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Could You Be Shutting Yourself Off From the Kingdom of Heaven?

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Could You Be Shutting Yourself Off From the Kingdom of Heaven?

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Could You Be Shutting Yourself Off From the Kingdom of Heaven?

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It is God's desire for all men to come to repentance and enter His Kingdom. Christ "gave it all" and God gives us His Spirit to help us overcome this world, as Christ did, so that His purpose and will for mankind could be achieved. Yet, many will not enter in because they "shut themselves off" from His Kingdom. In this sermon, we will see how this danger might befall us, and how we can guard against it.

Transcript

[Rick Shabi] Good afternoon, everyone. Good to see all of you here today. I want to welcome visitors that we have with us, people listening in on the web as well. Let me thank the ladies choir. That was a very beautiful number. It kind of occurred to me while they were singing that we've seen several of those ladies singing solos or in smaller groups, but they were kind of an example of the sermonette, weren't they? When you bind them all together, they sound really, really good. So thank you. Thank you for that special music. I want to get right into the Bible today as I start, so if you'll turn with me to 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 6. I want to read what Paul wrote here as we are now just a little less than two months from Passover, as we are examining ourselves and seeing where we are and where God can correct us and mold us and show us what we need to do, what we need to overcome in order to become more like Him, which is our goal and the purity that He represents. Let's begin right there in 2 Corinthians 6:1.

2 Corinthians 6:1 He says, "We then, as workers together..." all together, all as one, "as workers together with Him, also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain."

Notice that Paul says, "I plead with you." What God has given you, what He's opened your mind to, don't take it in vain. Don't let it slip away. Don't let it be clouded out or clouded by other cares and concerns we're going to see here in a moment.

2 Corinthians 6:2 "For he says," verse 2, "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now. Behold, now is the accepted time. Behold, now is the day of salvation."

It is time, as we often say, for us to wake up. We see the world around us. We see what's going on. We know this is a time that we need to be paying attention, watching what's going on, not knowing when God will determine that Christ will return, but knowing the time draws near as we watch more and more things happen around us in every area of life. Now is the accepted time. Behold, now is the day of salvation. "We give no offense," Paul says, "in anything that our ministry may not be blamed." You know, that's one thing, you know, Paul says, if I said something to you, if something offended you, didn't mean to offend you. He had a job to do like ministers to do, to help lead under Christ's direction and as his Holy Spirit leads us, guide the Church to salvation, guide the Church to pay attention, guide the Church to be aware of themselves and to stay close and grow closer and closer to God.

2 Corinthians 6:3 "We give no offense in anything that our ministry may not be blamed, but in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses."

And what Paul does here is just saying, you know, he loves the people. He loved them. He wanted what was best for them. He wanted them to be in the Kingdom. He wanted them to be in the millennium. He wanted them to serve God and to come out of the world, as he'll say later. And I won't read through everything he says here, but you see the detail of what he says. I've done all this. He didn't do it for himself. He didn't do it for a pat on the back. He did it because he loved them and wanted them in God's Church and in His Kingdom. Let's drop down to verse 7 here. So as he goes on.

2 Corinthians 6:7-10 "By the word of truth he taught them, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor." Both of them happened in his ministry. "By evil report and good report." Some people wanted to malign him with words. Others spoke very highly of him. "As deceivers and yet true, as unknown and yet well-known, as dying and behold we live, as chastened and yet not killed, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things."

So he gives quite an introduction into this section of his second letter that we have to the Corinthians. And then he comes to verse 11.

2 Corinthians 6:11 He says, "Oh Corinthians."

Remember, the Corinthians Church or the Corinthian Church was a troubled Church, much like living in times much like we live in today. And we have 1 Corinthians, which is a corrective letter that Paul gave them, again because he loved them and because he wanted them to be, stay on the straight and narrow path to the Kingdom.

2 Corinthians 6:11 "Oh Corinthians, we have spoken openly to you. We've just told you the truth. We haven't held anything back. That's what we do. We've spoken openly to you. Our heart is wide open." And verse 12, "You are not restricted by us."

It's not the words that we say that's holding you back. You can't blame us, Paul says, for what we've said, we didn't mean any offense. We told you the truth. We told you what needed to happen. We told you in the prior letter what needed to do. And to their credit, they did it.

2 Corinthians 6:12 "You aren't restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections."

It's what you will do with this. And when we look at Chapter 6, that's the key verse in Chapter 6. From there, Paul goes on to talk about coming out of the world, which we all know we need to do, to leave our past behind, to recognize that when we were baptized, we told God we'd leave the past behind. We no longer want the old man. We no longer want to be part of the world. We need to come out of it and live our lives as citizens and living by the way of life that He has called us to. That's what He's called us to. Verse 12 again.

