“How Do I Live in Today’s World?”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. We are pleased to announce that today's episode is being filmed at the Hawley Church of Christ in Hawley, Texas. These wonderful Christians invited us to be their guest and to film inside their church building. Now this is a very special treat for us and we look forward to our time together. Contrary to what some may say, living as a Christian is not all that easy. It takes effort, on a daily basis, to live in accordance with God's will for one's life. In fact, some people even wonder if it's worth the effort. They might say, well, living as a Christian takes to much discipline and sacrifice. And besides, I want to live any way I choose.” Oh, those are some things we too might consider if we ever wonder if living as a Christian is worth the effort. But there is so much more to consider when thinking about how I should live in today's world, and it begins with God's view and not mine. For the next few minutes, we will consider some specific reasons to live for Jesus and what that looks like in our daily lives. Once again, thank you for joining us from the Hawley Church of Christ, and I encourage you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study together.
A number of years ago Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote a book entitled “How Should We Then Live?” And in that book, he suggested the importance of correcting one's moral and ethical behavior, and he also went on to add that he believed the Bible's teaching was the basis for one's values because it provides an absolute by which one can live his or her life. When I think about that statement, I realize that is a question that each and every one of us needs to consider on a daily basis. How shall I live today? By what standard am I going to base my life? Upon what foundation am I going to stand, and live, and conduct my affairs from day to day? When people around me live according to their own standards, when they have a set of guidelines by which they live, I suppose it's tempting to buy into that and to live the way every body else is living, instead of living by the absolutes that we find in God's Word. And I sometimes struggle with exactly how I need to live in today's world. What is the basis and the foundation for my life? Especially when I hear people saying things like this, and perhaps you've heard some of these statements, "I am free to live any way I so choose." "I'm not accountable to anybody for anything." "My decision-making process doesn't affect anyone but me." "I'm above the laws of the land." "I don't believe there is a God to whom I will have to give an answer." And when I hear those statements I realize there are some attitudes in our world today that persist, that says; you know, it really doesn't matter how I live my life. It really doesn't matter what I do, or where I go, or how I speak. But when I think about those statements I realize there is coming a day when we all will have to stand before the Judgment Seat of the Lord and give an account of the way we've lived our lives here upon this Earth. I also realize that our lives, our actions, our words, do affect other people because I think about the children, I think about our family members, I think about those with whom we work. They're listening, they're watching, they're trying to incorporate some of those things perhaps into their life or formulate a certain standard by which they are to live. Then I also realize that those who are Christians are called to live by a higher standard. If we claim to follow Jesus Christ then He shows us the standard by which we are to live our lives in this world. Well, the apostle Paul was concerned about the lifestyle of some Christians living in the city of Corinth, almost 2000 years ago. There were divisions among that small body of believers. People divided and followed this leader and that leader instead of following Jesus; even to the point they began to hate one another, and take each other to court, and sue one another over trivial matters. But perhaps the biggest problem these people in the city of Corinth faced was sexual immorality. Oh, it ran rampant. It was terrible there in the city of Corinth and perhaps the phrase, well I am free to live any way as I so choose, was a favorite or a popular saying among those Christians that city because they lived like it. They lived as if it really did not matter what they did, or where they went, or how they conducted their affairs. And so, as Paul writes this letter to the Christians living in Corinth he shares with them, in 1st Corinthians chapter 6 beginning with verse 12, a better way to live. I want us to think about this Scripture verse for just a moment, as we think about a better way we can live in our world today. Beginning with verse 12 of chapter 6 Paul writes – “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." – Paul emphasizes the importance of Christians living with respect for what Jesus Christ has done for them. He says; remember the sacrifice Jesus made. Remember, that you are united with Him through the act of baptism. Remember, He is your leader. And so you unite yourself with Him and He unites Himself with you and together now you are one. But evidently, these Christians living in Corinth have forgotten that. They were living any way they so desired, believing their conduct did not matter. It did not matter the influence they had upon other people, in fact, they were simply living like all of the other people around them who were not followers of Jesus. And then many things, which we quickly condemn today, were really no big deal or not an issue to the people in Corinth. They thought nothing of what we might consider absolutely immoral behavior that would bring shame or embarrassment to us or even to our family members or friends. And so in these 9 verses the apostle Paul deals with that, and he shares with them 3 very important things to consider. The 1st one is found in verses 12 through 14. He states; your body is created by God. There is coming a day when God will redeem the body through the resurrection. In other words, God has joined the physical and the spiritual in this world and that's the way it's going to be in the world to come. One's body will be resurrected and reunited with the Spirit. And that was something Paul emphasized over and over again, especially in chapter 15, here in 1st Corinthians. And because that is true, therefore one's body is important and a person cannot simply act as if the actions in the body do not matter, because they