We have to remove sin. We need to take action and leave the areas of our lives that are offensive to God. We are given such a great and precious promise so that we can escape all the lust and the evil of this world and ultimately inherit the precious divine character of God Himself.
Good afternoon everyone. This afternoon as we come to the final conclusion of the Days of Unleavened Bread, we want to address one final area that has great importance to all of us, because the scripture is constantly giving us the mind of God, as opposed to how human minds think. Isaiah 55 talks about that, that "your thoughts are not My thoughts, your ways are not My ways." So we're coming to learn how God thinks, we're coming to learn what His ways are all about and one of the most important things about the Days of Unleavened Bread that are now wrapping up in their seven day observance in the United Church of God, is this: that we learn the impact of these days but the lesson goes on throughout the year. It doesn't stop here at the conclusion of this sun setting this evening on the seventh day of Unleavened Bread; it will go on for all your lifetime. This is a very important message that the scripture talks about because what we are in essence a quest for, or what we are called to be a partaker, handpicked by God at this time, to be given the opportunity to be His first fruits in His great plan of salvation is summarized in this area, that God is desiring to grant us the opportunity to pursue His holiness. To pursue His holiness, to become like Him and Jesus Christ in beautiful holiness of character, righteous character as God displays it. Now humanly speaking, we don't have that of and by ourselves. It is something that the bible talks about in a beautiful beautiful picture in terms of how God purposes to bring this to pass and He does it by and through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. This now becomes a focal point for us because as we study the scriptures we're going to begin to see certain things jump off the page at us with regard to what our responsibilities are as men and women, young and old. We are told very plainly that we are to be over comers as Jesus overcame. Now Jesus did not have the flesh in the sense to fight in terms of sin, although the sin of the world impacted on Him just as much as it would on us, He was tempted in every point like us except without sin. We have a very serious responsibility in our response to what God has outlined in the scriptures because today we want to talk about a very important aspect of what the Days of Unleavened Bread constantly emphasis and where we go from here as these days conclude and that is this:
We are going to talk about mortification. You say, What in the world is mortification? It means putting to death sin, and that's what we're going to talk about today, that's the title of the message, "Mortification: Putting Sin to Death." To really pursue holiness, as the bible addresses, you and I are required by scripture to take action. It's very important that we understand that. We cannot be indifferent or as we say, lackadaisical about our response to what the bible addresses on this subject. We are in an absolute situation where we must reach out and pursue holiness on a day-to-day basis and if we don't, then we fall back into the old rut, into the old habit, into the old ways. Now this is very important, we know that as ancient Israel came out of physical Egypt and were delivered by the hand of God miraculously, so spiritually-speaking we have come out of our counterpart to that as the New Testament Church, we've come out of this world, spiritual Egypt and we have now got to take action, just like the Israelites. After they were delivered and the death angel passed over, they had to gather up and then they had to leave Egypt.
In the same way, you and I have to take action and leave the areas that are offensive to God in our life and begin to pursue holiness, which is the divine nature and this is why we are given such great and precious promises that we can escape all the lust and the evil of this world and ultimately inherit the precious divine character of God Himself and come into an eternal intimate relationship with Him and Jesus Christ that is just absolutely beyond words to describe, but we get a glimpse of that as outlined in the pages of the scripture.
Now to really pursue this, as I say, it requires something of us, an action that is taken must not be on our own physical strength. Any action that is taken must be taken under the umbrella and the power of the direction of the holy spirit, because without the holy spirit guiding and directing in our lives, then all we are doing is we are going through the motions on our own physical strength which would last for awhile but then sooner or later would cave in and collapse, because again, humanly speaking we cannot do what is required of us. We are told in the scripture we are saved by grace through faith and not of yourselves. But we are required, in this sense of the word, to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and knowing that it is God who works in and through us, miraculously to accomplish His will and purpose in our lives. We all have a great destiny as men and women, that destiny can only be fulfilled with the addition of God's holy spirit working in our lives, first with us in a pre-conversion stage and then ultimately, in us when we become converted men and women in the Church of God, that spiritual body of the Church of God.