2 Corinthians 6:12 "You aren't restricted by us, Corinthians, but you are restricted by your own affections."

Now, if you have an Old King James version in your lap, it probably says, "By your bowels," right? Kind of a totally different word than affections when you do that. But when you look in the Greek, what they are talking about is the bowels represented your inward affections, not just affections for people, as some of the New Testament translations will indicate it, but your inward affections. It can be your attitude, your ideas, the things that you...man, I really love this. I don't want to let it go. And I have a choice to make sometimes when I have to choose between what God wants and what I hear and what I do, and what I do. "You aren't restricted by us, but you're restricted by your own affections. "

2 Corinthians 6:14 So he says, "Don't be unequally yoked together with unbelievers."

You're people of God. Don't partake with them. Don't let them lead you astray. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? God has called us to righteousness. We work in the world. We go to school in the world. We have neighbors living next door to us. But we understand them, but they don't understand us. We don't do what they want, or even family members who aren't part of the Church.

2 Corinthians 6:15 "What communion has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? What part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?"

Called to purity, called to come out of the world, called to become and be becoming more and more like Him. As God has said.

2 Corinthians 6:16 "I will dwell in them, I will walk among them, I will be their God, and they shall be my people." The called out ones of the world, the body that I have called them into and that I have placed them into, that I may lead them, that I may grow them, and I have put my Spirit in them when they have yielded to me, when they have been baptized and had hands laid on them and truly repented.

2 Corinthians 6:17 "Therefore, come out from among them be separate."

Still live in the world, Jesus Christ said that in John 17 on that last evening before he was crucified. I don't say that you take them out of the world, but they don't become part of the world. "Come out from among them. Don't even touch what is unclean and I will receive you." Separate yourself. You may be close to it but don't partake with the unclean.

2 Corinthians 6:18 "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

It's quite a powerful chapter when you read it. And you see what Paul is saying. And he's giving us all the reasons of what we have do to reminding us of who we are, what we've been called out of this world to become, and that the Church leads and guides us. God leads and guides us. God's Spirit will lead and guide us and help us and sometimes pat us on the back because it's all about encouragement, but it's all about maybe sometimes hearing things you don't want to hear or identifying things in ourselves that are in contrast to the Bible and the way of God. Those inward affections that can sometimes trip us up when we have a choice to make. Yeah, those inward affections and getting control of them is a matter of salvation. Righteousness has no part with lawlessness. The temple of God has no part with idols. Good has no part with evil. We know that we all know that God tells us we must learn to love Him with all our hearts, minds, and soul. That's in Matthew 22. We don't have to turn there. We know exactly what he said.

And Christ, when he was on Earth, He talked about this very thing that Paul talks about, these affections that can trip us up, these misplaced attitudes or misplaced loyalties to whatever it might be. Sometimes it's people, sometimes it's family, sometimes it's an idea that we might cling to, sometimes some other things as well. Let's go back and look at a few of Christ's words regarding this because I think Paul probably had Christ's words in mind when he wrote that verse 12 in 2 Corinthians 6. Back in Matthew 10. Matthew 10:34, he said something that the world just doesn't really understand right now.

Matthew 10:34 He says, "Don't think that I came to bring peace on Earth."

That isn't why he came the first time. Yes, he is the King of Peace. And yes, when he returns the second time, he will bring a lasting and perfect peace to the earth. And people will learn to live by his way of life, because living by his way of life is what brings peace. Not forced peace. Peace, peace, inner peace, and peace among each other, the oneness that Jesus Christ talked about.

Matthew 10:34-36 "Don't think that I came to bring peace on Earth. I didn't come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's enemies will be those of his own household."

Well, those are some pretty eye-opening words. You and I have heard those words scores of times. So maybe they don't have the same ring to us when we hear them. But if you read them and take them alone, what God is saying, He's not saying you should hate these people. But there's a difference. There's a difference in who we are. There's a difference in what we believe then, family members, other friends that we might have when we come out of the world. And even with Christ among his people, they hated Him. They hated Him for what He said, and yet He was one of them.

Matthew 10:37 He says, "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me."

