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How to Live

How to Live

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

How should we live this life? I don’t know what your favorite songs are. It’s very difficult for a European to like American country music but I like one song which I suppose as a pastor, I am not supposed to like. That song is called ‘Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine’. I don’t know about the watermelon wine because I haven’t tasted it but old dogs and children are two of the lovely things that we have in our world, that God has given us to show a little of his own heart.

I am better on old dogs but when you see a little baby with tiny little fingers, you are just amazed at those little fingers. You cannot believe that anything so tiny and so dear and tender could exist. Our dear God who has made us, has given us little babies like that to say to us, “I made that. I made the tiny little fingers. If you like that, you will surely like me.” That’s why he gave us little things like that.

I am better on the little dogs because I had a little Yorkshire terrier and I didn’t have a baby. When you see a little Yorkshire terrier lying on his back, just dying to be tickled, you suddenly realize God made that little thing and the only reason He made it was to say to us, “Look, I am dearer than that. If you have enjoyed yourself with that little dog, that little dog has only a tiny bit of me in it. If you saw all of that in me, you’d love me.”

That’s why loved ones, God has given us all these things. These are lovely flowers but they are nothing compared with him. The fragrance that you get from flowers when you smell them in the springtime, they are nothing compared with the fragrance of Him, Himself. That’s what we’ve been saying. All this world around us is here to express what God Himself is like, because he is hoping with all his heart that you will see that all these things are just things. They’re all going to go and they’re all going to disappear and they’re all a very poor expression of what He Himself is like and that you would love him if you got to know him and that we are meant to get to know him.

We are meant to have a personal oneness with him and we’re meant to enjoy him. In fact, here is the truth, what we need is not just food. You know that in your own experience. You have had food and then you have had food. Psychologists tell us that food we bolt down (eat fast) when someone throws it in front of us, keeps the blood flowing but it doesn’t do half the good of something your mom lovingly made you and sets before you tenderly and with care. That food does something else for you.

It’s true for most of the experiences we’ve had in this life. You have ridden a bike, a motorbike, and then you have ridden THE motorbike. You have driven a car and then you’ve driven THE car. You’ve gone out with a person and then you’ve gone out with A PERSON. In other words, all those experiences give you a lot more invisibly if they’re right, than just the particular thrill you get from them on the surface. It really does seem, that in this life, there are things that you get from people, things and the world itself and then there’s a deeper something you get from them.

Of course what we’ve been saying is that’s actually what we need. We need that deeper something. The world here of things and people around us is only the surface thing that we need. Really, it’s all here to reveal to us our dear Father, our Creator and that what we need most of all is him and his friendship.

I know it’s popular in our day to say, “Oh, we need people, we need people, we need people”. You can be so easily accused of being unloving if you say, “No, I don’t need anybody.” Then you get into the other end with Frank Sinatra “doing it his way”. You want to steer clear from that and yet, you feel there’s something a little unbalanced in the way we go over to this people thing. What our dear Father says is, “Every dear heart that you know, every dear friend that you have, every dear husband that you have, every dear colleague that you have, they just show a little of what I am. They are only dear to you because of what of ME is in them. What you need most of all is Me, Myself. That’s why I have given you all these things.”

We are like the little boy in a story I made up years ago. His dad loves his son with all his heart and wants him to have a great Christmas – the best he has ever had. He knows his son wants a bike and so he goes out and buys him just the right one. On Christmas he gives him the bike and his son’s eyes light up. He is just delighted. Without a word to the dad he jumps on the bike and rides out. He doesn’t come back the whole of Christmas day.

The dad sits at home wondering, “Now what did I achieve here? I gave this bike to show him how much I loved him and how much I wanted us to have a good Christmas together. He is preoccupied with the gift and has forgotten me completely. The whole purpose of my gift has been frustrated.”

