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Victorious Life

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Section 1:

Lesson 83 of 127
In Progress

Sloth and the Christian

Sloth and the Christian

Ephesians 2:4

Sermon transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

It is really quite exciting when you think the way this thing is going. He certainly isn’t coming out; Hawking is of course the leading scientist here in England and probably one of the leading ones in the world, and particularly on this theory of everything that they are working on, the theoretical physicists. He certainly not saying I believe everything Scripture says but they’re certainly coming around much more to a place where they are saying undoubtedly intelligent design is the way the world was made.

We just don’t think we have to posit God to explain that and of course their new presentation is we can explain how mathematically it would be possible to end up with such a world. But he’s quoting the Old Testament and quoting the various revelations of God to men and women in different religions and certainly to my mind a much softer attitude about the whole thing and not nearly as certain in their denial of God. He’s virtually saying what Barth says, our job is to talk about God as he has revealed himself in the Bible. Their job is to talk about what they can make of how the universe was made from what they observe.

Really when they go out of that sphere they’re no longer in a sense being theoretical physicists, they are attempting to be theologians. So it seems to me very understandable. But of course he comes up with many sentences that would be enlightening for you but he certainly comes up with this one. “Instead,” that is Quantum Physics, “it leads us to accept a new form of determinism” but of course his determinism when you read it is the one that we’ve talked about and that I’ll mention in a few minutes, “given the state of a system at some time, the laws of nature determine the probabilities of various futures and pasts, rather than determining the future and past with certainty.”

So he’s into that realm that there are some things we’re not absolutely, we can’t absolutely pin down. One of them of course is the velocity of a particle and its position at the same time. That’s what opens the way for them to say, the best we can do is probability and that’s what leads to fuzzy logic and that whole thing. Then he has one more sentence which leads straight into our scripture really. It’s this one, “The choice whether to take one or both paths in this case should have been made billions of years ago before the earth or perhaps even our sun was formed and yet with our observation in the laboratory we will be affecting that choice.” So he is saying that some things, some things were set but in some amazing way we affect what those are.

“In this chapter we have illustrated Quantum Physics employing the Double Slit Experiment. In what follows we will apply Feyman’s (a physicist) formulation of quantum mechanics to the universe as a whole. We will see that like a particle the universe doesn’t have a single history but every possible history.” And it’s that old end theory, the multi verse theory, that there are many universes. “Having just a single history, but every possible history each with its own probability, and our observations of its current state affect its past and determine the different histories of the universe.”

The Father has made you in his son and has changed you completely and raised you up with him and made you sit with him in the heavenly places and the things that you can do can have an affect on

that even now. “And our observations of its current state affect its past and determine the different histories of the universe just as the observations of the particles in the Double-Slit Experiment affect the particles past.” In other words in some amazing way the whole thing has been set up and created but it’s set up with all kinds of alternatives and there is in heaven a body of yours not made with hands eternal in the heavenlies. Doesn’t say it but opens the way for it.

They’re saying there are all kinds of possibilities, driven to it by the Double Slit Experiment, driven to say the light takes all kind, takes all possible ways. There are all kinds of ways. Of course it ties up directly with our famous verse if you look at it. Ephesians 2:4, “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,” now I point out to you that to be dead in our trespasses we had to have been alive. So that’s what he is talking about, he’s talking about in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. Old Barth you remember says it, he quotes Paul Gerhardt’s hymn, “E’er I myself to life was born, thou then was born for me. E’er I did know thee, I was known for I belonged to thee. E’er I myself was fashioned man, already in thy thoughts I ran.” So you are born from Mrs. Coleman, no. “E’er I did know thee, I was known for I belong to thee. E’er I myself was fashioned man,” in Mrs. Coleman, “E’er I myself was fashioned man, already in thy thoughts I ran, as thou wouldst have me be.”

We were made each one of us in Jesus as God originally intended us to. And then the Father gave us the freedom to die in our trespasses and then you see what he did. “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).” He made you alive together with Christ “And raised us up with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And that’s where you really are now. “That in the coming ages he might show” these ages, “he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

So you were made long before you were born in your mother’s womb. God foresaw what you would do. He foresaw the attitude you would take. He foresaw that you were dead in your trespasses against him. And he graciously made you alive again in his son. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing,” it has nothing to do with you. “It is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And that’s the reality of it.

That’s the reality of it, that all that has happened, all that has taken place and what you have is parallel universes, parallel versions of yourself which you can choose or not choose. And that’s why this dear guy here (Barth), says, “What is the heart of sin? The heart of sin is hatred, selfishness? The heart of sin is sloth.” Sloth, wanting to stay in our own little life, refusing what God has done to us in Jesus, refusing the resurrection that he has brought about in us, refusing that broad free place at his right hand side that he has given us, cuddling ourselves to ourselves and living in sloth in our own narrow limited sphere picking away at our own little things, doing our own little things, refusing to be raised up clear and fresh in the Savior. I mean that caught me. I could not believe it. I thought the fellow is crazy, sloth you know. As if that’s the only thing wrong, sloth. I thought, “You’re missing it completely. There’s far more to life than just this sloth.” But he goes on and lays it down very clearly.

“The sin of man is not merely heroic in its perversion, it is also to use again the terms already introduced in the first subsection; ordinary, trivial and mediocre. The sinner is not merely

Prometheus or Lucifer, he is also and for the sake of clarity and to match the grossness of the matter we will use rather popular expressions, he is also a lazybones, a sluggard, a good for nothing, a slow coach and a loafer.” Cuddling ourselves into ourselves, yeah I have been raised up with Christ to the right hand but that’s an act of outgoing life. A life where I have no time for myself, I have no time for the things that I like, I,I, I don’t want, it’s too fresh air for me, it’s too open, too demanding, “a slow coach and a loafer.”