How can we tell that we love someone more than the other? It's what we choose to do, right? So if mom or dad who isn't in the Church wants you to do something at a time that you know you shouldn't be doing, and you know that isn't what God would have you do, and you choose mom or dad, or brother or sister, or child, whoever the person is, who do you love? That's what Christ is talking about here, where is your affection? Absolutely right to have affection for mom, dad, brother, sister, friends, relatives. but where is the major, the first, the all your heart, mind, and soul affection? If you love God, you choose what He says to do first. That's what He's saying here in verse 37.

Matthew 10:37-39 "He who loves father or mother more than me isn't worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me isn't worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me." Verse 39, "Even our physical lives, he who finds his life or chooses his physical will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it."

Who do we love more? Where is our affection? Could it be that our affectionsare restricting us from God? Could it be that our affections, in some cases, are restricting us from the Kingdom of God? Let's go to the Gospel of Luke, Luke 14. Verse 25, Christ again speaks of these affections that we can have.

Luke 14:25-26 "Great multitudes, great multitudes went with Him and He turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to me and doesn't hate...that means love less by comparison. If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.'" He cannot be my disciple unless you learn and grow in the course of your life to love God most. Truly love Him most. Not just say it but demonstrate it by the choices we make in our lives. Verse 26, I'm sorry, verse 27.

Luke 14:27 "And whoever doesn't bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."

And verse 33, he throws it to everything, not just a couple things. Verse 33, same chapter.

Luke 14:33 "So likewise, whoever of you doesn't forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple."

Whatever it might be. Nothing more important than God. Willing to give it all up. Whatever he asks, I will do. Wherever you say, I will go. Whatever it takes to love Him first, to follow him, but to know the truth, to know the truth and follow him. Luke 6. Luke 6:40. As we are all here as disciples, no matter how long we've been in the Church, no matter what role we might hold in the Church, we are all disciples. We are all continually learning and growing, understanding the truth more and more, learning to love the truth more and more, and learning to love God more and more.

Luke 6:40 Says, "A disciple..." That's you and me and everyone listening. "A disciple is not above his teacher." Not greater than Him. He's the one who's teaching us. "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher."

They'll study him as well as study the Bible. They'll see how Jesus Christ was. How did He respond in situations that he was in? How did He maneuver Himself in a world that was against Him, that He knew hated Him, that He knew wanted to put Him to death? How did he handle those situations? When people threw out comments at Him and he was dishonored, as Paul said, how did He react? Did He back off? Did He say, I'm I'm not going to say that anymore because it just makes people angry? No, He was there to tell the truth. You and I are here to tell the truth and live the truth, to preach the truth. Jesus Christ gave that commission to us.

And so we have this concept here that Paul throws at us. It could be our affections that are restricting us and holding us back. We could be blaming someone else like people blamed Paul. You're too hard. You're too harsh. You're too demanding. No, it's what we committed to do, to follow God in exactly what He said to do. Let's go back and look at a few examples. Probably when we think of affection, the first thing we think of is people. So let's go back to the Old Testament and just look at an example there in 1 Samuel. 1 Samuel 2, you'll remember Eli, right? He was the high priest. He was a high priest. He knew exactly what his job was. He knew what he should be doing. And he had a couple sons who were serving in the temple as well. And Eli came to realize and understand those sons were not fulfilling their responsibilities the way they should. And it is his job to see that in the temple and the people who worked in the temple were doing things exactly the way God said to do it. And he did. He did correct them if we look at verse 12 here in...I'm in the wrong book. 1 Samuel, 1 Samuel 2.

1 Samuel 2:12 Says, "The sons of Eli were corrupt. They didn't know God."

They were not paying attention to Him. They were just kind of doing things the way that they wanted to do it. We drop down to verse 24. And Eli did correct them. He did. He did come to them and say, my sons, this is not what you should be doing. This is not pleasing God. You know what you've been taught. You have to do it His way.

1 Samuel 2:24 "No, my sons," verse 24, "it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord's people transgress."

You're setting them a bad example. When they see you working in the temple and you are doing this, they just think it must be okay. You're making them transgress. Do you get it that by our example other people look and say, well, they're the people of god and they're doing that, that must be okay with God. We would say that for every minister, we talk about that we have a very huge responsibility to set the example the way that God says it, that we have to hold ourselves accountable to Him because we obey God but also to set the example that others don't look at us and say, what's going on there must be okay if that person's doing that, that person has that attitude, that person did that, must be okay because they're the example. And this is what was happening with Eli's sons.

1 Samuel 2:24-25 "You make the Lord's people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him, but if a man sins against God, who will intercede for him? Nevertheless..." Eli told them, but they didn't listen. Eh, it's just dad talking. "Nevertheless, they didn't heed the voice of their father because the Lord desired to kill them."

