What is your nature? your primary identity? As a pastor I try hard to think of all people as people first who need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I make it a priority to care less about this church and more about the kingdom… I like seeing good things happen, yet I have to distinguish between my human competitive nature and that which is most important to Christ. Jesus did not come to fill up the pews of SACC, he came to gather his kingdom. I like this little story told by Chuck Colson as a reminder of a healthy perspective of what’s important, how we think of ourselves….
One week, the Bible lesson was about Jesus washing His disciples' feet, from John 13. To make the servant hood lesson stick, Pastor Stone divided the kids into groups and told them to go out and find a practical way to be servants. "I want you to be Jesus in the city for the next two hours," he said. "If Jesus were here, what would He do? Figure out how He would help people." Two hours later the kids reconvened in Pastor Stones' living room to report what they had done.
One group had done two hours of yard work for an elderly man. Another group bought ice-cream treats and delivered them to several widows in the church….when the fifth group stood up and reported what they had done, everyone groaned. This group had made its way to none other than their archrival, Shively Baptist, where they had asked the pastor if he knew someone who needed help. The pastor sent them to the home of an elderly woman who needed yard work done. There, for two hours, the mowed grass, raked the yard and trimmed hedges. When they were getting ready to leave, the woman called the group together and thanked them for their hard work. "I don't know how I could get along without you," she told them. "You kids at Shively Baptist are always coming to my rescue."
"Shively Baptist!" interrupted pastor stone. "I sure hope you set her straight and told her you were from Shively Christian church." "Why no, we didn't," the kids said. "We didn't think it mattered."
“We didn’t think it mattered…” what a great attitude … The things of God are more important than the things of the flesh.
Through-out Romans 8 and back into Romans 7, the spirit is at war with the flesh. Who is your greatest enemy? You are. I am my own worst enemy. The war within is the first and last battle that must be fought in order to gain victory over the sin-nature and live for Christ, to run with the wind in the freedom of Christ. To gain victory over the flesh and live in the spirit is freedom, supernatural joy, peace within… “I do not have a soul. I am a soul. I have a body.” That puts into perspective my true nature.
Understanding your true nature as a spiritual being is vital, the Bible goes so far as to say we have an obligation… an incredibly strong word. We are obligated, not to the flesh, but to the Spirit. To lay aside the values and the things of this earth, and to focus on the things of Christ. What’s most important? READ Rom. 8:12-13…
We owe nothing to our sinful nature. What priority would you say the world wants you to have? /// Consider tv commercials. Raise your hand if you can finish this jingle: “two all beef patties…” From what company do we get the phrase, “Double Your Pleasure” [DoubleMint Gum]… “I’d like to buy the world a ________.” Newsflash: Commercials are not marketing towards your spiritual health,// but your earthly desires. Indulgence. Pampering. You deserve it. Comfort. Leisure. Pleasure. Feeling good. Don’t tell me commercials don’t impact us. The desire for more, bigger, better, tastier, more satisfiying… One person said, “The principles of the Spirit do not find their way into television commercials.” Giving to others, simple living, contentment are not lessons from commercials. Commercials want you to be discontent, they promote extravagance and self-indulgence.
We don’t owe anything to the flesh because we’ve been set free from the power of the flesh. We are no longer “in the flesh” but “in the Spirit.” The flesh once controlled us, but now we are free, free to run with the wind.
Your spiritual health is vastly more important than the health of your body. I see people that are at their best as their body deteriorates, because God becomes so incredibly profound and they figure out what is most important. You want a name? Ken Roberts… You want another name? Don Nielsen. Why do you think Shirley is so happy? Because when her husband died she saw him at his best: his body was as good as gone, yet his spirit was alive in Christ…. The obligation is to the Spirit….that’s life, that’s abundance, that’s what’s most important.
Romans 8:14-17 lists five ways we are transformed when we embrace the spirit of God in us, or as Rom. 8:14 describes the new identity: “Sons of God.” You are now a Child of God. You are no longer in the flesh; you are now in the Spirit. You no longer live according to the world; you now live according to God’s Word. To accept Christ, your life has experienced the greatest change that could ever be. Once you served Satan, now you serve God. Once you walked in darkness, now you walk in the light. Once you followed your own desires, now you live to please God.
The one obligation is to accept Christ in you, and the result is Five Amazing privileges to be identified as a Child of God. When I was a child, one of the huge impacts on my life was the pre-school teacher, Edith Renses. The class for small children was called King’s Jewel’s [?]. The theme song: When He Cometh: one of the verses and chorus: Little children, little children/Who love their Redeemer/ Are the jewels, precious jewels/ His loved and His own./ Like the stars of the morning,/His brightness adorning,/They shall shine in their beauty/Bright gems for His crown.That’s just my memory, my point is that you are privileged to see yourself as loved by God above any other identity you can possibly imagine. More important than even the love of earthly parents, to be valued like a precious gem by God, a bright gem for his crown.