Now when we stop and realize the significance of this, then this brings us as we see at the close of this festival, we get ready to gear up for the next festival, which actually shows us and reveals to us where the power comes from to help us overcome, to help us in our taking positive action in what is necessary for spiritual growth and overcoming. It's very very important that we don't rely on our own strength. All too often we do dear brethren, all too often we slip from time to time, sometimes we rely on God, other times we lean to our own understanding and that's not good and God, out of His kindness and love, He brings that to our attention and He expects us to make changes, to take positive action, and with the help of His spirit, get rid of those things that God says, Uh, uh, this is a no-no, I don't want this, this is not going to help you, it's going to hinder you. Please remember something that I've been stressing through past messages up to this time, that one of the key things that you're going to find in the scripture is this: #1 - Satan is called the tempter and remember, in his efforts to tempt every man and women, it is for the purpose to destroy and to bring you down. When God is spoken of in the scriptures, He always does what? He will test us, He will test our faith to see if it is genuine, whether we really do hunger and desire this intimate relationship with Him and Christ. But He will test us always to bring the best out of us, never to our hurt, but in this process it is important to take note of this; it is painful and effective discipline that is needed for rooting out sin in our lives. We have to recognize that it will be painful to have to give up certain things that we have hung on to in our own personal life and what we have to recognize is that it takes discipline, with God's help to put these things, as the bible would say, put them to death, to finally terminate them and stop them once and for all from having an effect on us.
The world today is literally engulfed in addictions and problems and sinful behavior, as the bible would use the term, human beings have fallen into the depths of Satan, they are literally swimming with all kinds of problems and difficulties because they have not taken the positive action that the scripture admonishes any human being who wants to get his or her life on the right track. And what has happened as a result of that, people have allowed elements and things to overpower them instead of being the over comer they are now being overcome. And so it is destroying them and they are falling under the influence of Satan's temptations and giving in to it and then they say, Well I can't, I can't – when in reality they're saying, I won't, I won't, I'm enjoying what I'm doing, that's why I shoot up, that's why I take the crack, that's why I take the excess alcohol, that's why I become sexually immoral, that's why I do all these things, because I like it! Now I might say, I don't want to or I can't help it, but that's not going to cut it because God says, Look, you took action to go that direction, now I want you to reverse the equation and with the help of My spirit, I want you to go in the opposite direction and say no to these things and put them to death. That's the way the world is living and they're not changing. You and I have been called out of this world at this time so that we could implement, with God's spirit, the change that is necessary in our lives, so that we don't fall prey to these things that are falling upon the world we live in and we certainly are blessed for so doing, because these holy days remind us of the joyful blessing of what it means to come out of all of this and not to be burdened down with all the trauma, the frustration, the difficulties that just have engulfed people's minds to such a degree that they can't even begin to deal with what they're struggling with on a day to day basis.
So let's take a look if you will please, join me in Romans 8 this afternoon, let's take a look there first, and what we want to do is begin in v. 12. Here we're told:
Romans 8:12 Romans 8:12Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
American King James Version× – So then brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh…please note…not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh, for if you are living according to the flesh…which is just another way of saying you're just living as a physical human life and you're just going the way you want to go, with no consideration for what God has to say about your life, you just want to live it your way, or like some of the songs that have been written by it…after it's all said and done, "I did it my way." We don't want to do it our way, according to the bible; we need to do it God's way and what happens here? It says if you end up living according to the flesh, notice…you must die.
That's the end result of just living a fleshly human existence and go no higher than that. You just live like an animal life existence, you eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die. But if you reach for the spirit, if you reach for what God has purposed, and we do have that capacity and propensity as human beings, we can reach for the higher calling of God, we don't have to sink to the depths of Satan's devices because God has shown us a way to conquer that adversary and to be greatly blessed for doing so. But it says:
V. 13 - …but if by the spirit…meaning if you are willing to turn your life into a pattern whereby you will live according to the spirit, you are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, if you are doing this, working to put those deeds, those actions to death…then you will live.
Now that's the blessing that God brings forth. Colossians 3. In Colossians 3:5 Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
American King James Version×notice how Paul writes to the Colossian church of God.
Colossians 3:5 Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
American King James Version× – Put to death therefore…notice, there is a literal emphasis of stopping what you're doing in your former way of living and he uses the term "mortify" which is another way of saying, "deprive of power, strip them, nip it in the bud, catch it while it's young, stop it, don't let it get a hold of you, mortify, put actions, kill it." He says…Mortify…therefore your members which are upon the earth…
And then he goes on to explain what those elements are and how our earthly nature operates as human beings. It produces sexual immorality, but see God is the author of the sexual relationship so what is he saying? He's saying, You've got to stop any element that surfaces, that tries to take you in a wrong sexual direction, you've got to remember that God is the author of sex and says how sex must be utilized and not abused. It's supposed to be used but not abused. Today the world abuses it terribly and they're running rampant with all kinds of problems. One of these commercials I've seen on television is very offensive in my mind, it shows this young man, he's smiling, he's happy, taking this particular type of so-called medication because he's got herpes, a certain type of herpes and he's got this lovely young lady on the back of the motorcycle and they're all riding like everything is happy-go-lucky, down the road, because you see, we can still have relations and I can take this medicine and even though I've got herpes, no problem, hey! Hopefully that is his wife behind there and it's not fornication going on, but anyway, if it is his wife, she deserves a clean mate, she does not need one that is already been like an alley cat running around with others and possibly going to give her an infection. So this is what God is talking about, He says, that's got to be put to death, those kind of temptations, those are Satan's temptations to come up and say, Hey, everybody's doing it, shouldn't you be doing it? You only live once. All these things tempt the mind and God says as soon as you see that, you've got to put it down.