Now, loved ones that’s really what we’re saying. That’s what has happened with us human beings. We’ve got all preoccupied with these gifts. In fact, it’s even worse than that because most of us for years now have pretty well learned to get along without the Giver. You know we do. I don’t want to be offensive to you but you know how often you think of The Giver everyday. You know how preoccupied we are all the time with money or whether the car will start or with what somebody thinks of us or with where we’re going to get our next dollar from. We are.

We’re preoccupied with things and we’re preoccupied with each other. We’re preoccupied with people or we’re preoccupied with whether it’s a nice day or whether we’re going to enjoy ourselves this afternoon. But when you honestly think of it, you don’t think very much of your Creator. You think of problems like how can he know everything and yet not make us do things? How can a kind God let this kind of thing happen?

We think all kinds of high intellectual thoughts where we’re trying to dissect and analyze him. But we don’t often think of God in a loving, kind, trusting way except when all the other systems break down and we have nowhere to go. When a person dies, when the circumstances end up in disaster, or we lose the job, then of course we do turn to him.

It’s sweet at that time because something real comes into your life. Many of us have had the most realistic times at the time of the death of a mom or a dad or a dear one. For that moment, the whole artificial life-support system falls away and we see it’s useless. We turn to the real source of life and we go smoothly for a while. But it lasts a day or two days or a week and then you’re back on to the artificial life-support system of this world.

What we have been saying over the past few weeks is that this has actually had an effect on our own personalities. It has perverted them. It’s actually perverted our personalities. We have been going this way, (Rev. O’Neill points to a diagram) not only during your lifetime. Your dad was going this way, your mom was going this way, your great grandfather was going this way, your great great grandparents were going this way, your great great….right back to Adam. We have centuries of

inbreeding so that we human beings don’t any longer have the personality that God gave us. It doesn’t even operate the way he meant it to operate.

We have developed within us a deviate kind of strain of humanity whose personality is utterly enslaved to the things we depend upon. It’s all so self-evident. You know it fine well. You determine that you will no longer suffer the resentment and the pain and the anxiety that you suffered last week. You were preoccupied with what people were saying about you in the office. They talked about you, and they criticized you. You had some sleepless nights and then you determined over the weekend, “I am not going to live under the fear of man. I am not going to live dominated by what other people think of me. I am not going to be spoiled by their criticism.”

You then try it and you know the struggle. It’s as if you are opposing reality. You’re actually not opposing reality. You’re opposing unreality. But unreality has become so real in our fallen world that it seems like a rock that you cannot move. You go to bed at night and you think I am not going to think of what they’re saying. I am not. Then you go to the office next day and you think, “Whether he smiles at me or not, I don’t care. Whether she criticizes me or not, I don’t care. I will be balanced and I will act from a heart of peace.” You know the battle you have.

You just have to cry out, “The good that I would, I cannot do.” And if that’s real to some of us here, you know the business of the money and the finances and the security. You know how real that is. We determine, no, God is my Father. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I know that He is able to keep me and keep me secure even if I lose my job. He is able to keep me.

Even if the social security system fails completely, I know God is God and I know He is able to keep me. It doesn’t matter how low the bank balance goes, I will sleep well. I will rest in peace. Then the bank statement comes and you see the balance and it’s like something grips you that you cannot control. It’s like something outside you. It’s as if your whole personality keeps operating the wrong way.

It’s as if you inside, say, “I depend on you Lord.” But your whole being is saying, “I depend on you world. I depend on you things. I depend on you job. I depend on you circumstances.” That’s the situation most of us find ourselves in. It’s not that any of us don’t want to do good. It seems we all want to live right. We all want to live the right way and there’s something inside that witnesses that is the right way to live. But when we try to live that way, it seems impossible. Some of us say, “The fates are against me, the whole universe is operating against me.” We feel our whole nature is operating against us. And actually that is dead right.

