Challenged to Change
Sorry, Video Not Available.
Freedom to Obey
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
One of the things you have said to each other is, “If your life is not a sermon then you can’t preach a sermon, and if your life is not a song you can’t sing a song, and if your life is not a poem then you can’t write a poem, because finally what the world looks at, is not the nice words that you say from the pulpit, or the nice words we sing, but what they see Monday through Friday.” And probably there isn’t one of you here in America, at this moment that is not acutely aware for the need for that kind of living.
As we all, I think feel, I think sympathy; you have to feel sympathy for some wee souls that are under all kinds of criticism. As you feel sympathy for them, yet you know yourself that what does most harm to the honor of Jesus is not the poor sermons; it’s not even the poor singing, it’s the poor ‘living’ that is doing harm to the name of Jesus. And what our friends and colleagues at work see is not what we do on Sundays, but what we do through the week, Monday through Friday.
And part of the difficulty we’re finding ourselves in, in evangelical Christianity here in America during particularly these weeks and months, part of the difficulty is due to the heretical gospel that we have preached, and shared, and elevated, and studied, and taught, for years and decades here in the States and in the western world. I’d like to just point that heretical gospel out to you again, and then just share again the real gospel, briefly as we look at a piece of the bible loved ones in the New Testament in Galatians 5:16. And Paul was saying to the church of Galatia, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now, the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
And even though one feels a little more and more like a ‘voice in the wilderness’ these days, yet I raise this voice again to point out loved ones, that the way that we are defending Tammy and Jimmy [Jim and Tammy Bakker, television evangelists who were disgraced by immorality and fraud] at the moment, is first of all through our love and our prayers, and then it’s through a heretical gospel. And the heretical gospel is this: that we all sin. And we can’t expect anything else but to sin, throughout our lives, and God forgives us all. Therefore, God will forgive Jimmy. And that’s not right.
God does forgive Jimmy Bakker and Tammy Bakker. And most of you have done just as bad as he has, because fornication, or adultery, or homosexuality is no worse than tearing a person down by criticism. It’s no worse than jealousy, or pride, or envy, or anger. And who of us here can ‘cast the first stone’? So first of all we need to see that the wee souls are no worse than all of us. It’s just that they have been caught in something society says is a ‘terrible, immoral act’. But loved ones, the way to defend them is not to say that we all live sinful lives day, after day, after
day, and God forgives us, so he will forgive them. That isn’t the gospel that is outlined here in these versus.
I’d just ask you to look at them. In Verse 19 of Galatians 5, “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication,”– that would be adultery as well, and it would be homosexuality; it would be included in that sexual designation in the Greek. “Fornication, impurity:” that would be unclean thoughts and thoughts of hatred towards other people; criticism towards other people. “Licentiousness:” that would include, I suppose, all our eating where we do not obey what God has told us. “Idolatry:” where we worship an automobile, or a house, or our own career. “Sorcery, enmity, strife, jealous:” that would be displeased with somebody who seems to be thought of as better than yourself. “Anger:” that would be temper, bad temper, losing your temper. “Selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy:” wanting to have what somebody else has; wanting to be like somebody else, and annoyed that they appear to be better than you. “Drunkenness, carousing, and the like.”
And there’s a temptation today with our heretical gospel to say, “Don’t worry; do your best to avoid those things, but where you can’t avoid them God will forgive you anyway. So just do your best, and God will make up the deficit. Now brothers and sisters, that’s different from this next sentence, “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Now that’s the false gospel.
The false gospel is that we’ve to do our best like all the rest of the humanists in this world; we’ve to do our best to avoid sin, and where we fail to avoid it, God will make up for the shortcoming. So we’ve just to do our best and he’ll make up for where we fail.
