuum… Consider where you are in your spiritual journey on a scale of 1-10? The value in considering your own place on the journey, is to motivate you to go forward… to continue to be sanctified, “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary”… to grow in the Lord, to let him change you so completely you become that different person we talked about last week, making cows fly is nothing compared to the Lord changing your heart…
- Knowing. Rom. 6:1-7.
What you were…Crucified with Christ, Rom. 6:2. Buried with Christ, Rom. 6:4. Raised with Christ, Rom. 6:4. United with Christ Rom. 6:5.
How many people were crucified at Calvary? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you were there that day. You were crucified with Christ, you were buried with him, you were raised from the dead. The cross of Christ transcends time. Your spiritual history begins at the cross. You died with him. You were buried with him. You were raised from the dead and therefore you are united with Jesus Christ. To know this fact is the beginning of your faith journey.
What are you now? Dead to sin, Rom. 6:2. Freed from sin, Rom. 6:7
To be dead to sin and freed from sin doesn’t mean that you never sin again. It means your life is no longer oriented towards sin, you can still sin, like we said last week, when you sin as a believer it is like wearing clothes two sizes too small, you can squeeze into those pants, but somehow the old wardrobe of your past life no longer feels so comfortable.
What do you have? A brand-new life, Rom 6:4. Resurrection life, Rom. 6:5, 8-10.
“we too may live a new life.” God saved you to give you a brand-new life of a completely different kind. You have something now you never had before: the resurrection life of Jesus within. That’s a fact, not a feeling.
True spirituality begins with a true understanding of what God has done for you. He died on the cross for you, freeing you from sin, and gave you a brand-new life. How do you make this knowledge real on a daily basis?
- Reconciling… (Romans 6:8-11)
In place of “count” or “consider” I’ve used the old word reconcile. Like trying to balance your check book: two months ago I was off by exactly $10, I spent five minutes doing the calculations, checking and rechecking the entries until finally I found the error in a deposit…
Reckoning means to count on the fact that God has actually done what he said he would do. It means to count on the fact that if God said it, he meant it, and therefore he did it. It means to live on the basis of the fact that God wasn’t kidding when he said he would do this, therefore he did it, and therefore you can count on it.
Rom. 6:9 (read)… Everybody by nature is born into the kingdom of Satan and sin. When you say yes to Jesus, you’re transferred from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. Death is no longer the master…You have a new King. a new Master. a new Lord, a new way of looking at things, new boundaries for your life, you’ve been changed …
An amazing thing happened… a Japanese man walked out of the jungle 27 years after WWII ended. He even saw leaflets declaring the end of the war. You know what his problem was: he could not reconcile the truth. Many people have a head knowledge of Christ, but they are still living in the jungle. They saw the leaflets declaring victory, but they don’t apply it to themselves, and remain in hiding. During those 27 years was he free? Yes. At any time from 1945 until 1982, he was completely free to come out of the jungle. But because he didn’t believe it–because he didn’t reckon the fact of his freedom to be true–he lived in self-imposed bondage in the jungle for 27 years. Was he free? Yes. Was he free? No, because he chose to stay in bondage, in hiding, in fear in the jungle. For 27 years he never reconciled the fact that he was free…
3. Yielding… Rom. 6:12-14 (read)
To yield is to turn your entire life over to God. This is the step to find maturity of faith, victory. Step 1: Know! Step 2: Reconcile! Step 3: Yield! Paul says it negatively and positively: “Don’t yield the parts of your body to sin…” and “Yield your body to God” What are the parts of your body? hands, mind, eyes, ears, lips, feet….
What a brilliant way of thinking. To yield the parts of your body to God is comprehensive… He’s very specific about it. “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness/do offer as instruments of righteousness.” The word “instruments” means “weapons.” Don’t offer your the parts of your body as weapons of wickedness but rather yield yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and offer the parts of your body to God as weapons to righteousness.
Each of us, in order to live the victorious life of Christ, the freedom he promises of no longer living in sin, we need to be specific and deliberate about the areas of our life we yield to him. I love the story of the Crusaders that were baptized in a lake in a big group, and as they went down in the water to be baptized, they each held their arm above their heads, clutching their swords, they wanted Christ, they wanted to give their life to Christ and be baptized in his name, but not the fighting arm – what are you holding back from Christ? What area of your life are you not quite ready to yield to the Lord. Yielding is a process. The process of being sanctified, to become more and more like him. Spiritual victory will never be real for you until you make it particular and definite regarding the parts of your body. What do you need to yield to the Lord? Your fighting arm needs to be baptized, too.
Let’s talk about your eyes. Have you been looking at things this week you shouldn’t be looking at? Your ears. Have you been listening to gossip, slander, filthy talk and coarse humor? To yield your ears to God might mean to listen to those who are hurting, struggling, the problems of people… Consider your lips. Have you used your lips this week for swearing, for anger, for bitterness? Your hands? Are your hands yielded to God or do you use your hands to grasp more of this world’s goods? What about your feet? Are your feet yielded to God or are they constantly taking you where you shouldn’t go? What about the most intimate parts of your body? Yielded to God?
Spiritual victory isn’t going to happen until you make it personal. Yield your body to God. In your life, what parts of your body need to be yielded to God? My lips…My eyes…My ears….My mind….My hands….My feet…My heart…My intimate parts
If you want victory, it’s yours… it’s a process. You start with the knowledge of God, then reconcile what you know, and finally, get serious. Yield the particular parts of your body for the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the process of sanctification. Change happens the moment you become a Christian and give your life to Christ, but then you enter the school of Christ and take a life-time to continuously change, to know, reconcile, yield… When your lips become his, your eyes become his, your ears, your hands, your feet, all become his, You’ll be his.
Where are you on this scale towards spiritual victory? Knowing the truth of Christ and what he has done for you is the beginning, reconciling the truths of Christ and how the Christian life fits into your life is a place many have landed, yielding the parts of your body to Christ is to taste victory. You can change, you can transform, you can move towards the victorious life of Christ. Amen.