Living for The Wrong Reasons
Living for the Wrong Reasons
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
What I’m going to share this morning is what God kept saying to me. We could start loved ones, with 1 Thessalonians 5:23, because that’s one of the basic verses that we always used to use. And really, that rather enigmatic introduction is meant to say that God seemed to bring before my mind some of the old presentations, and the old illustrations we used, and it just came home to me so truthfully, that I thought, “Boy, I just have to share it this morning.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And even though my wife missed most of those Sunday evenings, all of you suffered them, or have suffered them on video anyway. And that was the basic verse of course, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And of course, the first important point is what the Father says there, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly.” And sanctify is “Sanctus”, holy in Latin, “theo” is become or be made, the passive voice and it means may the God of peace himself make you wholly and make you holy wholly, make you completely holy. May the God of peace himself make you completely holy, and that brings hope to those of us who have struggled with unholiness, that it is God’s Spirit that does it.
It is God’s Holy Spirit that comes down and cleanses our hearts by faith. And what I wanted to remind you of was, in order to do that we have to be consecrated so there are two sides to the whole experience. One is the human side, the consecration and the second is the divine side, the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. And of course, what is killing our churches is they’re strong on consecration and they’re almost silent on sanctification. So they’re strong on what the human being can do, so that’s why we have so many how to books, and so much emphasis on do this. Even dear Billy Graham, make your decision which is good but it’s only the human side. The important side is the work of the Holy Spirit.
But the consecration is important and it seems to me, that’s something that we often brought before each other on Sunday evenings. “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may he keep your spirit,” you remember the famous diagrams, “And your soul and your body blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus.” And you remember well how I used to share that God’s will for us was that we would live utterly dependent on his love and that’s what would govern our lives completely, the Father’s love and that we would get from his love our security. As Jesus said, “Look at the lilies of the field, they do not sow or gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” And then your significance that every hair of your head is numbered, and that love from the Father – significance, that love from the Father is what brings us our sense of being of value. We are of value to him. It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of us, we are of value to him. And of course, it is his love that would bring us our happiness. And that was God’s will that we would live like that.
We used to say, you remember, live from the inside out, and we would say that is the Father’s will for us, that we would get all our sense of security, significance, and happiness from his love. And then our souls would therefore operate in the light of that. And you remember, we said that the spirit consisted of our communion with God and it was through communion with him in our spirits that we received our happiness, and it was through our conscience and our sense that we were right with
him, that we had our sense of significance, and our intuition is how he guided us in our life and gave us a sense of security and that it was God’s will that that’s the way things would work.
Our soul consisted of our mind, and our emotions, and our will, and the Father’s desire was that our mind would understand the directions that he gave us through intuition of our spirit and our mind then would govern what we did. Similarly our conscience would be governed by our relationship with him and our sense of his approval of us, and that would constrain our wills. And our communion would bring us our happiness and would express that in our emotions so that our mind would understand our intuition, and our conscience would constrain our wills, and our communion would – I use this word in the sense of a transitive verb, would rejoice our emotions, would fill our emotions with a sense of joy, and that that’s the way we would operate. And of course, what happened was we decided forget God and his love, we will live by the world’s love and that that was what the fall was about.
It was man deciding he will get from the world what God meant him to get from him. And of course, once he decided to do that then he had to get somehow the security that he was meant to get from God, and so he looked to things, and the clothes, the house, the money, that sort of thing. And he needed a sense of significance, so of course he went the celebrity route, let’s get everybody to approve of me and then I’ll feel important and that will give me a sense of value. And then of course, circumstances. I have to have a break. I have to have a vacation. I have to have a boat. I have to have a motorbike. I have to have chocolate ice cream. I have to – circumstances, make the circumstances so favorable that then you’re happy and you become happy. And so the mind, and the will, and the emotions all became utterly perverted.
The mind began to be used to manipulate things so that you would in fact get security. The will was utterly ruled by not the constraint of the conscience but ruled by people, by what people did, and the circumstances absolutely dominated the emotions, and brought them joy. And so the whole thing was turned around and what we face then is that kind of a life. We face a life where the soul, the activities of the soul, are perverted and operate in a way that is absolutely opposite to what they were meant to. And what we shared was the carnal life is a life that is working that way, from the outside in.
