Saturday, December 27, 2008


I have the honor of being able to speak at a friend's church tomorrow evening. I wanted to post my sermon notes here. Hope you get something out of it. Thanks Jake!

So we’ve been going through this identity series wrestling with this thought of who are we. The general idea is that God gave us all an identity and we have been trying to make substitutes for what we already have instead of just accepting it. We are created so we don’t need to try to create ourselves, we chosen by God so we don’t need to seek man’s approval, we are servants, and we are forgiven through Christ, there is no earning that. So we come to end of this series about our identity and I want to really do some history here and really get a grasp on our identity.

God created the world and everything in it (Genesis 1).

Man was created in this beautiful Garden and even given a wife. God actually walked in the Garden with them (Genesis 3:8- Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…)

So from the beginning of time we were created to have this beautiful relationship with God. We didn’t even know what sin was, so nakedness didn’t even bother us. We were walking around bucked naked having a good time with God in the garden. There was no sin. That is hard for me to comprehend. But just like any good love story there is always the jerk who comes in and messes things up. God, Adam, and Eve were having this great relationship and along comes the serpent who lies to Eve and causes her and Adam to both question God and chose to disobey Him. They ate of the one tree God told them not to. Adam nor Eve had this toddler instinct to do what they were not told because they didn’t know what wrong was, so they were fooled into sin.

So there are two things you need to know about God. He is an all loving God, but He is also an all righteous and just God. God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden once sin was born into the world because if they would have stayed there they would have lived in sin forever. This creates a big dilemma because God can’t be around sin. His righteousness can’t touch sin. It’s like water and oil, they don’t mix!

The implications of this original sin are huge! Paul sums up how that day affected the rest of the world and its history in Romans. (Romans 5:12- therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned)

Now the whole world is full of sin. Again God can’t do sin, He just doesn’t do it. So in order to get to God man has to be blameless before Him. After we messed up the relationship and our identities though, after we separated ourselves from God by sinning, God was always and is still trying to call us back to our one true identity. God chose Israel out of all the people on the earth. He chose to be their God and make a promise to their people. He chose Abraham and promised to bless him with a nation. He gave them the Ten Commandments in order that they could know Him and live unlike any other people on earth. Then if you are really feeling dangerous you can jump into reading Leviticus (my favorite person study of the Bible was when I went through Leviticus actually, for real) and you will see all these other things that God tells His people to do and build in order that they would be separate and able to come before Him by obeying all these temple worship laws and ordinances. God creates this whole separate nation deal. A nation and Him, His people and Him. But, like always, people start complaining about things and start crying about not having a king. God warns them of all this and tells them what having a political king (like a person, instead of Him) as their king would imply and after they still insist He gives it to them, a king. By following all the things God gave them to be and do they would be separate people. In God’s law they would have an identity. They were not pleased with this identity and sought after their own, trying to be like the other nations. They are steady seeking an identity in the face of God trying to tell them who they are, that is why he was separating them, to show them their identity. God gave them all these things that separated them and allowed them to come before Him.

God left a hole in that system though; He left a hole to point towards something else. See this sacrificial system was never ending the Jews always had to go back and get right with God, they always had to make these sacrifices in order to be able to speak to God, to be His people.

Now we live in this world that is now plagued with sin because of Adam and are in constant search of our identity right? We can all recite John 3:16… (John 3:16- God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life) God loved the world so much. This word world is Greek kosmos, it means the entire universe. He sent his son to die for it because it was full of sin. The world and its values are sinful now. So people born of the world are sinful. Natural man is sinful…the kosmos is sinful…it is not of God now because of sin. God is just but also loving. A completely just God can have nothing to do with sin, He must punish it, there must be consequences. Well, God is also loving so He created a way to fix the problem we created by choosing to betray Him.

So because the kosmos is sinful God sends Jesus to save it from its sin because there has to be a way that God can get to us without breaking His own nature of being Just, so He sends someone else to die in our place and continues to chase after us, giving us a way back to Him. We don’t have to do all those sacrificial laws anymore, Jesus died and was the perfect atonement sacrifice and has covered our sins.

Jesus is speaking to His disciples and praying for them and says something strange though.

John 15: 19/If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 17: 14-18/ I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

What does it mean to live in the world, but not of it?

Of in the phrase of the world is the Greek word ek which means a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds), from, out (of place, time, or cause; literal or figurative.)

In Jesus’ prayer He actually says He is sending us into the world after He says that we are not of the world.

Jesus tells Nicodemus that he has to be born again. (John 3:5-8- Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and of the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.)

So being born again means you are born of the spirit and your ways come from it. Like the wind Jesus refers to, the sound of the wind and where it blows, its actions and ways tell you where it is. So our origin of Spirit is seen by our lifestyle.

So being in the world but not of the world is simply saying you are in the world, among it and its people, but your origin or preposition is from the Spirit. Once you have this Spirit you have peace with God (Romans 5:1) Having peace with God and being born of the Spirit, the same spirit that he breathed into man when he created us would get us back to where we started right? Well not exactly because everything and everyone else now still has sin. So now we can have that relationship with God that we had in the beginning but still live in a sinful world.

There was this Russian Orthodox Church last year that took refuge in a cave for several months, they completely separated themselves from society because they wanted to follow Jesus so close. I don’t think that is what He had in mind. So how do we live in the world but not be of it without being freak’s and weirdo’s? Well, part of it is that we will be a little odd, but for the good, not the bad. Following Jesus calls us to do some crazy things, but all those things help us live life to the fullest, the abundant life Jesus talks about. We are called to forgive, not complain about things, find joy in suffering, help the helpless, give our money away. I call it the beautiful upside down backwards Kingdom.

Being in the world but not of it is actually just getting us back to the identity we were made to have. We were never created with the intentions of living with or among sin, we were never meant to even die or get sick. God created us to be in a perfect relationship with Him. We are all born missing that because of sin. Jesus offers a way to be born again, a way to be born of the Spirit and get back to the way we were created to be, in a relationship with Him. Because of that we will do things and live a certain lifestyle will shine like start among men. We will be noticed by the lifestyle we live. The lifestyle following Jesus is so far from what those who don’t know Him is (the world) that we will be noticed by what ours looks like. So we can live a life that reflects Jesus and our originally intended identity, but still live among sin.

How do we do that? That is seeking Him in his word, following Jesus practically. This is our identity. Our identity is not of this world, it never has been, it never was intended to be of sin and brokenness, once we find that identity then we are full, even though we live among sin. It is letting God and the Spirit dictate how we live our lives, it means practically living the Bible and Jesus’ ways out the best we can in our world. I will warn you though, don’t think just religious practices will do it. Jesus jumped all over the Pharisees for stuff like this, He even told them they were of their father the devil. Religious acts look good, but without the genuine heart to back them, they mean nothing.

What this whole being in the world but not in it deal boils down to friends is your identity and I’ll ask you where is your sense of identity? The world sells a lot of cool looking toys that captivate our imagination only to disappoint us, God has given you a unique identity, Jesus died so you could get back to the way things were meant to be. You are either lost and have an identity crisis or you know your identity and live it out among those who don’t know theirs. Those are the two options. Where do you find yourself? I pray that you would seek to get back to the way we were created to be and give up all these dead ends and fancy toys that let you down, all these false identities and seek Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! I'm just wondering if you are still there speaking bringing in the New Year, that was a lot of notes :) haha!! Just kidding...I know you love to write!