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Description: The failure of 'How To' books to change us is because we don't want to change. Our nature rebels against it! We are slaves to ourselves.
Communion: Why ‘How To’ Books Don’t Work
1 John 2
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
1 John 2 beginning at verse one, “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you many not
sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and
he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says “I know him”
but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in
him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he
abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the
beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new
commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true
light is already shining. He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness
still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling.
But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where
he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. I am writing to
you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I
write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,
because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father
is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the
pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of
it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.”
I thought of that verse 16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the
eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.” Those are the things that
rule most of our lives, “The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.”
Strauss Kahn of course is not the kind of name you want to mention these days in connection with
God’s worship, because Strauss Kahn you remember, is the gentleman who everybody thought might be
the next president of France and who was I believe either the Vice President of the IMF or was the
head of the IMF which is the International Money Fund.
He was actually head of it so you can see was regarded highly by the world and obviously regarded
highly by France as thinking of him taking Sarkozy’s place as President. But Strauss Kahn was the
man who demonstrated the lust of the eyes. Came out you remember of his hotel room some time last
week here in New York, came out of his bedroom naked and rushed at the dear maid who was cleaning
the room and wrestled with her on the floor, pulled off her clothes, and did all that he could to
rape her if possible. So of course he is in shame before the whole world and is at the moment in
custody in New York and being charged with crimes that could cause him to be held for 30 years
because of violent rape.
And we all say terrible, terrible, just dreadful and unthinkable. And undoubtedly he has his
problems as a man over the years. He apparently has shown a violent attitude sexually towards women
of all kinds and is well known for it. We have a tendency to set him over there and ourselves over
here and say we’re nothing like that disgusting individual. But of course this is a description,
this verse of the way most human beings live. Most are governed by those things, the lust of the
flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Those are the reasons why every attempt at ‘do it yourself’ or ‘help yourself’ are so puny and so
ineffective. I don’t know if you’ve looked recently at the list of best sellers but they’re always
full of ‘do it yourselfers’. They are always full of books that show you how to be a better person
and how to live successfully and victoriously we would say. Yet it’s almost a joke among human
beings because people talk about another how to book, another how to be successful, how to be happy
and everybody has a quiet understanding they don’t work! They don’t work!
Some of us who have tried some of them say, “Oh yes, yes they do work. This one worked here for me
and this one worked here for me.” So actually all of us have found some semblance of victory and of
a happy life through reading bits of those books. It’s on the basis of that partial success that
they remain on the best seller list. But deep down we all know that they only work when we want
them to work. But there is something that we can not understand we don’t always want them to work.
Though we say that the good that we would we do not we really know underneath that do not because we
do not want.
That’s because there seems to be something wrong inside us that actually seems to make us want to do
something different. There is it seems a kind of law almost in our natures that makes us want work
one way when we really know that we should be working a different way. And that’s what we are
talking about when we talk about the old nature, when we talk about the depravity that runs through
our being, when we talk about the nature that we can not overcome, when we talk about the carnal
nature. That’s what we are talking about.
We are saying there is something in our whole system that makes us go one way when we know we should
go a different way. That’s why many of us will say, “Yes Strauss Kahn is a dreadful man, but there
but for the grace of God go I.” All of us know something of that inside. And that is what needs to
be dealt with and that’s of course why we have repeatedly shared with each other that no one can do
anything about that old nature but the One who created us in the first place.
That really is the point of Calvary. Now I’m sure you have realized by now that the irony of our
whole situation is with all the talk about Calvary very few people really know what Calvary did.
Very few really believe that it did it. Everybody believes Calvary was to make up for the failure.
Very few believe that Calvary is there to prevent the failure. Most believe Calvary is there to
make up for our failure to be what we are meant to be. It’s to cover our sins. It’s to enable God
to overlook our sins or to forgive us our sins. Of course the purpose of Calvary is to express the
cosmic destruction of the old nature that took place in the Lamb slain before the foundation of the
world. So the purpose of Calvary is to do away with the old self, to do away with the old nature.
That’s what God did. He did away with that in each one of us. He made it unnecessary for us to do
what was wrong.
And it is the privilege and the joy and the delight and the purpose and the function of the Holy
Spirit to make that real in each of us here in time. And that is the only way the old nature will
ever be changed. That’s what we are talking about here. Our dear Father is so good. How obvious
could you make it? As you eat this bread my son comes into you. As you eat this bread, you know
the way the bread, it’s almost as if a bit of his fingers are inside our mouth, saying see this
bread inside your mouth, you want me to follow it down your throat? And right in and then it all by
chemicals, actions of all kinds, separates out into your whole body. It becomes one with you.
That’s what my son does. He becomes one with you. He is in you. That recreates your nature as I
originally made you. He has done away with your old nature and he himself through his spirit will
make real in you his nature, his perfect nature. What I wanted to bring home to each of us
including myself is the subtly of the old nature.
Confidentiality, confidential – so I am talking with Marty and my little eyes search his eyes, the
little eyes with their lust search his eyes to see am I clicking with him? Am I understanding him,
is he understanding me and is there nice feeling here that we really understand each other in way
that nobody else does. And there’s a nice private little confidential relationship between us and
it’s a nice feeling and my eyes are trained to do that. They’ve been trained for years to see is
the other person looking with favor upon me? Are they approving of what I am saying?
One likes to think oh I’m just trying to find out if he agrees with me but to often there is in the
eyes a concern, am I gaining his approval? Do I please him? Does he please me? Have we a little
confidential relationship here that gives a nice kind of feeling of security and da da da. That’s
often the old nature. It sounds ok but it’s often the old nature. Sometimes there are things that
God wants you to say to someone else that is true, that the other person doesn’t see and that we’ll
be a blessing to them if you say it. But the little eyes of the old nature go out, would this
please this person? Are they pleased and you can often get half way through a sentence and then you
see, well this is a bit hard and I don’t know that she will really take this.
So the old nature subtly tones whatever God has given you to say. So what I saw was it’s not only
Strauss Kahn, it’s not only a lustful gentleman struggling on the floor with a black maid, it’s not
just that that is the old nature. The old nature is always working in all kinds of ways to express
the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. That’s what Jesus has delivered
us from and can deliver us here through his Holy Spirit so that there’s a straight shot, there’s a
straight shot of Christ’s Spirit, Christ’s life coming from inside us out to his world.
Each of you has a different life to live let’s say for this next month, for the rest of your life
obviously but certainly for the next month until the next communion. There’s a life that you’ve to
live that is different than each of our lives. There are things that Jesus has to do through you
that he will not do through any of the rest of us. There is a beauty and a purity of his Spirit
that he has to express through you that he will not express through any of the rest of us. And
that’s why we are taking communion this morning. And that’s what our Father has for you and most of
all what his dear Son has to do in you during these next weeks.
So it’s a fine sensitive and delicate life and spirit that he has to pour out through you and it is
so different, not just from the fellow scrambling on the hotel room floor with the maid, but so
different from the coarseness of our own lives. So different, so elevated from our as we say in
these days, our personal best, so different from our personal best. And that’s a great privilege.
Let us pray.