As a child of God, five amazing privileges:
1. Personal Guidance of the Holy Spirit. READ Rom 8:14
To be “led” by the Spirit is a very personal term. It means to be led by the hand, to be personally escorted by a tour guide. The Holy Spirit takes your hand and leads you through the difficulties of life. So many Christians say, “I don’t know how I could make it without the Lord.” When you are perplexed, you have the right to say, “Holy Spirit, please show me what to do.” “Holy Spirit, I am confused. I don’t know which way to go. I’m counting on you to lead me.” He will do it.
2. Freedom From Fear. Rom. 8:15a Kim posted on Facebook: “The phrase ‘Do not be afraid’ is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless.”
Living by fear is common. Joseph Stalin is an extreme example: Joseph Stalin should have been fearless. Instead, this infamous Russian premier was afraid to go to bed. He had seven different bedrooms. Each could be locked as tightly as a safe. In order to foil any would-be assassins, he slept in a different one each night. Five chauffeur-driven limousines transported him wherever he went, each with curtains closed so no one would know which contained Stalin. So deep-seated were his apprehensions that he employed a servant whose sole task was to monitor and protect his tea bags. Stalin; Ian Grey.
Fear of change, fear of not changing, fear of failure, the promise of God is that you can live fearlessly. No more slavery, no more bondage, no more abject fear, no more living in terror. All of that is gone because we have received the “Spirit of sonship.” I like the way one person said it, “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child.”
3. The Right to Call God “Father” Romans 8:15b
God’s children call him “Abba"—a term of endearment. It means “Daddy.” I got a phone call yesterday, “Guess what Daddy, I’m getting married.” Because we are God’s children, we can speak to God the same way children speak to their earthly fathers. You have the official right to be a Child of God. This is truly good news. You don’t have to scream at God to get his attention. You simply say, “Daddy,” and he hears your voice. A story:
A man from Mississippi: “I loved to hunt and took every opportunity to do so. One day, our 5 year old begged and begged me to take him hunting. Finally, I acquiesced. Now every sane person knows that no one takes a 5 year old hunting. But we did go into the woods together. He had his little stick rifle and I, just in case something was dumb enough to show up, carried my shot gun.
We walked a long, long way that day. Toward the end of our "hunt" we had to go up a very steep hill. About half way up I looked down and saw that my little boy was huffing and puffing. I asked him, "Jimmy, are you tired?" To which he quickly answered, "No, Daddy, but my feet are!"
I smiled, reached down, picked him up and carried him to the top of the hill.
There are times when a believer is suffering terribly. Sometimes, I think our Heavenly Father looks down and asks, "Child, are you tired?" To which the answer may come, "No, Abba, but my body is." The Heavenly Father, the perfect Abba, simply reaches down and carries us to the "top of the hill" and that hill is the biggest hill I know of: Mount Calvary.”
4. Inward Assurance Rom. 8:16
You have the right as a child of God to have an inner assurance that you are loved by God and saved by the blood of Christ. /that the Holy Spirit will give you inner assurance. This is the “peace that passes all understanding.” Is that important? Yes. One person compared it to the passengers in an airport that have a ticket in hand vs. those that are on standby. When you have the assurance of a flight, you are rested, relaxed, when you are on standby, you are nervous, uncertain, tired, wondering what the future holds… Assurance is important because Satan would like nothing better than to pull you down by causing you to doubt your own salvation. He accuses you and makes you think you aren’t really born again. “You sorry so-and-so. You go to that church and call yourself a Christian. Yet look at how you live. Look at your decisions. Nobody can be sure. You’re nothing but a fake. You’re lousy, you’re no good, you’re rotten.” And the Holy Spirit comes along and says, “You’re not perfect, but you are a Son of God. Jesus paid for all your sins. You are a child of God.” When the devil whispers in your ear, the Holy Spirit speaks up from deep within your heart to testify that you are indeed a child of God.
5. Right of Heirship in God’s Family Rom. 8:17
You are an “heir” of God. A position of privilege. We all understand what heirship means in human terms. My will specifies my children are my heirs. It specifies that after my death my sons will inherit all that I own. Why? Because I want to ensure that what I have worked for will be passed on to the members of my family. God feels the same way. He wants the riches of heaven to go to the members of his family. When you trust Christ, he writes you into his will, so to speak. Not that God will ever die—He won’t!—but you are included in God’s family fortune because as a child of God you now share in the family wealth, which includes the riches of the heavenlies.
The Spirit is at war with your flesh. Your obligation is to live by the Spirit And that gives you fantastic privileges. Live with the rights that are yours as a child of God, no longer emphasizing the earthly values, earthly priorities. You how have the right of being guided by the Holy Spirit, living fearlessly, the right to call God daddy, live with an inner assurance/confidence, and the right as an heir of everything God has is yours. Run with the Wind as a child of God, and all the rights that go with it. Amen.