That is true and you’re exactly right. We’ll always cry that cry if that’s the only nature that we have. “The good that I would I cannot do and the evil I hate is the very thing I do.” That’s the only cry we can cry. We’ve put it in diagrammatic terms. Diagrams are nothing but symbols. They’re nothing. But we put it this way. (Rev. O’Neill draws a small circle) Think of it as us being made by God in His image. We’ve been made like him with a spirit. That’s the inside part of us. That’s the real person. That’s the real you. That’s the place of quietness inside you that is really you. I don’t want to bore you with it but it is that phrase, “What a man is when he is alone that he is, nothing more.”

It’s hard to get quiet nowadays, but when you’re sitting quiet for some reason, what you really are is what you are there, un-driven. Un-driven by your ambition, un-driven by what you have to do tomorrow or what you have to do today, un-driven by the tyranny of the urgent, when you are just

yourself, that’s your spirit in there. That’s what that is.

Then, God put around us a soul. (Rev O’Neill draws a second circle around the first one). We’ll talk about in the future but the soul is the “pseuche” in Greek or the psyche, which becomes psychological in English. It’s the psychological part of us. It contains our mind, emotions and the will. Around that is our body. (Rev O’Neill draws a third circle around the second one). God’s plan was that we would live dependent on his love. I have tried to explain what depending on His love is. So many of us have the idea “Oh yes, it’s a concept I have of God’s love.” Well it’s not.

Depending on God’s love means living everyday trusting him and resting in him. That’s what it means. It means resting in him everyday. It means when the car won’t start, the mind doesn’t immediately react, “I am late for work, how will I get this fixed? What will I be able to do? This and this will follow and then this will follow.” Instead there rises from the heart, “Father, thank you that you knew this was going to happen. Lord, I know that you have an answer to this. I ask you just to show me.”

It’s a place of rest, not something that you have to impose on yourself. You hear me say that and you say, “Oh I must remember that. That’s a good thing to do. The next time I am caught on the freeway in driving rain, that’s what I’ll do.” Then you try to do that, and you can’t do it because the personality is trained the other way. It’s trained to be worried about the snow, be worried about what people are thinking of you, be worried about what you’re going to do.

Now, the Father’s plan was that we would live by his love. Really, his love is what gives us all we need. We’ve said that often when somebody really loves you, it helps you a lot. When somebody really thinks the world of you, it doesn’t matter too much what everybody else says about you. You think (of that one person who is important to you), “They do think the world of me.” That gives you a great sense of worth and self-esteem and all those things that they say we need.

Then if you have somebody that really loves you, that will stand by you through thick and thin, that will never leave you and will do whatever is needed to protect you, there’s a great sense of security. I can only liken it to our dads and moms. We felt that they loved us. They seemed to run the universe. They seemed to know everything about everything and so there was a great sense of security that we felt. We weren’t worrying about our food or about our clothing.

Then of course there’s just happiness in a real love relationship that transcends everything else, including all the gifts that you give to each other. That’s what the Father wanted us to experience. We said that his love gives us security, a sense of significance or worth and gives us great happiness because there’s nothing like walking through the world with the Owner of the world beside you to make you happy. The Father’s plan was that we would operate that way, from the inside out. (Rev O’Neill draws an arrow from the inside circle of the diagram to the outside circle).

We go into a room full of people and we would have such consciousness that our Father had numbered the hairs of our heads (which nobody else has taken the trouble to do) and that he loves us so personally and knows our name that we would have a whole sense of stability, a whole sense of security. We wouldn’t be all conscious of what everybody else was thinking of us.

I don’t know if you know the secret to be a good manikin, or a good model. In Paris, when Christian Dior or some other designer is putting on one of their exhibitions the models have to walk down one of those long ramps. You wonder how they can walk in those high heels, with everybody looking at

them. How do they do it without feeling self-conscious? One girl said, “I just set my eyes on something in the room, or someone in the room. I just look at that person. I am preoccupied with that person or that object and I don’t see anybody else. And so, I am not looking at myself. I am not looking at the other people looking at me. I am looking at this thing.”