That’s not the gospel. These words obviously contradict that, because these words say, “I warn you, as I warned you before,” so Paul obviously had to say this before. “I warn you, as I warned you before, that people who do such things, people who fornicate, people who are envious, are jealous, people who lose their temper and are angry, people who are licentious, they will not inherit the kingdom of God — with or without Jesus, they cannot inherit the kingdom of God, because they’re “building their house on sand,” and they’re not obeying God; and they’re believing, against scripture, that people who do these things will get into the kingdom, because they say they believe in Jesus.
Loved ones, that is a heretical gospel. That’s antinomianism. “Anti” in Greek, is ‘against’ and “nomos” is law; it’s ‘against law’; it’s ‘lawless’ Christianity. It’s the kind of Christianity that we were warned against in Peter, where we were told about the coming of the ‘lawless one’ where people will sear their own consciences. That’s not the gospel. The gospel is not that Jesus died to bear the punishment for your sins, so that you could sin with impunity. That’s not the gospel.
The dear Savior died to destroy your sinful nature so that you would be free to obey God. That’s the gospel. If you say to me, “But brother what if we fail once?” You know it’s not failing once that is the problem. You know what God wants in heaven is characters that are like his own. He’s not concerned with your once failure, or your odd time mistake, but he is concerned with our characters. Have we received the deliverance that God has brought to us in his Son, Jesus? And if you say to me, “What is that?” It’s deliverance from depending on the world. That’s it.
Why do you get envious? You get envious because you’re concerned with what other people think of somebody else. Other people are thinking somebody else is better than you. Why are you concerned about that? Because you’re concerned with what other people think of you. If you say to me, “Well,
I’m concerned with that, because I’m made that way. I’m made that way! I need other people to praise me! When other people criticize me or run me down, my whole being reacts against it. I’m made that way!” And the miracle of Calvary is that God destroyed you in Jesus; destroyed that way you’re made. That’s your sinful nature; he destroyed that, and he remade you so that you could be free from what people think of you; free from whether they praise you or criticize you; concerned only with what God thinks of you. And therefore, can you see, free from envy and pride?
That’s what God did for us in Jesus. Jesus did not die to ‘cover’ our sins. That’s what he did for the Old Testament people; he just covered them. But they were all under there wriggling, and wriggling like mad, inside their sinful natures. But Jesus’ death covered their sins in Old Testament times. Now, in New Testament times, he destroyed the sinful nature, that produces those sins.
So loved ones, what Jimmy Bakker needs; what Ernest O’Neill needs; what Christine Kierkagor needs; what Carmen Shepherd needs; what you need; what we all need is not somebody to come and say, “You’re forgiven because all the rest of us are just as bad.” That’s not it. What we need is somebody to come and say, “God has done a work in Jesus that has delivered you from your sinful nature, so that you can live free from sin.” Now, as the old Catholic saints would have said, seek the wounds of Christ; seek the wounds of Christ. Go back to Calvary yourself in your own prayers, and ask God to show you what he did to you in Jesus, so that he can do it, and make it real in you today. That’s the gospel, and that’s really what the brothers and sisters are saying. They’re saying there’s only one way to proclaim Jesus, and that is by your own life being delivered from the sin that causes death.
And let me tell you a secret; all the wee souls out there, all of them out there, that’s what they want. They want to see a people who live differently from themselves, and who live above sin and self. And when they see that, they’ll begin to think it’s possible perhaps for them, too. And they’ll seek our Savior, our Savior who died to save us ‘from’ sin, not ‘in’ sin.
Let us pray. Dear Father, we know that these are serious, grave days in which we’re living. We know our Father that our own society is being swamped not only by all kinds of things that we would never have dreamed of years ago, but also by a confusion about what is right and what is wrong. Our Father, we want to put our lives on your side. So Lord, we ask you by your Holy Spirit to enable us to receive the gospel of truth into our own lives, so that we may be freed from self and sin, and may live the way you intended us to.
We ask our Father, that even in the closing moments of this sacred concert, you will move in our hearts, and you will use the words that are sung to enable us to come into freedom from all that is wrong in our lives, so that we may praise you with our daily behavior as well as with our tongues, in Jesus’ name.