do. And to misuse one's body then disrespects the God who made it. Well, that didn't matter to the people living in the city of Corinth. To them it made no difference what they did with their bodies. If they were hungry, they ate. If they sought sexual pleasure and fulfillment, they found it. And in their minds, their actions were harmless and it really didn't matter what they did. Well, Paul comes along, here in chapter 6, and he states; that's not right because wise Christians will not act in these self-satisfying ways. They will not become slaves to their passions. They will not simply act like the beasts of the field and pursue whatever is of interest to them without regard for any kind of consequences or ramifications of their actions. And so again, their bodies were not something that would be cast off in the next life but rather the body, the soul, the spirit, would all be joined together again. And with that in mind, Paul says; the way you treat your bodies needs to change. Well he continues on here, as we read in verses 15 through 17, and he states; your body is for the Lord. Well, that only makes sense because it is the Lord who created the body. And those who are Christians have a special relationship with Jesus Christ. Their physical bodies no longer belong to themselves but they belong to the Lord, and so again the point is made, be careful how you act and think about changing your actions to represent Jesus Christ, the owner of who you are. Paul even makes a reference over here to Genesis chapter 2 verse 24, going back to the time when God created man and woman, Adam and Eve, and He said, “The two will become one flesh.” And Paul says; that's the way it is with you as Christians. You are one with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is one with you. Because you have been bought into Him you now wear His body. He created it and now He owns you, and you represent Him in the world. And so that's Paul's point, the one who is sexually immoral takes something which belongs to Jesus Christ, that is his or her body, and then links it to something else that is not holy, and Paul says that's not right. That's not the way you're supposed to live as a follower of Jesus. And then he goes on, in verse 18, and uses the image of running away from sexual immorality. He says; flee from, run away from. It reminds me of the story told in Genesis about the young man Joseph, there in Potiphar’s household. And he's confronted by Potiphar’s wife to do something he knows is not right. He takes off. He runs. He gets out of there as quickly as possible because he doesn't want to disappoint the God whom he is serving. And Paul says the same thing; clean up your sexual life. Run away from that which is not good and right. Then he has the 3rd point, in verses 18 through 20, and that is; your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. Yes, it does matter what we do with our bodies because the body is the temple in which the Holy Spirit lives. Now for the Christian living in the 1st century that was something very special and important because when they went to worship they went to the temple and knew they would encounter God. And when they encountered God they knew He would be holy, therefore they had to be holy themselves. They had to be as pure as possible so they could encounter the Creator of this World and know that that encounter would be good. And so Paul says; now you are that temple. God's Spirit lives in you therefore be holy. Make sure your body is a place where God wants to do well. And that's the message that Paul is trying to get across, here in this last part. And so there's a big contrast between the way they are living in Corinth and the teaching of the apostle Paul. They say; well I am free to do anything I want to do. Paul says; glorify God in your body. They are focused on their presumed rights and freedoms, and Paul says; you're right is to serve God and submit to Him. When I think about the world in which we live today, I realize it is filled with all kinds of immorality and sin, and when I read this message it hits home. I don't know how it hits you but it makes me think about how I live. If I'm going to represent Jesus Christ in this world, what exactly does my life need to look like to the people who look at it? I'm so afraid sometimes we forget that when we become Christians we give up any kind of presumed right or freedom to live any way we want to live. It's not there anymore. Oh, we do have freedom in Jesus Christ, but that freedom never entitles us to satisfy our own pleasures and our own desires in this world. But rather, on the other hand, it inspires us to live a life of holiness. It inspires us to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, to be united with Him, and to bring glory to His name. I remember Jesus, a long time ago, early on in His ministry, had something to say about that very issue. In the Sermon on the Mount, He writes this, in Matthew 5. You are the salt of the earth but if the salt loses its saltiness how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Jesus lets it be known; if you're going to follow me this is the way you live, because people are looking at you. And so therefore let your light shine. Let it shine so the other people can see that I am living in you, and they in turn will also praise God. Let your light, and let your life, be like the salt that purifies, and blesses, and makes things and other people around you all the better. Other New Testament passages jump on board with these messages of Jesus. Paul writes in Romans 12:1, “I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Here in 1st Corinthians again, just 3 chapters earlier, in chapter 3:17 he writes, "if anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him, for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” And that's the same thing basically he said, basically, there in chapter 6. And I think about the apostle Peter writing along the same line, in 1st Peter 1:15-16, “Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” Then in 1st Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” And then also in chapter 2:12, “Live such good lives among the pagans they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” The message of those passages is quite plain, isn't it; that Christians are called to live a life of holiness. Christians are called to get rid of the bad and to replace it with that which is good. Take just a moment, if you will, and watch this short video clip from our website, keytothekingdom.com. It illustrates the point Paul is making.
