Renewal of our Souls
Renewal of our Souls
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Could you turn in your Bibles to John 17? It’s John 17:20-26, “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou has sent me and hast loved them even as thou has loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou has give me in the love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou has sent me. I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou has loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
I think that it is good to be clear in our own minds because the life we live and are surrounded by is dissipating so and has so many theories. We need to be dead clear about it. We live by faith. We live by faith in the facts. The first fact is the one that Jesus explains here in these verses. It is a fact that he is in us. You almost can’t emphasize that enough. We all have been brought up in the tradition of Christian faith. We’ve all known that statement before that Christ is in us. I think we all know we have taken it all kinds of ways and thought of it in all kinds of metaphorical ways and imaginary ways. It’s been hard in a way that Jesus in us is a fact. We were made in Christ and Christ is in us. We might not have always acknowledged him but he is in us.
It seems to me that’s the first thing — that’s the ‘born of the Spirit’. That Christ is in you. I don’t know if it is to remind ourselves as we get up or to think of that when we are driving in the car. Lord, you are in me. This is your body. This is your mind. Then if you think of lunch — this is your lunch. This is your day. The shop I am going into — this is you going into it. The same for sitting in the office. Lord, you are in me. I’m just little Joanne sitting here but you are in me. This is your desk. This is your pen. This is your phone and this is your phone call coming in, Lord. That’s what being born of the Spirit means. It means Christ in us.
I suppose what I thought it would fit into the diagram here. It is a fact. It isn’t a feeling you have to work up. It isn’t a dream that you have to dream. I think it free you from a lot of the strain in your lives, if you stopped thinking it is something you have to work up. Stop trying to work up a feeling that Christ is in me. No, breathe the air around you. When you breathe that, it means you believe the air is around you. You are accepting that fact. Believing Christ is in you is simply listening for his word and thinking of him as the minutes go by. Then watching out for any hint of what he wants to do through you. It means living a faith in that fact. Faith doesn’t create the fact; it accepts the fact and works on the basis of it. That’s really all it is. First of all you get that settled.
Of course what we have found that is what born of the Spirit, baptised with the Spirit is that you died with Christ. That’s a fact. It is not something to be imagined. With due respect to the Stations of the Cross, it’s not something to be diagrammed in any sort of image to help your soul to grasp it. It’s just a fact. You died with Christ. It helped me a lot even with whether I buy ice
cream or not. It helped with something small that you like to do but might not be best to do or have. Especially when someone has torn a strip off you or criticised you. Or, treated you contemptuously in a shop. It’s as if I was shot out of a cannon when I that Ernest O’Neill was crucified with Christ. He is dead — he doesn’t exist anymore. I’m here but it is Christ who lives in me. I’m here but it is not that Ernest O’Neill who has just been kicked around. That has been a great dynamic for me.
That’s why the Bible says you put to death the deeds of the body through the Sprite. It’s the Spirit that puts to death the deeds of the body — the reaction or the resentment of the contemptuous way people treated you. The Spirit puts that to death. You allow the Spirit to do that simply by exercising your faith in what has actually happened. In other words, the ‘you’ that twists up inside and wants to react against them that actually was crucified with Christ. God destroyed that.
I think we get into real trouble you see because we say I must imagine it. I was crucified with Christ so I shouldn’t lose my temper. That’s stupid. All that is is unbelief. That’s all it is. Either we were crucified with Christ or we weren’t. Either the Bible is right that our old self was crucified with Christ — that when Christ died, all died — or it wasn’t. Either God has done it or not. If he has done it you act in accordance to that.
That’s why faith has been an important thing. I can understand those words “faith is the victory” but you actually set your mind on the fact that person called Ernest, that person called Martha was crucified not just back then but in eternity. That person no longer exists. Now I’m here and I’m Mr. or Miss Christ. That’s who I am. That has helped me. You might say it is a mental game.
It’s helped me a lot. It’s helped me to see faith in the fact is the basis on which the Holy Spirit is able to work. So that’s baptised with the Sprit, filled with the Spirit is accepting that and coming to that. I agree with you that you can’t bear that fact unless you are willing for it. I agree you need to come to the place where you accepted you are crucified with Christ. It seems to me you walk in that or live in that.
