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Description: Change in our lives comes when we let go of this world of senses and believe plus live as a new creation in Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
Have You Given Up Your Rights?
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
The eyes are one of the senses and the ears another of the senses, and then touch is another of the
senses, and then taste is a sense and then smell is a sense. So those are the five senses. And loved
ones, you have a real choice at the beginning of this year. You can choose whether this year is
going to be just another drag really, whether it’s just going to be a continuation of what has been
or whether it’s going to be different; you can determine that. You can determine — and you know it
actually in your heart as you sit there — there is something that rises when I say that and there
is something that says inside you, yeah that is true, I know that. And there is a French saying,
which if I were my wife I’d remember completely, and it begins “Plus ca change”– would you be
daring enough to say it again? “Plus c’est la meme chose”, the more things change, the more they
remain the same. And you know that so often that’s been the truth in our own lives. We come to the
beginning of another year and we’ve thought, well it’s a new year and we should do something
differently. But we get to the end of that year, and the more the year has changed, it’s been 1986
not 1985 the more our life has continued in the same, unsatisfying often, progress and development.
Now loved ones, you can determine this morning whether your life is going to change at this crucial
moment that we face this Sunday. It is a crucial moment, there is no way to get around it, it
doesn’t matter how cynical you get about New Year resolutions. This is a crucial moment in your
life. This first Sunday in a new year comes to most of us only about 70 times and maybe if by some
particular strength God says it might be 80 times; but rarely does it come more than 80 times. We
will only hit this spot in our lives about 70 times more and of course many of us know here, most of
us are at least over the 20 mark and we know that we don’t have more than 50 more new years like
this. And then of course I would remind you of the obvious fact of human life that you have already
experienced; that the more often you hit it and don’t make a change, the more easy it is to hit it
next year and not make a change. In other words, the more often you start each year with no change
taking place the more likely it is that your life is going to go on like that and you are going to
be like so many of us in our dear world. You know what we are — we are a bunch of drifters. We just
drift, we don’t necessarily believe in Skinner’s Determinism, we don’t necessarily believe that we
are predestined but we act like we are — we act like we are. We just keep on making the same
mistake, the same errors, the same messes year after year after year; we don’t change radically.
Indeed, it surprises us at times when we see how much the same we are now as we were five years ago.
Now, loved ones, you have an incredible opportunity today to make a change in the way your life is
going and I can tell you very simply, the key to it. Those five senses are what bind us to this
world; believe me I am not talking about the terrible irreligious world of alcohol and drugs. That
is a terrible world and its not attractive at all, but that’s not — you know its not that “Aunt
Sally” that we all shoot at; that’s not the world, that’s not the most terrible thing about the
world, the vices that we can enumerate on our fingers.
I’m talking about the subtle spiritual fallen world, that binds us to it so that we become
increasingly its prisoner. I’m talking about the world that binds us through our five senses.
Somebody writes a book, somebody preaches a sermon and we listen to it and we say yes, we must
change, we must change. But there is a little voice inside us that says, but look at the way you
behaved towards your friend today, look at the lie that you told yesterday. Look at the
circumstances that surround you, it makes it impossible for you to be different. And we, like silly
little puppets, turn our five senses on those things and we look at the things that we did
yesterday; and we listen to the things that we have said to others in the past.
And we are all taken up with our circumstances. We allow all these facts to come through our senses
and we allow that sense world to utterly dominate our thinking. And we come to a Sunday like this
and we say, yes, I want to make a new covenant with God, I do, but from what comes through my five
senses, I think there is no real hope of me ever changing. And you know how it works, you make your
covenant today with God, and tomorrow you are dishonest about something or you lose your temper with
someone, or you let an unclean thought come into your mind and that little voice says, look at what
you have just done. And you, like a little robot, set your eyes on that and you say, that’s right I
haven’t changed, I haven’t changed, I’m just the same miserable creature. And you live by your
senses. You live by what you see of yourself in this present world.