That’s it. When you have a preoccupation with your Father and a consciousness of his love and his care and his sense of importance that he gives you, then you walk into a room and you’re stable inside. You exude an atmosphere of composure, self-acceptance, modesty and yet settlement in your being. That imparts itself to other people and gives to them a sense of that from within.

Then, when you get a room full of people who have that sense of value and worth from within, independent of what everybody else is thinking of them, then suddenly you have order and organization in that room. Where if you go into the room and you have none of that inside, you wonder, “What does she think of me? She smiled at me, good; I’ll talk to her. Or he seems like my kind of person, I’ll talk to him.” Everybody is doing that.

What you have got is a bunch of neurotics which is what the world is filled with — five billion neurotics. All of them are looking with their little eyes to see what everybody else is thinking of them and to see if everybody approves of them. They’re all like little puppies wagging their tails and wanting more cookies. And so, we’re all running out of cookies because we want cookies and they want cookies from us. We are just cookie monsters.

The whole universe is filled with five billion cookie monsters who are more and more neurotic every time they get together. That’s true isn’t it? The more we get together in cities, the more of us there are together, the more neurotic we are. That’s why in the rural areas sometimes there’s a little less neuroticism because there are less of us. But God’s will is that we would love from within and not live from without. That’s really the way he intended us to live, living from within, from our spirits. Getting a sense of security from his love, a sense of significance from his love, a sense of happiness and then that would express itself out through our souls and then out through our bodies to other people. It (love) would actually fill the world.

You should look at that commission which is the basis of a true theology of work — which we should talk about some day. It’s in Genesis 1:28. “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.’” Fill it. The Lord meant us to fill the earth with a sense of value that we had from him, to fill the earth with the sense of security that we had from him. That was his will — that we would fill the earth, not that we would empty it. His will wasn’t that we would suck it dry of all the affection we could get from it, but that we would fill it.

Actually you know that yourself. You know that those dear men and women that have made difference to our world are people that bewilder us because it seems they have little and yet they’re always giving. It seems they filled the earth with so much beauty and yet they themselves seem to have so little. Actually what you need is this fullness in your spirit. That’s what produces fullness. That is an amazing power to transform even the material resources of the world. If you think for a moment of ones like Howard Hughes, even though they had a mass of material resources they have not filled the earth half as much as a Mother Teresa. It’s amazing.

So here’s one with nothing and one with everything but one fills the earth because it’s God’s spirit and life that acts upon the material resources of the universe and makes it work. Your cash flow can work about twelve or fifteen different ways if you have a good computer. Even an ordinary

intelligent person can give you about twelve or fifteen different ways in which your cash flow would work. But, the amazing thing is that even after they are bewildered, God has a power of spirit running through all the people that owe you money and all the people you owe money and all the things that are happening to you that can make the whole thing work even when we can’t understand why it did work.

So, God intends us to lead from within. We haven’t done that. We decided not to eat of the tree of life. That’s what the tree of life is. It’s the Holy Spirit. Really it’s Jesus. It’s our dependence on Jesus. We didn’t do that. We ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It has nothing to do with an apple or arguments over fruit trees. It’s God’s way of setting before mankind in his childhood; “You depend on me and trust me and I will show you where the oil is. I’ll show you where the coal is. I’ll show you what you’ve to do in your life and what job I’ve put you here to do. Or you can live by your own knowledge of good and evil. You can decide this is good and this is evil on your own.” That’s what we decided to do. We decided we’ll do without God. We’ll take this world, which seems so attractive to us.

The interesting thing is the only reason the world was attractive was because of what of God there was in it. We were deceived by the spirit of Satan that God allowed to exist. We decided it (the world) has everything we need. And so we began to turn to this world and depend on it. It’s the world of people and the world of things and the world of circumstances. We determined that we would begin to get from things, the security that we now lack because we had turned away from that intuitive sense of our Father.