Then the third thing is the walk in the Spirit. It is this business we talk about. It’s presumably an ongoing thing — renewing the soul. Because all this experience in here has to transform the real you. It has to transform this soul of yours. Where the will has been passive for so long. Where the mind has been used to manipulating things, people and circumstances for your own benefit. Where the emotions have been enjoying the good circumstances all the time. Then the will has to learn to rule the mind. The mind to understand what God wants you to do and why he wants you to do it. The emotions rejoice with him and your position with him at his right hand and all of that gives out to the world. That you can see is a big renewal job.
It seems to me if that is not taking place — if the soul is not being renewed — you end up being dominated by the society. The diagram is right. You end up being dominated by the world. Your soul goes the way of the world as in the things we have talked about at the dinner table. Your soul thinks more and more the way the world thinks. I don’t think Irene is affected as I am when viewing a movie with sex and violence. We are all different and we shouldn’t be hard on one another as I have been at times on you two. I don’t think we are all influenced in the same way. But that’s why I am concerned for myself because it is so easy to come under the dominance of the world so that it begins to fill your soul. It begins to reinforce these things actually. It begins to reinforce the passivity of the will or the mind manipulating or the emotions. That’s why I’m even hesitant on things like the movie ‘Wall Street’ and other movies where they manipulate one another ruthlessly
for sake of avarice. I often think I want my mind working the right way.
So you are either going forward there or you are going back. I don’t know if you can keep going back long before you fall through this stuff too. I don’t know how long you can hold on to that. I found that if I put a barrier somewhere in my soul or in my psychological self against the Holy Spirit, it seems to have the same effect as Lot’s wife looking back. You look back. Or as Peter on the water, you suddenly begin to sink. If you start grieving the Holy Spirit, then he for your own sake withdraws and witnesses that he is grieved. So the renewal has to be an onward movement — going forward all the time — not frenetic, not worried, and not anxious. It needs to be as the Holy Spirit reveals. That is why it is so important to wait on the Lord because that is what brings the revelation that enables you to see these things.
For one thing, usually we have no idea that the will is passive. We don’t think it is passive. We are just doing what comes naturally. We don’t realize we are passive unless the Holy Spirit wakens us up and says “You just do that all the time because the person suggests it.” or “You just do this because it is the easiest way to go.” “You haven’t really decided about this.” Often it takes revelation from the Holy Spirit for you to see the thing. Manipulation of the mind — we get so used to manipulating one another that we don’t even know we are doing it. We manipulate people, often it is the people we love the most. We know how to make them do something or how to bring something about. We do it ruthlessly. We don’t realize we do it.
These things are often because of blindness and deception. Of course there is always something of the will in deception but primarily it is a question of deception. You need to let Christ’s Spirit have His way. Let Him take you on. Lord Jesus, I want everything you want to give me. I want to be changed in any way you want to change me. Keep showing me, Lord.
Depression — undoubtedly is straight from the pit. Don’t you say you are a better depressant than me. You can’t beat me. But I have no doubt that it is straight from the pit. There’s a direct link to self — absolutely direct link to self. It’s better in that case to go right with that. Lord Jesus, that’s the end. I’m turning my eyes off myself. I’m turning my eyes off my bank account. I’m turning my eyes off my clothes. That is crucifying the flesh — there is no argument. I’m not going to be bluffed by Satan into deception.
So depression, anxiety and all those things are straight from the pit and tied right to self. They need to be dealt with strongly by fixing your mind on the things that are above where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. Do whatever it takes to hold it there. We have to be clear about the life we live. This is it. This is the life we live. These are facts that we live with. These aren’t ideas or things we have to make ourselves do, think or feel. These are facts. We live with these facts. That’s what our life is living with these facts.
That’s why I suggested when we were talking earlier in the dining room that all we have gotis what people see. They see our lives. They see our life in the shop or in the office over the phone. They either catch it from that or they read it from our websites. From us, it has to be caught. I think I say it a lot because Christianity has all kinds of ideas of what Christianity is. In a way, you almost do more harm in saying you are a Christian because they have so many versions of Christianity that they can string on you. It is better seeing you and catching Christ’s Spirit in you through the way you live, talk and behave. That results from living by the facts. Let us pray.