Then we used to say, you remember, that when you’re born of God’s Spirit you see something of this and you begin to receive something of God’s love, but all the time the body and the soul are still operating up that way. And so, round about here, we used to say is the clash, the good that I would I cannot and the evil that I hate is the very thing I do. And so there comes that classic Romans 7 life where the mind of the flesh is against the mind of the spirit and they work to prevent me from doing what I will. And so you get that old life of struggle. And I would say that most Christians still live in that carnal life. And you remember, we said that what actually happened was God in his goodness crucified that old self on the cross with Christ.
God did a work that changed us all in Jesus and then he said, “Now, I want you to enter into that. I want you to accept what I did in my Son. I have turned all these things the other way. The soul – the mind no longer manipulates, it understands. The will no longer is ruled by people, it is constrained by the conscience. The emotions are no longer dominated by circumstances they are rejoiced by their communion with me. In my Son, this is you. This you has been destroyed. This is you here.” And bit-by-bit the Holy Spirit began to make that real to some of us. Began to show us, yes, that’s right, we can see that we are meant to live by God’s love and by his Spirit. We’re meant to die to the love of the world. And for most of us that is a crisis experience.
Are you willing to die to what the world gives you and to depend only on God? And that is what we call the death to self, or the second blessing, or a real baptism with the Holy Spirit is that as opposed to just the superficial experience of tongues or gifts. But the real work of the Holy Spirit in baptism is to cleanse the heart by faith and that only takes place when you’re at last willing to die to the world’s love with Christ and to come alive to God alone, and to regard yourself, consider yourself therefore dead indeed unto sin, because sin is really just living by the world’s love. It’s living independent of God. Reckon your self to be dead indeed unto sin and to be alive in Christ Jesus. And so that was the basic question in being crucified with Christ, or coming into entire sanctification, or coming into the second blessing, or coming into a clean heart.
It is being willing to die to the love of the world and to live only from God’s love. And that means being willing for these changes to take place. Am I willing to die to things? In what way do I depend on things for my sense of security? In what way am I thinking of the insurance policy, or thinking of the retirement plans that we’ve made? In what way am I depending on the things that I have, the clothes that I have, and the possessions that I have, even this house that I have? In what way am I depending on things? In what way do I become irritable or greedy about things because I’m really dependent upon them? In what way am I dependent on people for my sense of importance? Why do I get upset when somebody criticizes me? Why do I get upset when somebody doesn’t give me the respect that I deserve? Is it because I am still trying to get my sense of significance or importance from people? Am I utterly cast down if they don’t like me? Am I utterly cast down if a customer rejects me? Is my value found in what people think of me? Am I dependent on my circumstances for my happiness? Am I absolutely lost if I’m not going to get a holiday this year? If I can’t get a break, a bank holiday, am I as happy as I would otherwise be? To what extent am I willing to die to things, and people, and circumstances, and depend only on God’s love?
It was good for me – it was just a good test for me if whenever I found myself impatient with people, or I found myself as my wife would know, getting sad about my circumstances, I thought, “Am I slipping off the cross? Am I really willing – am I really at home with Jesus? Am I really content to be dead with him to all these things?” And so that’s what we call a crisis experience. And then we find, after the Holy Spirit cleanses our hearts, we find that this old soul has got used to these things. It’s got used to operating like that and we find it creeping in at times to ourselves. We don’t find that it’s something we want to do deeply from within the way we used to, but we find that there are ways in which we still are using our mind a bit in the old way.
Sometimes we’re using it a bit to manipulate things rather than to concentrate on, “Lord, what do you want me to do? Sometimes I’m not really dependent on my intuition. I don’t really think first of all, ‘What does the Father want in this situation?’ I think, ‘Well, what do I see as needed in this situation?’ And so I’m busier trying to understand the situation or the things than I am trying to understand God’s Spirit.” And similarly with conscience there are times when instead of simply saying, “The Lord wants me to do that and I do it,” and I exercise the will in response to my conscience. Instead, I allow my will and its decision to be modified a little by what people are saying, or by what other things seem to indicate and so there isn’t the clarity that you begin to see there should be. And actually, some of this – we talk about soulishness and we talk about carnality as this are you willing to live of God and not the world, but we talk about this as soulishness.