Now, loved ones it’s really important for you to see that. It’s not that you refuse to believe in God. I know you believe in God. Probably most of us in this room believe in God. It’s not a question that we turned away from believing in God. Romans says that. Maybe you should look at it. Sometimes we think, “Oh you mean we’re atheist?” No, we’re not atheist in the normal sense. It’s in Romans 1:19.

Romans 1:19-20 – “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” But here’s what we did, and you see it in verse 21.

“For although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.” It isn’t that we don’t believe in God, it’s that we don’t depend on God day-by-day, moment-by-moment for these things. We depend on making sure we have the right furniture in our house, in making sure we have the right stocks and shares in our portfolio.

One sister came up to me after last Sunday service and said, “Well, what should Christians do with their investments?” We should invest, that’s not the issue. The issue is are you depending on your investments for your security? That’s what most of us are doing. We think we’re subtle about it. Do you believe God? “Oh yes, I trust the Lord. He has really blessed me and given me all this and this and this.” But we know fine well that we trust our securities and our stocks and our shares plus God. We trust the things that we have, plus God. That’s the wrong way around.

Do we trust God implicitly that He is able to support us when the job is gone, when the stock market has crashed, when our house has gone, when everything is gone? Do we believe that finally the Lord is actually able to support us as He supports the world with no visible means of support at all? That’s it, and of course what we have done is, we’ve started to trust the things for our significance and our sense of importance.

You know how many books are written on self-esteem and self-worth. You know how many people are making pots of money out of those books. We’re all reading them voraciously because we have one problem: self-worth. Of course the rest of the world smiles when America says that. The rest of the world sees us as a nation of millionaires compared with them. It is ironic that the nation that has more millionaires then everybody else in the world is the nation that is most troubled with self-worth. That’s because we try to establish our worth through the opinions of other people and we can never get enough.

So loved ones, that’s why we have begun to find it impossible to live the way we should. You see what has happened. (Rev. O’Neill shows a diagram) Our natures were meant to work that way from God down or inside out to the world. In fact we have turned to the love of the world and have begun to live the other way. You know what we said has happened. Our spirits have really died. The spirit has died. You have real trouble finding yourself now, don’t you?

That’s why so many of us have trouble. What will we do? What will we do with our lives? What job will we do? What should I do? That’s why we have trouble with guidance. We’ve actually lost a sense of who we are. We really have very little clue because we’re living preoccupied with the world of things and people and circumstances. We’re just little souls in bodies. Somebody smiles at us here, our body perceives that with our eyes or hears it with our ears, that goes into our emotions, makes our emotions temporarily joyful and then we pop right back out and we smile at them.

It’s a purely mind-body thing. You smile at me and I smile at you. We really know fine well that we’re just pleasing each other. We don’t really think a lot of each other, we are just glad that the other person has given us approval so we give them approval. We live just a little soul-body experience. That’s why we’re so dissatisfied with our lives. That’s why when that artificial self-support system fails; we’re in real trouble because we then try to go deeper. We try to go back to the root of our being to God and we’re unable to, because we’ve got used to going this way and there is deadness when we come to our spirits. Of course that was the situation all through the Old Testament.

There was no change in that and that’s why God did what He did in the Old Testament. He knew you men and women need to see this. You need to see what you’ve done. You need to see what has happened to you. He said, “You want the knowledge of good and evil? All right. I can only give you what you want. I’ll give you a knowledge of good and evil”, and He brought forth the law.

But there was actually one purpose for the law and it might be good to look at it, it’s in Romans 5:20. “Law came in, to increase the trespass.” Of course the Jews did not think that. They thought, “Good, we’ll abide by that knowledge of good and evil. We’ll obey the law.” That wasn’t why God gave the law. He knew you couldn’t obey it because He knew our natures had become fallen. We had sinful natures and carnal natures that could not live the way we’re meant to. So He gave us the law to increase the trespass and that’s the struggle you see in the Old Testament.