Wow. But He saw their attitude. They were more interested in what they wanted to do, do it their way. They wanted to have all the things, the physical things, and use it for themselves. The meat, the women, the adulation. It was all about what they wanted. And they didn't really care what God wanted, and they thought they were getting away with it. And so God said they have to be removed. But Eli was putting family first. He did the right thing, he told them. He told them, but he didn't remove them. He didn't remove them from service. Down in verse 27.

1 Samuel 2:27-28 "A man of God came to Eli and said, 'Thus says the Eternal, Didn't I clearly reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? Didn't I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before me? And didn't I give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire?'"

"Could I have been any more clear in what my intention was?" God said. Could I have been any more clear in what my will is? God might look at me and you and say, could I have been any more clear in what my way is and that you should walk in it? The Bible is pretty clear. Not everything in it we naturally is...that we want to do. It takes time, it takes the Holy Spirit to overcome. Without the Holy Spirit, we can't do everything that God wants us to. But we can if we really love Him more and trust in Him that everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason that He is preparing us for the Kingdom. Are we restricting Him sometimes by our own affections? No, I don't want to learn that. I don't think I need to learn that.

Eli's sons didn't think they need to learn it. Eli didn't think he needed to remove them from service. But as we go on, we see God did kill. He did see that the sons and Eli lost their position, they lost their lives. Pretty tough. They were warned. They needed to understand Eli couldn't get past his affection for his sons. His sons couldn't get past their own affections for what they were doing. They really liked the way they were doing and it cost them. It cost them their lives. Well, family can just be one. And it's sometimes very difficult to tell family or people, no, God said I do this on that day and I choose Him first. I love Him more. I do what He says first. Or whatever the situation might be that a family or someone would ask you to do something that you know is not in keeping with the life that God has called you to. But there's other things that we have affections for too. Matthew 6. Matthew 6:24. Matthew 6:24. No one. No one. Not some can. No one.

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other."

When there's a choice to be made, what do you choose? The one that you love more, and that's agape, love, choosing, even though it's what you naturally want to do, you know it's the right thing to do. "He will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." So God says...he's talking about people here, right? But two masters, because we have other masters than people. We have other affections than masters. There's a lot of things in our lives we like to do, a lot of things we've become accustomed to, a lot of preferences that we might have. They may not be the preferences that God tells us to have. You cannot love God and mammon. You can't serve two. Choose one. And we will buy our choices in what we do in life. God will see which one we love more.

Jesus Christ came face to face with someone who walked with Him during His ministry. He heard everything that Jesus Christ said. Followed Him wherever He went. He was there to hear Christ's words. He was there and probably corrected, and probably corrected for something that...or at least it was probably mentioned to him, something that he had that was an affection that was going to cost his life as well. You know who that was? Judas. Judas. He showed I love money more than God. Let's go back and look at his situation here or the account of him in John 12. John 12:1. We get a glimpse of Judas. He was called, as I said. Jesus Christ chose him. God the Father chose him and Jesus Christ. And he was part of the body. He was there with the other 11 disciples, walking with Christ, heard everything that He had to say. The other 11 heard what Jesus Christ said. They were willing to give everything up and they endured a few rebukes along the way and weathered that storm. But in John 12:1, here in the season that we're just entering into.

John 12:1-5 It says, "Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. And there they made him a supper, and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. And Mary took a pound of very, very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of his disciples who was learning from Him and should have been looking to see how he was, how did he live his life, one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray him, said, 'Why is this oil not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?'"

Sounds like a noble thing, the right words, right? Yeah, this should have just been given to the poor. But Jesus Christ knew what was in his heart.

John 12:6 "This he said, Not that he cared for the poor," that wasn't why he said it. Sounded good on the surface. "Not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, he had the money box, and he used to take what was put in it."

Ah. If that money wasn't being spent on that spikenard, just think how much more would be in the money box. And I have access to that. I can take whatever I want. Now, there was a spiritual cancer in Judas. There was an affection that he had that he never rooted out as he walked with Jesus Christ. That affection for money, that love of money, that thing that he served more than God led him to actually betray Jesus Christ. Sold him for 30 pieces of silver. And today's money, that's only $200 or $300. I'm sure back then it was worth a lot more than it is then, but he never overcame that affection. He let that affection restrict him from the Kingdom of God. He betrayed his Savior. He turned his back on Him because He loved that more than God or Jesus Christ.