It hasn’t the selfish urge in it that the old carnality had but it has a preoccupation with
something of the old creation. It’s, “Well, I’m like that. That’s just my nature. That’s the way I am.” I could use it actually with all of you reps, “Well I can’t talk to a person like that because it’s just not me.” And of course, the Savior didn’t hang on the cross and say, “I’m a royal person here, it’s not like me to have to do this kind of dirty bloody stuff.” But we too often stand on our high horse and say, “Oh no, well it’s not me, my personality is sacred it cannot be touched.” And the Savior is saying, “Will you not become water in my hands as I became bread and blood for you?”
So the soulishness can be something that really does stop – you remember, we would say that it is God’s will that the whole life, his whole life, would move freely through us and move out to the world. But when that soulishness is still there, often it comes up against a bit of preoccupation with argumentativeness, or a preoccupation with peccadillos, or a preoccupation with some particular way you have of expressing your personality and it stops the clean flow of Jesus’ Spirit to others and instead, what they meet is you, very much you. Not admittedly the old selfish you, but still you. It’s not you, it’s not the conscience constraining the will but it’s the will modifying it. And it’s the same of course, with the happiness. You get so used – the soul gets so used to being made happy by circumstances that it really is a whole new experience to begin to get your happiness from communion, and from having prayer times that are deep and quiet enough so that you come from them with a shining face like Moses and with some of the joy of the presence of God in you. And you come down in the mornings with, well you know, R.L. Stevenson (poet who wrote “The Celestial Surgeon”),
“If I have faltered more or less in my great task of happiness; If I have moved among my race and shown no glorious morning face; if beams from happy human eyes have moved me not; if morning skies, books, and my food, and summer rain knocked on my sullen heart in vain: – Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take and stab my spirit broad awake; or, Lord, if too obdurate I, choose thou, before that spirit die, a piercing pain, a killing sin, and to my dead heart run them in.”
But how often have we come down in the morning and if I have faltered more or less in my great task of happiness. I have come down, you know, without the brightness of Jesus in my heart. Without the brightness of the presence of God moving in my heart and then I meet Lucy in the morning, or Trish, and my heart is down in the darkness, then that’s where the personality is preventing Christ flowing through in all his delight and joy. So this is what we call walking in the Spirit. This is what we call, you remember, God breaking us of these habits. These are habits of thought, habits of feeling, and ways of doing things that are not Christ. They’re not as evil, you might say, but they’re independent of Jesus’ beauty so in that sense they’re evil, they’re ugly. But God breaks us from these day by day as the years go by.
What I saw again this morning early, if you don’t move on in this it’ll move back and capture it all. If you don’t move on through in walking in the Spirit, if you don’t allow Jesus to transform you completely, this will creep, it’ll creep back down again and you’ll be back where you started. So it is very important that each of us walk humbly with our God and that we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and that we regularly do our self-examination. I’ll leave this on the board so you can copy it if you wish, but that we regularly do our consecration clearly before God. And I’d ask you again, where do you stand? I understand I’ve beaten myself over the head with, “Now wait a minute this is just a way of looking at things this isn’t the only way to speak truth.”
I think it’s not the only way to speak truth, but it’s remarkably clear and so I think it’s not a bad thing to examine your consecration even daily, but certainly weekly. Examine it before God and
just ask again these questions, is there any way in which I’m depending on things for my security, depending on people for my significance, depending on circumstances for my happiness? Is there any way in which my mind is still manipulating things, my will is being ruled by people, my emotions are being dominated by the idea of my circumstances?
Is there any way in which I am not really using my mind to understand the intuition that comes to me through my spirit? Is there any way in which my will is not be constrained directly by my conscience? Is there any way in which my emotions are not rejoicing from – coming rejoicing from the Father happy, not requiring somebody else to make me happy, but full of happiness myself so that I’m giving joy I’m not getting joy, I’m not concentrating on enjoying, I’m concentrating on sharing the joy with others? And I think it’s good to see that it is a clean way, it is a clear way that is – the life is definite. The life in the spirit is definitely not the life of the flesh, it is utterly different and it’s good for us just to see it and to rejoice again in it. Let us pray.