People are trying to obey the law with a nature that cannot obey the law. Yet they in their pride

are trying even to abide by that divine knowledge of good and evil. Of course the only thing that could be done was to replace this sinful nature and that is of course what Calvary is about. In fact the Bible says, “We know that our old self”, this is the old self you see. (Pointing to a diagram). The old self is that one there, the self that lives off the world, off circumstances and people and things. That’s the old self. The only reason for keeping that one there is to highlight that there’s a conflict that develops in our lives. There’s still a conscience inside that says we ought to operate the other way but the old self is operating that way (showing the diagram) and so the Lord crucified that old self in Jesus.

You remember we shared that that happened even before the creation of the world. The lamb was slain from before the foundation of the world and it happened because God was able to foresee what you and I would do. He was able to perceive what we would become and he provided for that even before He put us on this earth. So that old nature has been crucified in Christ. But all through the Old Testament, God was bent not on revealing that to man but simply in showing them the impossibility of obeying Him with that old nature. All through Old Testament days that was so. But because the lamb had been slain from before the foundation of the world and because God therefore had provided an antidote, He lovingly forgave men their trespasses and their sins even in Old Testament times.

He did it because of his great work that he had done on the Cross in Christ. Yet he was not able to reveal that until the time was right. So, all through Old Testament days, he simply forgave men because they didn’t know anything more. They just knew some great work has been done in eternity that enables God to forgive us our sins. They didn’t know what it was but they knew that God had forgiven them.

Actually the Bible talks about covering sins. In the Old Testament, it talks about covering sins. It doesn’t talk actually about doing away with sins. Except for a few outstanding people like David and some of the prophets, whom God gave to the world to show the way we were originally meant to live, it talks about covering sins. God covered their sins.

In fact, you remember there’s one interesting point in the Acts of the Apostles where one of the apostles says, “In the times of ignorance, God winked at sin.” He winked at sin. He turned a blind eye to it because the real work that He had done in Christ on Calvary had not been revealed. The days of the Old Testament are days of the forgiveness of sins. It’s remarkable that you see it in Psalm 103. We read this some Sundays ago and for many of us it seems to be a New Testament Gospel. But that’s just because we don’t understand what the New Testament Gospel is.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.” Because of what He had done on Calvary, God lovingly forgave men their sins so that if you turn over the page you see it in verse 10.

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, (You see He should wipe us out for our sins) nor requite us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

So God treated men and women in the Old Testament as if they hadn’t sinned even though He had not yet revealed to them what they needed. They needed most of all that old nature wiped out and destroyed, so that they could live again the way He had intended them to love – not just the

forgiveness of their sins.

That was all right for Old Testament days. But you know the tragedy of our present Gospel. Because you know what our present Gospel is. It’s an Old Testament Gospel. It’s forgiveness of sins, and that’s it. I mean our earth is filled with that Gospel. Our sins are forgiven. Our sins are forgiven. Any good Jew can tell you that the Jews have had that Gospel for thousands of years.

We know our sins are forgiven. It’s interesting all of us say the same. We say, “Yes, but how do I overcome sin in this life? That’s my problem. I am grateful that God has forgiven me my sins but what is spoiling my home and my family and what is spoiling my witness to other people is, I can’t overcome sin in this life. This sinful nature of mine prevents me from obeying God.”

So, in a way that bumper sticker has become an offense against Christ’s church. It’s the one that says, “Christians aren’t perfect they’re only forgiven.” That’s okay if you’re a Christian but it’s hard if you’re living with a Christian who isn’t perfect. And most of the world’s response to that message is, “I wish you happy souls were perfect. It would make you a lot easier to live with.” We are telling people our sins are forgiven, we’re not perfect, so you have to forgive us. But loved ones, let me share the truth with you. Often an out and out sinner lives better than so-called Christians. They aren’t Christians. They are actually Old Testament Jews.

