Challenged to Change
How Can I Get Close To God If I Am Like I Am?
HOW CAN I GET CLOSE TO GOD IF I AM LIKE I AM?
Video clip transcript extracted from the talk: The Favor and Image of God (2 Corinthians 5:17) by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
It is madness to try to live on a spinning sphere that is flying through space at hundreds of miles an hour and be on your own not knowing who is in control of it. That’s where a lot of our fear comes. We are lonely because we will always be lonely without God. I can be your friend, somebody else can be your friend, and a husband or a wife can be your friend for so long. But finally, we are all lonely because there is only one who really makes us feel at home and that’s the dear one who put us here. So, when you play games with Him and lose the sense of His presence, you become a real lonely person. The situation is like this air around us. If I decide to hold my breath and not breathe, it doesn’t matter what you say about the air being all around me. I will just look at you and my face will get bigger and bigger and I’ll look as if I am going to explode. Then I’ll fall, faint, and eventually die, even though the air is all around me. If I don’t breathe it in, it won’t do me any good.
It’s the same with God. If you fail to perceive His presence and recognize Him and acknowledge Him and be real with him, then you fail to receive the benefit of His life into your life — and that’s where we said many of us are. Many of us feel we are in a “catch-22” situation. We feel yes, that’s right. I do pretend because I am not like Him. I have feelings of lust at times and would be embarrassed to death if He knew about them. He does know about them, but we keep pretending. The pretend game is stupid but we do it. And there are things that I want in my life that I don’t think He wants me to want. And so, I just couldn’t look Him in the eye. I couldn’t look Him in the eye. I don’t see how I can look Him in the eye unless I change. I don’t see what’s going to change me unless He changes me. And how can He change me if I don’t recognize Him? How can I get close to Him if I am like I am? And how come I be other than I am unless I get close to Him?
Of course the amazing gospel is, that God out of the great love He has for you, has taken all the things that you have ever done, all the things that He has noted in His spiritual memory, all the hard things you have said to people, all the dirty things you have thought, all the dishonest things you have done and on the page of His memory, He has torn them up. He has brought you close to Himself out of sheer love. He has done that. But you keep on pretending and evading Him as if He doesn’t know what you are. He not only knows what you are, but He has lifted you up to be beside Himself. At this moment He regards you as being beside Himself. He is treating you as being beside Him and He is willing to give you all that He has. But because you don’t believe that, you erect a barrier against Him just as I do if I don’t breathe.
In other words, you are meant to live in complete confidence in your Father. You are not meant to live like little furtive, evasive children, trying to hide behind the trees of the garden. We are meant to accept what God has done. Now loved ones, you need to look at that, even though we looked it up last Sunday. You need to look at it in Ephesians 2: 4-8 because you need to be able to remind yourself of it. Ephesians 2:4-8: “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.”
That’s what God has done for you, until you die on this earth. Because when you die and you don’t believe it, then you finally make real your disbelief and you make it eternally real. So if you continue to believe that God doesn’t love you, that He hasn’t accepted you, that you are not His child and you live like that, eventually you make that your eternal state. But until that day, God has raised you up and you are sitting beside Him and He thinks of you as a friend and a dear child, He does. And all your running around and hiding and pretending that He doesn’t — is a lie. He thinks of you as His dear friend and His dear child and He has all the resources of His own home and His own heaven to give you. But He can only give them to you when you believe that.
So tomorrow, when you feel anger rising in your heart, you don’t try to repress it by your own power and effort. Instead you look up to God and you say, “Lord God, I know that you crucified me in Jesus. I know that you destroyed me in him and you remade me so that I am new. I know that you destroyed this old self that is expressing this anger. I know that Lord, and I want to thank you for that. Thank you! Don’t do anything else, don’t make a move to grab your handkerchief — don’t. Just thank Him. Because the truth is, you believe yourself to death. You believe yourself clean. You believe yourself changed. That’s it. It’s by faith, and not by effort. It’s by faith.
Loved ones, as you begin to say that, and you begin to believe that, God will make that real in you. You’ll find that Christ begins to rise within you. Loved ones,the verse that you need is in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” And if you are in any doubt that you are in Christ then just look at verse 14 from that same chapter. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.”
All we have to do is believe it. And the moment you believe it, the weight of that great old self rolls off your shoulders and you begin to live a new life. And that’s the father’s plan for us. It can be yours. It’s what has changed my life and has changed many lives. It is possible to live above self and sin because God has changed us in His Son Jesus. So don’t struggle. Don’t struggle — believe it and begin to live it. Let us pray.
Full Sermon: The Favor and Image of God (2 Corinthians 5:17) by Rev. Ernest O’Neill