“He does not exist only in an exalted world of evil, he exists also in a very mean and petty world of evil and there is a remarkable unity and reciprocity between the two in spite of their apparent antithesis. In the one case he stands bitterly in need of humiliation, in the other he stands no less bitterly in need of exaltation. But he refuses to be exalted,” he refuses to be raised with Christ and separated from his own little miserable life. “And in both cases the seed is in relation to the totality of his life and action. We will gather together what we have to say on the second aspect under the term or concept sloth. Again this form obviously falls under the even more penetrating definition of sin as unbelief.”

Sloth is unbelief. I do not believe I was raised with Christ. I believe I am here struggling in this miserable little life here. “For the disobedience in which man refuses the divine direction and does positively that which God does not will, has its basis in the fact that he does not grasp the promise given him with this direction.” He does not grasp the promise, “But refuses to trust in the One who demonstrates and maintains it’s faithfulness in this overwhelming way. But we must define the term rather more closely as we see it of human sloth. In its form as man’s tardiness and failure, sloth expresses much more clearly than pride the positive and aggressive ingratitude which repays good with evil.”

Christ you may have taken all my evil self, all my in turned self centeredness and you may have destroyed it but forget it. I do not care. You may have suffered it. You may have suffered separation from your Father on my behalf. I do not care. “It consists in the fact, not only that man does not trust God but beyond this that he does not love him. That is that he will not know and have him, that he will not have dealings with him as the one who first loved him from all eternity. But sin as man’s subservient obsequies sloth is from the very outset his desire not to be illuminated by the existence and nature of God.”

And that’s it. It takes a real — drop the drape. I will not see you and what you say you have done in me and what you have done with me. I will not see you. I will not accept it, “The very outsight is desire not to be illuminated by the existence and nature of God, not to have to accept him, to be without God in the world. The slothful in man who is of course identical with the proud begins where the other leaves off, that is by saying in his heart there is no God. This is the characteristic feature of sin, of disobedience, and unbelief in the second form. Again he thinks he has a sober idea of what is attainable.” This man of sloth has a sober idea of what is attainable, “of what is possible and impossible, within the limits of his humanimity. This leads him to question the real significance of this renewal of mans exaltation. The limited sphere with which he is content seems to him to be his necessary sphere so that it’s transcendence” and that is a rebellion against transcendence, it’s a rebellion against the idea that I have been transcended, that I my little self am no longer alive, I’ve been raised up into Christ, I’m part of him, it’s a refusal of that. “He is content it seems to him to be as necessary sphere so that it’s transcendence in the freedom of the man Jesus is an imaginary work in which he himself can have no part.”

I’ll read it again because it seems good. “The limited sphere with which he is content seems to him to be his necessary sphere” this is my real sphere, this is where I’m meant to live my life, “So that it’s transcendence in the freedom of the man Jesus is to him an imaginary work” that’s an imagination you think, I’m not raised up with Christ to the right hand of God, I’m not. “It’s an imaginary work in which he himself can have no part. Behind the indifference and doubt there is a definite mistrust. In the freedom of the man Jesus it’s seems that we have a renewal and exaltation from servitude to lordship but this is an exacting and dangerous business if it necessarily means that we acquire and have in Jesus a Lord.”

And that is really what the slothful man rises against, the idea of Christ as a Lord. “And if his lordship involves that we are demanded to leave our burdensome but comfortable and secure life as slaves and assume responsibility as lords,” we want to be slaves, we don’t want to be — it’s a comfortable little life we have, we don’t want to be lords. We don’t want to have the authority that God planned for us in Christ. “Why and to what extent is it sin? The reason is that at the rejection of the outstretched hand of God, the refusal of his grace, all this means that man neglects his own calling, that he is untrue to his own cause, that with his true reality he goes out into the unreal, into the void where he can not stand and be what he wants to be, where he cannot be a man himself but only his own shadow.”

You remember there is a hymn that says, “In him we are most truly men.” “The one who confronts him in the freedom of the man Jesus is not merely this fellow and brother as such, nor is it merely the God of this man, it is the God of every man without whom none either is or can be who he is. And in the person of this fellow and brother given him by his own God, it is he himself, his own true reality, his own humanity as it is loved and elected and created and preserved by his God in the person of this one. The terrible paradox of his sin in this form is that if he refuses the man Jesus he does not refuse only this man and his, and therefore his own God but he also refuses to be himself, breaking free from his own reality, losing himself in his attempt to assert himself and thus becoming his own pitiful shadow.” The man of sloth.

I think we’ve been raised with Christ. We either accept that or live in it or you reject it and you loose even yourself. I think it’s action. I think as long as we treasure our own stupid little things we’re living outside Christ. Christ is at the right hand of God flowing through the universe, achieving and moving, doing the things that his Father tells him. The slothful man is crowding down, “I don’t want to do that. I will not do it. I won’t give up my will in this. I live my own life.” And he’ll shrivel and shrivel. I think he’s right, I think the guy is right. I think it’s sheer sloth, it’s sloth. So we can’t do it for each other. We can pray for each other. Most importantly we can live in the wonder of Christ himself. “Shake off dull sloth and joyful rise to make thy morning sacrifice.” We can do that. That’s Christmas for us. Let us pray.