Loved ones, this present world is a world under water, it’s a world under water. This present fallen
world that governs us by its so-called pretended ability to supply us with security, to supply us
with a sense of esteem and a sense of importance, this present fallen world was destroyed by God in
a flood before you and I were born. And it was destroyed then in a flood to express what God had
done in his son Jesus, in his death he crucified this world. He destroyed it — and in his death on
Calvary, he destroyed you and all that you have been for eternity. He destroyed you absolutely and
completely so that this fallen world is a world underwater and you are an old self that is under
water, neither of it really exists any longer in God’s eternity. And he is saying to you, that’s
reality. Not the things that come through your senses, through your eyes and through your ears, not
the things that come through your taste and through your sense of smell. That is not reality.
Reality is that your old self was crucified with Christ and when Christ died, this whole fallen
world was crucified also, and you are free to live above it.
And God says to each one of us this morning, you can live differently from this day on. If you
believe what I have told you in my word: that I have changed you, and I have changed this fallen
world and every time you see yourself failing in some way that’s the fallen you that I crucified
with my son. Forget that, it’s dead and gone. And see that I have raised you up and made you sit
with me in the heavenly places. And that you are a new creation, fix your spirit on that, fix your
mind on that, fix your heart on that, that you are a new creation. Because I put you in my son, you
are a new creation.
And if you say to me, “Really? Do you mean, that tomorrow if I lose my temper and that voice comes
inside me and says, ‘See? See with your eyes what you are. You are the same miserable bad tempered
old creature that you always were.’ Do you mean, that at that moment if I reject that as a lie, if I
reject that as a description of what once was and what has been crucified with Christ, and I instead
set my mind on what God has made me in his son, that I begin to be able to live in that place?” Yes,
that’s it. Yeah, that’s it, that’s exactly it.
You believe it first, and then you live it — that’s it, see? You don’t first live it and then
believe it — that’s walking by sight. You first believe it and then you live it. That’s it loved
ones, that’s how you break the vicious circle of years of bad habits, of years of knowing yourself
too well. That’s where the adage — you remember that originated I think with Seneca, one of the old
classical writers, that’s where that adage is not sufficient, “Know thyself.” It’s one step; but if
you only know yourself, all you will know is a miserable heap of garbage that grows year by year by
year. And gets more and more offensive to you — then more you know how subtle it has become in it’s
own selfishness. No, don’t just know yourself; but know the new self that God has made you in his
Now loved ones, I will just give you something to hang on, on that because I think you need to see
that it’s in his dear word, it’s in Ephesians. And it’s chapter 2. It’s an amazing statement if you
really note the tenses that are used and see the significance of 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,” see, that’s before you were even alive, see that. It’s before you ever
thought of going to church. It’s before you ever thought of making a New Year resolution. It’s
before you ever thought of doing anything that would justify God in doing anything for you. “Even
when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” God made you alive
with Christ before you were even born into this physical world. “By grace you have been saved.”(You
see by grace, just by generosity) “and raised us up with him, and made us sit” (you see those are
all past tenses) “raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ
Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness
towards us in Christ Jesus.” That’s where you are, that’s where you are.
You are not some miserable little American or Irishman or Frenchman or German trying to hack it out
down here on earth, just standing on top of the garbage that you have heaped over the past year and
trying to get a foot in. To get up clear of the garbage, and sinking deeper into it every time you
push to get up? No. You are a person that is already been crucified with Jesus by your creator.
And has been made new in Christ and is being raised up out of his sheer grace and kindness and put
right beside him in heaven and he is allowing you 70 years here on earth to believe that. And the
moment you believe it, you have grabbed hold of the rope by which he will lift you out of that heap
of garbage. That’s it.
There is a rope. Try to get up out of the garbage of the old self of years and years of failures and
you will sink deeper into it, it’s like sinking sand and you know it. But just raise your hands and
there is a rope there, a rope that has dangled right down through the years here on earth; and it is
the rope of Jesus’ mighty death and resurrection. And you are in Jesus; and the moment you believe
that, you grab hold of that rope and God just lifts you clear of the garbage and you begin to live
new and clear and clean.
Loved ones, once the failure of falling back into that heap of garbage is gone, you find that it’s
easy by the power of Christ’s Spirit to live far above anything that you have lived before. That’s
why I’d ask you to seriously consider making an absolutely new covenant with God today. And taking
an absolutely different attitude to yourself throughout this New Year. No longer receiving the
evidence of your senses as to what you are or what you have been or what you are day by day but
beginning to see yourself as God sees you — a completely new creation.