But often, the old sinful world lives better than we do. I’ll tell you why. They’re afraid that there might be a God. They’re afraid there might be a judgment day and maybe they’d better watch it. Whereas so many so-called Christians today, live absolutely confident whatever they do in this life, they’ll be forgiven — so who cares. It doesn’t matter too much if I pay my debts. After all God has forgiven us everything.

Do you see where it comes from? It comes from the fact that the Gospel that we preach is not the Gospel. The Gospel is this: our dear Savior took into Himself your miserable preoccupation with people. He took my dependence on money and security. He took your dependence on good circumstances for your happiness and He bore that whole nature of yours to death and destruction in His own body on the tree from before the foundation of the world. That is done and that nature of yours that seems so impossible has already been destroyed in Jesus and the moment you’re willing to let go of it and to exercise faith that that has happened, that moment you are born free. You’re born free!

Yes, it’s like being born again. The old has passed away and the new has come. Suddenly you’re able to live depending on the Father day-by-day and moment-by-moment trusting Him for all that you need, trusting Him for your own security, trusting Him for what you need in the sense of self-worth and self-value. It’s like a new world. That’s why a real conversion experience seems so high. It seems the birds are singing more sweetly, it seems the sun is shining more brightly. You glimpse some of that, don’t you? It echoes in your heart. Some of you had it at the beginning.

If you say to me, “Well, wait a minute. Do you mean none of us are born of God? When we hear that truncated Gospel — that because of Jesus’ death God has forgiven us our sins — the Lord graciously sends His Spirit to regenerate our spirits and to give us a feel so that at the beginning we feel what it’s like. But you know how it goes. Soon after, maybe a week, two weeks, maybe three weeks, you begin to find that the sinful nature is overcoming you and you’re unable to live the way you were at the beginning. The Baptist Church says that the life of an effective Christian is three years at the most.

The fact is it’s because you’ve believed the Old Testament Gospel instead of the New Testament Gospel. Our world is filled with dear people like ourselves who believe like the Jews believed for thousands of years that our sins are forgiven. Then we’re given the instruction – “now you have to live like God”. And poor little souls that we are, we try to start living like God. Except that we come up against the sinful nature. Then somebody reads this in Romans 7, “The good that I would, I cannot do”, and says that’s the normal Christian life. And so we say, “Okay, we’ll keep on.”

It’s not the normal Christian life. It’s the life of an old Jew living under the law trying to obey the law without believing in that miraculous work that was done on Calvary that is outlined so clearly in Romans 6. Loved ones, that’s the Gospel. Your sinful nature, your carnal nature has been crucified with Christ and you are able to enter into that. That’s all the information I had, and you don’t need more if you really want to be free – if you really want to be a Christian rather than an Old Testament Jewish convert.

If you really want to know the deliverance that God sent Jesus to bring us from the power of our sinful natures, then loved ones, do read and begin to meditate on Romans 6. See that it is gloriously possible to live the way God meant us to live — from the inside out. Let us pray.

Dear Father, we thank you for this dear word that is so clear and so plain. We thank You Father most of all for our Savior Jesus. And we thank You Lord Jesus for taking every bit of us — these hands that so readily go to the wrong thing, these lips that so readily do the wrong thing, these tongues that so readily speak the wrong thing, these natures of ours that operate from the outside in, these little eyes that are so eager to find a favorable smile in somebody’s face, these ears that are so eager to hear of some financially satisfying news. Lord Jesus, you took all these into yourself. You took the very worst of us and allowed Your Father to burn them out into eternity by His wrath forever so that we might be freed from all that we have been up to this present moment.

O Lord, we thank you that that is up to date right to this very second. You died in eternity in the midst of timelessness for the express purpose of being able to apply that to any of us at any second. So Lord Jesus we thank you that you have crucified us up to this second — and up to this second. We can be freed from ourselves and live above what we have been over these years. We can live in you and be like you to our Father. We thank You Lord. Thank You Father.

We commit ourselves to beginning to live the way we were meant to, this very moment through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And now the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and evermore. Amen.


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