Can we imagine that? Is there anything in our lives that we would put before God and actually have it cost our spiritual lives? What could it be? He's not the only one, Ananias and Sapphira, they loved the money more. They decided they were just going to lie about it. Yes, we've given everything to the treasury when, in fact, they had just given half. They trusted in it more. What are the things that might be there thatwe might put before God? You know, money's one thing.

I remember...and I probably have given this example before. I remember not long after I became a pastor in Florida...And when I give this example, well, I won't guarantee, but none of you know who she is. Even if you're from Florida, she's never come to church, this lady, and never did come to church. But after we were there for a while, she called and she wanted to talk about being baptized. She had been taking The Plain Truth for a number of years, and then The Good News for a number of years as well. But had never come to church, but decided she wanted to visit and talk about baptism and to start coming to church. And so we talked with her, and she had what seemed a very good attitude, knew a lot about the Bible. And as we talked, you know, we said, well, you know, the fundamental beliefs, do you understand? No, she perfectly understood the Trinity as we went right down the fundamental beliefs just to see that she had the understanding of what the Church believed and taught.

We came to unclean meats. And it was unclean meats that she hesitated on. And she said, "I don't believe that I can't eat..." whatever it was. I can't remember if it was lobster or shrimp or whatever it was. "I don't believe that God cares if I eat lobster or shrimp. He isn't looking at that as part of my belief in Him." And we went to the Scriptures and we looked at it and talked about it. And yes indeed, He did, and went through Acts 10 and 11 so she understood those verses. And she said, "No, I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to give up that food." I was kind of stunned. I thought, wait a minute. You've been following for years and years and years. You never picked up on that in hours. And now that it comes time to go to church and we're talking about it, "No, I'm not giving that up. My friends eat it, I play cards with them, that's one of the things that we do every week. I am not giving that up." And we parted on pleasant terms and told her, "Well, you know, call about it, pray about it, and when you're ready, you know, call us, we'll talk more." She never came back. She loved meat more than God. That was the choice she made. Her affection was with that and the little group that she played bridge with. It was pretty sad. It was quite an eye-opener to me that someone would choose that.

Years after that we had a family that came to church for about a year, there every week. And then one day they didn't show up. Another Sabbath they didn't show up. They would not talk to me, but they told someone they weren't going to give up unclean meats. I thought, really? You came to church for a year. You were here, you talked with people. Just kind of amazing. So what is it? Even as people are coming to the Church, I've had people, they just won't give up Christmas. At such a nice family time, they won't give that up. They can't believe that God would care if they kept Christmas or not, even if they kept all the holy days. Yes, He does. Yes, He does. And so people made choices along the way. What was their affection that restricted them? It wasn't anything that anyone said. God says what the truth is, but they restricted themselves. Oh, it can be anything that's more important to us than what God's will is.

When Christ was on Earth, He had Judas that He had to contend with and He also had the Pharisees that He had to contend with as well. He knew they were watching every move He made. They would call Him on everything that was there, accuse Him of this and accuse Him of that, and they never received the truth of God. There He was, the Messiah they'd been waiting for, and they couldn't recognize Him because they were too wrapped up in their own things. Let's look at what Christ said to them in Matthew 23. Matthew 23:11. You remember this chapter? He talks...He really upbraids the Pharisees in this and lets them know that they aren't doing the will of God. Matthew 23:11, he says something we should always remember. Christ perfectly demonstrated this.

Matthew 23:11-13 He says, "He who is greatest among you shall be your servant." There is no greater servant to mankind and us than Jesus Christ. "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." So if we...well, just leave that as it is. He says, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. Hypocrites, for you shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men."

By what you are teaching the people, you're keeping them out of the Kingdom of heaven. You're teaching them error. Your example is in error. You exalt yourself as the supreme knowledge of Judaism. You shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men, for you neither go in yourselves. Well, he's pretty direct with them. Your affections, your positions, you who love the chief seats in the house, didn't want to give any of that up, that's my thing. Cannot give that up.

Matthew 23:13 "You shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men, for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in."

What was He saying? Your affections are restricting you, Pharisees. You love this more than you love God. You love this more than you love truth. You love whoever you are and the identity you've created for yourselves more than you love God and you will shut up the Kingdom of heaven. Paul said, "You're restricting yourselves. You're restricted by your own affections. You will not listen."