Loved ones, that’s the way through and that’s the only way. And that’s what God asks each one of us
to do this morning. I encourage you, as my heart goes out to any little one here who is like myself
or has been over the years. Where you try and you try and you try again, and you try to change and
you try to improve and you can’t do it and you fall back into the mess that you were. Loved ones,
there is a way out. It’s by beginning to set your eyes on what God says you are in his son. I am a
new creation. The old things have passed away, the new has come, and a little voice — that is the
voice of Satan, says to you, “no, look at the way you behaved towards that person today, you are not
a new creation.” You answer, “I am new creation, God says I am a new creation, he says that the old
has passed away and what he has done to me in his son Jesus. I believe that, Lord, I believe that, I
am a new creation, I thank you for that.” And take your eyes off what you can see with your eyes and
hear with your ears. Stop living in the sense world and start living in the spirit world. That’s it.
Walk by the spirit and not by the flesh, don’t let Satan bury you in your own refuse and garbage
anymore — don’t loved ones, don’t. God has moved it away — why should you live in the middle of
it? That’s why I encourage you to make a new covenant with him on this first Sunday of 1986. And
then to keep that covenant through every day of this year by refusing to live by what comes to you
through your senses and live by what God says is true in his son Jesus.
Now what we’ll do is we will all take part in the covenant and the communion service. But I would
encourage you only to take part in your heart and in reality in the bread and the wine if you mean
it, because it’s very important not to take the bread and the wine unless you really mean it. You
don’t have to be a member of the church. You need to be just real about what we shared this morning.
But I would encourage you to only take it if you are real about that; because otherwise you know,
you eat and drink damnation onto your own soul if you take it lightly. So I would encourage us all
to take part in it, even in the words. But then when it comes to the body and blood of the Lord
Jesus, it’s very important that you do just what you wholly and entirely mean because the great
creator of the world sees what we do in this room this morning and he deals with us accordingly. So
I’d encourage you to prepare your own hearts loved ones, as we make anew our covenant to God on this
first Sunday of 1986 and I just ask Gentry to lead us into the covenant.
Dearly beloved, the Christian life to which we are called is a life in Christ, redeemed from sin by
him and through him consecrated to God. Upon this life we have entered having been admitted into
that New Covenant of which our Lord Jesus Christ is mediator and which he sealed with his own blood
that it might stand forever. On one side, the covenant is God’s promise that he will fulfill in and
through us, all that he declared in Jesus Christ who is the author and perfector of our faith. That
his promise still stands, we are sure. For we have known his goodness and proved his grace in our
lives day by day. On the other side, we stand pledged to live no more unto ourselves, but to him who
loved us and gave himself for us and has called us so to serve him that the purpose of his coming
might be fulfilled. From time to time, we renew our vows of consecration especially when we gather
at the table of the Lord. But on this day, we meet expressly as generations of our fathers have met
that we may joyfully and solemnly renew the covenant, which bound them and binds us to God. Let us
then, remembering the mercies of God and the hope of his calling, examine ourselves by the light of
his Spirit, that we may see wherein we have failed or fallen short in the faith and practice. And
considering all that this covenant means, may give ourselves anew to God.
Let’s stand together loved ones, and maybe you just have a bulletin with you which has the words of
the covenant in it on page 3, and then, when we come to that we can just make our own personal
covenant with God as we repeat those words together.
And now, beloved, let us bind ourselves with willing bonds to our covenant God, and take the yoke of
Christ upon us. This taking of his yoke upon us means that we are heartily content that he appoint
us our place and work, and that he alone be our reward.
Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honor, others
bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and temporal interests, others are
contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please
Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is assuredly given us in
Christ, who strengthens us.
Therefore let us make the covenant of God our own. Let us engage our heart to the Lord, and resolve
in his strength never to go back. Being thus prepared, let us now in sincere dependence on his grace
and trusting in his promises, yield ourselves anew to him.
And let us use the words of this covenant, loved ones, together, as we speak these vows to God
I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt; put me to
doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let
me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, Oh
glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine, so be it. And
the covenant, which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in Heaven.
And now you that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your
neighbors, and intend to lead a new life following the commandments of God and walking from
henceforth in his holy ways, draw near with faith and take this holy sacrament to your comfort and
make your humble confession unto almighty God.