One of the greatest problems millions of people in the world face today is the lack of good water. They don't have good and sufficient water to bathe in, to wash their clothes in, or even to drink; and the water they do have is full of impurities. It is full of all kinds of germs, and disease, and once they take that water into their bodies it will do damage, even to the point those people might even lose their lives. I think about people who have water, like is in this glass right now. On the surface it appears to be good water but yet this might contain all kinds of impurities, and people will take that water and it will do all kinds of damage to their bodies. That water is not any good and needs to be thrown out and cast aside. But thankfully, there are places like a water treatment facility that can take that bad water and make it into something that is good and healthy for an individual. And now, that water is free from all kinds of impurities. That water is clean, and good, and healthy for an individual. And maybe that describes our life. Maybe it's time to get rid of the impurities that are in us, and to call upon the name of God to make sure that everything is right, and pure, and holy in His sight. David, long ago, was confronted with some sin in his life. He has sinned against God. He has sinned against his fellow man. And he recognized the error of his way and so he cried out to God, in Psalm 51. “Oh God, create in me a clean heart.” Maybe it is time that we offer that same prayer. God create in me a clean heart. Remove all the impurities. Get rid of all that which is not good and healthy for me, not only physically but especially spiritually, and allow me to stand right, and pure, and holy in Your sight once again. Yes, call out to God to clean up your life and to make sure that everything is right and holy in His sight.
And so now, we come back to our question. What describes our life as Christians in the world today? Is it an attitude of freedom to live any way I so choose or is it a lifestyle of holiness, set apart to do the will of Almighty God? I want to offer some things for us to consider. I want us to bring it right down to where we live on a daily basis and ask ourselves some tough questions about how we live in this world. Think about these different scenarios, or situations, that you find yourself in on a regular basis. How do we, as a Christian, act at an athletic contest when a call goes against our favorite team or perhaps one of our children? Do we holler, and scream, and yell at that referee or do we understand that just might be part of the game? How do we respond when we go to a grocery store and we encounter someone who doesn't seem to be capable of handling the task of checking out our groceries? Do we respond with a critical comment and a piercing look, or do we offer our assistance and our encouragement? How do we respond when we go to a restaurant and the food server does not get our order done correctly? Do we have a sense of arrogance about us and leave without leaving a tip, or do we offer some kind of encouraging and kind word, and love on that person just a little bit more? How do we respond representing Jesus Christ in this world when driving along in traffic and someone cuts us off? Do we say something under our breath and perhaps seek to retaliate, or do we offer a prayer for that individual as they make their journey down the highway? Or, what happens as a Christian, even in our own homes, when something doesn't go our way with our spouse or our children? Do we say words that damage, that are abusive and unkind, or do we offer lots of forgiveness and love? In any and every situation, our lives are to demonstrate holiness. Our lives are dedicated to the Lord, who saves us and who gives His Holy Spirit to live within us, because someday our lives will stand under God's judgment. Our bodies belong to the Lord and therefore we are to live to the praise and glory of His holy name, with everything we do and with everything we say. Yes, we belong to God and our purpose, and our role, here upon this earth is to let other people see that. And that brings us back to the question that we asked at the very beginning; how am I supposed to live in today's world? We live representing Jesus Christ. We live letting other people know what He has done for us and what He can do for them, too. And that's the encouragement for each and every one of us today, to represent Jesus Christ in our life.
We are so glad you chose to watch this episode of "Key to the Kingdom." We trust the message from God's Word blessed you and will make a difference in the way you live in today's world. Have you downloaded the "Key to the Kingdom" free app on your Android or iPhone? If not I hope you will take just a minute to do so and begin to enjoy the many features, like daily devotional thoughts, and short inspirational messages. I do believe it will be well worth your time. Again, I want to offer a special word of thanks to the church in Hawley Texas for inviting us to film in their church building today. We appreciate their warm reception and their partnership in this effort. Also, remember to tune again next week, at the same time, as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."