And when the Pharisees...they got worse and worse and worse. Finally, they delivered up the Messiah to crucifixion. Get rid of Him. We want Him gone. We don't want to hear what He has to say. And Pilate saw through it. Pilate saw through it. As it says in Matthew 27, he knew they delivered Christ up because he could see things were.. Christ was not what they accused Him of being. But they delivered Him up because of envy. They might lose. They might lose those chief seats that they so valued. They might have something happen to them that wasn't what they wanted to happen. Their affections were restricting them. And Christ said, "You're shutting up the Kingdom of heaven to other men, and you're not going in yourselves." You and I should take words like Christ says very seriously and look at ourselves and what we do and what things might be holding us back, that we just say we don't want that or that can't really matter to God.

I won't take the time to turn to Acts 8. You know, we have the example of Simon Magus in Acts 8. He was baptized and he was going along until he saw the apostles lay hands on people and they received the Holy Spirit. Remember what it says there? He wanted that power. He was a magician. He was well-respected. He was a showman. He was the one who everyone looked to. And he goes, "I'll give you money. I'll give you money, apostles, give me that power too." Peter rebuked him and said, "Get behind. I see the attitude that's there. You cannot buy that power, it's given of God." But he wanted to be the preeminent one. God. God. And he went his own way and did his own thing. He left the truth. The pride of life. The pride of life is another one of those affections that we might have that we need to look at.

Let's look at the Third Epistle of John. In the Third Epistle of John, we find a man whose name we've heard a little bit in the course of some recent things that have occurred in the Church. And he's an example of another one that where the pride of life took him over on his pet idea. His little pet idea and what he wanted to believe took him right out of the Church because he wouldn't let go of it. He wouldn't let go of it. Even though I'm sure he was talked to many times, this is the truth. This is what the Bible says. Probably, well, maybe. You've had friends, and probably everyone knows someone who was in the Church at one time and they developed their own little pet idea. You know, in 2 Timothy, we'll go there in a little bit, for Hymenaeus, it was the resurrections.

I remember a couple who came to the Church for a long time. He grew up in the Church. And all of a sudden, he began to have these ideas about everyone who calls themselves Christian, everyone who believes in Jesus Christ is really a brother, and they are all part of the true Church. Even though they weren't keeping the Sabbath, even though they were doing all these things, they were part of the true Church. And we would sit and talk about these things, but he just would not let go, and took himself right out. And the lady that he was dating went right along with him. Others have had sacred names. Take them out because it's their pet idea. That's what they believe. And they're going to just not listen to anyone. They're not going to look at the Bible. They're not going to listen to anything because it's there, it's part of the pride of life. That's what I believe, and I won't let go of it for anything. As we look at 3 John here. We'll pick it up in verse 9. John is the longest living of the apostles.

3 John 1:9-11 He says, "I wrote to the Church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them doesn't receive us." He won't listen. He wants to be the preeminent one. He's got the ideas. There's John, long-living apostle of Jesus Christ who walked with Him, who was there at His crucifixion, who has remained loyal to Christ all these years, not going to listen. Not going to listen to what you have to say. "Therefore, if I come," John says, "I'll call to mind his deeds, which he does, praying against us with malicious words, and not content with that, he himself doesn't receive the brethren and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the Church." And then he says, "Beloved, don't imitate what is evil, imitate what is good."

Well, Diotrephes, you know, I have no idea if he was an elder in the Church before that or just a member who all of a sudden had his own little idea and thought he had all the answers to everything. But apparently it just continued to to just go unchecked or he refused to listen. His affection was getting the better of him. It's me. That's my idea. That's what I do. This is what I should be doing. And hey, I don't really want to listen to what God has said, or John, I don't want to listen to what you have to say. And you see some points in here that we need to look at ourselves in. Because there's four or five things in here that we see in a pattern of someone who is going down that road. And we can help if we see people going down that road. First of all, there's the arrogance and the pride that Diotrephes was beginning to show. I know more than you. I know more than you, John. I know more than the Bible, John. So, you know, don't need to listen to you. Pride is the instigator of every sin there is. Satan is the father of pride. Satan is the father of all the things that are evil. Pride. And as we go to, and it can show up in so many different ways in our lives, one of the things we need to check ourselves in, is their pride or am I demonstrating pride to God by how I am living my life and the choices I make? Diotrephes didn't see it. And pride is one of those kind of little things that we can just be blind to.

We have to have others sometime tell us, this iswhat you might want to look at. All too often, though, then there is no response at all, and it leads towhat comes next, they won't even talk to you. I remember one of the things that just frustrated me and made me really sad when I was pastoring is when people would come for a while and you think that they're there, but then they would just stop coming. And week after week after week, they wouldn't be there. And they would not even talk. I would even plead with them. I would send emails saying, "I'm not even going to try to talk you into coming back. I just want to understand what it is. What it is. What happened? Why were you here this time? Why did it look like you were doing that?" And they would not call. They just wouldn't even receive. And I thought, just tell me why. And I really meant it that I wouldn't try to talk them into it. I'd look at the Bible again, no doubt, but let them go on their way, because I just wanted to know, was there something we're missing? Is there something that isn't being taught? But I knew it was something in their lives that was going on. And they just, nope, not doing it anymore. Wouldn't even receive, wouldn't even talk to you.

Malicious words. You know, some, not all. I don't know the people that were there that I've mentioned have ever spoke a malicious word against the Church. They just gave up. But sometimes you see someone who leaves the Church and there are malicious words. That's happened in the Church. That's happened in not too distant Church history back a decade or more ago where people fell into the same thing that Diotrephes did. And they left, and they wouldn't talk, and they spoke malicious words, and there was this battle between the two,and out they went. Very sad to see that happen. But Paul told us that would happen. God inspired him and said, "This is what's going to happen in the Church." Keep your finger 3 John.

Let's go back to Acts 20. This is what's going to happen, not just among the ministry, it happens with every member. We could all be susceptible to it if we're not watching what we're doing, what we're thinking, how we're reacting to situations that may confront us because Satan will use whatever he can to take us away, he will use whatever he can to create doubt, to separate it, to divide us. Separations, accusations, divisions, none of those are tactics of God or traits of God. They are all traits of Satan, and as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2, we should be well aware of his tactics. When we see it and we see it in ourselves, we better repent, we better get down and ask God to forgive us as in Acts 20.

Acts 20:29 "I know this," Paul said, "after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you not sparing the flock."

Well, they're coming in. You know, I think we're very good if someone comes in of taking a stand against them and not believing false doctrine. If someone came in and started talking to us, we would stand, I hope, against this. But more dangerous is verse 30.

Acts 20:30 "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things."

Speaking perverse, better translation as it says down in my margin, misleading things. Speaking misleading things. For what purpose? To draw away the disciples after themselves. It's all about pride. I want them to follow me. I want to be the one that people will follow. Very dangerous thing. As I said, we've seen it happen at the Church. Paul was absolutely right as God gave him that. It's happened through the Church, down through the history of the Church. In our not to even distant past, we had it happen in, you know, one of our areas not in the United States. The same thing and the same pattern. Oh, we're not unaware of Satan's devices. Sometimes we want to just cover them up, ignore them and say, maybe not this time. Well, he was there, malicious words, speaking against others. There's not a person listening that would think that is of God, right? That's not at all when we see that. Putting them out of the Church. Don't even want you there. We'd like to see you gone, much the way that the Pharisees wanted Jesus Christ gone. Don't want you here.

And then the divisive, the divisive attitude that's there. There to separate people. At a time in life, at a time as we look at Passover when Jesus Christ said, "My will is that you all come together as one." All together as one. Reconciliation, acknowledge mistakes, repent, get together. Christ even said in Matthew 5:23.

Matthew 5:23 "If you're coming to the altar and you know your brother has something against you, go and be reconciled to them as we go toward Passover."

And we keep it in the worthy manner that God would like us to doing those things and not the opposite. If there's anything...I often say this, if anyone has anything against me, if I've done something, offended someone, something you think that I'm not doing right, or you just heard something that you don't understand, I hope you will come to me. Don't give the silent treatment. That's what Diotrephes did.

That's what happens. Talk. Talk and don't just be silent and go away. Talk. I think every minister in the Church of God, if there's something, go and talk about it and be reconciled. And be honest about the things that are going on that you are thinking of. This is what Church of God people do as we become one. Letting God prepare us to be the bride who will be one with Jesus Christ. And if we want to be His bride and be there when He returns, now is the time to do it, now's the time to learn it and practice it because if we're not one in this lifetime, I don't know. No, no, I do know what God will say about us at that time.

Well, I could...well, let's do turn back to...yeah, let's turn back real quickly to 2 Timothy and...2 Timothy 2. Just because Paul, as he's teaching a young minister there, he does some things that he tells him. In verse 17 of 2 Timothy 2, you see, you know, him talking about Hymanaeus and Philetus. 2 Timothy 2:17 They left the Church and he says, "Their message will spread like cancer." But it's a deadly spreading. It's not spreading the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. It's spreading a message that will lead to death. It's a disease and an illness. But then in verse 24, Paul tells him something, you know you're gonna run into these situations, Timothy. This happens.

2 Timothy 2:24 Says, "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility, correcting those who are in opposition."

Correcting them because we have a duty to help people stay on the right path. Not just ministers, but you as you see your friends doing some things that might bear some discussion as well, not just accepting it and tolerating it, but in gentleness saying, why are you doing that, or do you know that's not of God?

2 Timothy 2:25 "In humility, consider correcting those who are in opposition if God perhaps will grant them repentance so that they may know the truth and that they may come to their senses."

Isn't that interesting? That they may come to their senses. That they may remember who they are, what they were called for, what it is that they committed to God back at the time that they heard the word, received, repented, were baptized and received the Holy Spirit, that they might remember what their calling was because somewhere along the line that's become blurred. So as we look at ourselves honestly before Passover, as we even ask God, search my heart, is there anything in me that needs to be corrected? Is there any motive in my heart or mind that is inappropriate, that is against what your will is? And listen to what He has to say. Listen to what is going on. Listen. God will show you if you ask sincerely. But don't restrict what He says by your affections. No, no, that can't be it. That's okay. I'm not really doing that. No, if God shows you something, you really are probably having to look at self and change attitudes, change loyalties, change affections so that the affection is with God.

Remember, you know, as we head toward Passover, remember, when we were baptized, we became a new creation, brand new in God's eyes. All the past was gone. Whoever we were before, we said we don't want that anymore. We want you, God, to build in us with the goal of purity. 1 John 3, right? Purity, not being tainted with the ways of the world, not being tainted with the affections or sins that can so easily beset us, not holding grudges, not getting bitter against people, not wearing something on our sleeve for so long because it is very dangerous, all those things we talked about. Let's go to Hebrews 12. Hebrews 12:15. Let me read verse 14, always a good verse for us to remember.

Hebrews 12:14-15 "Pursue peace with all people and holiness." It's a state of purification. "Pursue peace with all people and holiness without which no one will see the Eternal, without which no one will see the Lord. Looking carefully..." Whenever I say the word carefully, I pay attention even more. "Looking carefully, lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many, by this many become defiled." Not just a few, many.

You know, a good example of someone who was willing to take a rebuke and not leave the Church was Peter. Remember back in Matthew 16, right after Jesus Christ talked about beginning the Church, and He told Peter, "You're that little rock." The Church is going to be built on Jesus Christ the rock. You're the little rock. But then Petermade a comment that, "Oh no, no, no, you're not going to die. You're not going to die." Remember that? And Jesus Christ turned to him and said, "Get behind me, Satan." If you were Peter, you'd be like, "What? 'Get behind me, Satan?' All I said is I didn't want you to die. That's not gonna happen to you." Peter could have thought...and he probably did it in front of all the other disciples, they all gathered together, they walked together as a group. Peter could have gotten bitter and said, "How did you say that? Why did you say that to me in front of everyone? What did you mean by that? I had purity of heart," in his mind.

But he continued on. He listened. He paid attention. He examined. And he continued with Christ. He didn't walk away. And thought, yes, it is God's will, not mine. Whatever He has purpose, that is what I will support. It may not be what I want, but it will be what I do. And whatever God says, that's what we support. And wherever He leads, that's where He goes in our personal lives and as a Church as well. Rebukes can be a tough thing. Rebukes can be a tough thing for people to take or a change in this or a change in that. But we always have to remember, it's God who is perfecting us. He puts us in situations, whatever we need, so that we become the pure, perfect people who He can trust for eternity, that will be dedicated to His word, love the truth, always stand by the truth, be willing to follow Him, and be completely loyal to Him and, as Jesus Christ said on that last night, will be at one with one another. That unity, filling the commission of the Church that the Church does today, but also building that unity. And with that unity comes humility and accepting that whatever God's will is, that's what we do and cast out all the works of men, all the attitudes, all the affections that we have that are not congruous with the Word of God or the way of God.

So let's go back and close in 2 Corinthians 7. I read through Chapter 6. In verses 1 and 2, after Paul has said all these things that we've spent the last hour talking about, he concludes in verses 1 and 2 of Chapter 7. He says, "Therefore..." after all these things I just said about don't let your affections restrict you, don't let it shut you off from the Kingdom of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1-2 "Therefore, having these promises, what God has given us, I hope we believe with all our heart, mind, and soul." Christ will return. He will usher in that Kingdom. He does want us there. His will is for us to be there, but we have to yield to Him. "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Open your hearts," he says in verse 2. "Open your hearts to God. Open your hearts to the Spirit that will lead you."

Open your hearts and let's individually and collectively as a Church, let's be aware of those affections that might restrict us and put those away and put our affections wholly and completely on God.