V. 5 - Any kind of impurity, lust, evil desire or greed…he says…which in essence is covetousness, or translates to…idolatry. It comes in a way that is not right and proper.
So here we see very plainly that we have a moral obligation in our calling to work on putting to death any vestige of sin that raises its ugly head in your life, my life, or all those who are called at this time to respond to God's wonderful first fruits calling. Now, what we first must recognize in all this equation is the fact that we need to know our enemy. We need to know our enemy. I'd like to, first of all, go back a little bit in time, back in World World II, the great holocaust that cost over 50 million human lives around the world, it was one of the most terrifying times in human history. Fifty million people lost their lives, that's a guesstimation, it might have even been more for all we know, but they throw that out as a broad general figure.
Here's the interesting thing about it; after the war was over and in the European theatre of the war, when Germany surrendered, American soldiers had to go in, Allied soldiers, British, French, what have you, but our soldiers especially, in the United States, had to go in and they were issued, and some of you might remember this little book you got that was entitled "Know Your Enemy." It had a little preface in there by T.H. Teatons in which he explained to the soldiers coming in as occupation power now, that they needed to understand certain things about the German people because of the wrong influence they had been under, under Nazi socialism under Adolph Hitler. Now not all Germans fell prey to that, but a good many of them did, they went along with it and therefore when they saw soldiers coming in, to them that was the enemy. So these soldiers were told, look, here is what you need to know about this former enemy out here and handle yourself accordingly.
Well we can take and learn that same lesson with regard to our own nature that God is telling us. He says, Look, you need to know who your enemy is. What is it, Pogo who said, "We have discovered the enemy and it is us!" Our own nature is the enemy all too often in many of the problems and difficulties we struggle with. Oh yes there is an adversary and his minions, yes there is a world he has created, but we also play a part in this because we go along with this, if I may use the legal term, we are accomplices in his crimes. We have gone along, we've bought into the temptations and we went along for the ride and then everything blew up in our faces as human beings. So God has come to show us that, He said, Look, you don't want that, you don't want to live like that, do you? We said, No. We pledged our allegiance to God the Father and Jesus Christ and we, through the calling of God, came to see that we have a mission now, to put these things that were wrong in our life, to death. Never to go back there because you and I have known people who have once known these things and what have they done? They have stopped overcoming, they have stopped putting to death the things that are wrong and they have gone back to things now that they once renounced and now they're practicing these things once again, in their personal lives. Things that the scriptures say you need to stay away from, that this is not the right and proper way to carry on and function.
Well let's take a look and realize then that sin is pictured from a biblical perspective and is deeply rooted in our lives. That's why in the Days of Unleavened Bread, if we say that we have no sin, then we lie and the truth is not in us because we all have this leaven in our natures. Hopefully it's getting smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller as we keep killing it and killing it, every time it surfaces its ugly head and we see these elements come to life in our lives, we got to stop it. Why? Because what does leaven do? It changes the character and the make up of the person that is infected with the leaven. So when we allow ourselves to be infected by these things, then it's going to change us in the way we look at things. We have to look at it the way God says and to see it through His eyes or we'll never be able to truly understand what the problem is that we're dealing with. Our nature is a very powerful nature. Galatians 5:17 Galatians 5:17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
American King James Version× makes this point:
Galatians 5:17 Galatians 5:17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
American King James Version× – The flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, they are contrary one to another, so that you cannot do the things that you would.
What that basically comes to is this; that you and I have now conflicting natures in our make up. At one time we lived perfectly on the level of the flesh, we didn't know anything else, didn't care about anything else, we just were going to be self-centered, do what we wanted to do, hey, it's my life, I can do what I want. Then we began to realize, through a calling of God's mercy, that you are not your own, you are bought with a price, therefore we have to serve the living God, not ourselves. So in this process of understanding, God has given us the outline of holy days to keep us mindful of our mission, this is our mission statement, so to speak. A lot of businesses have what they call mission statements, to define what their business operation is all about. Well this is our mission statement, to put sin out of our lives, that's what these Days of Unleavened Bread remind us and constantly are called upon in our yearly remembrance so that we never lose sight of what this mission of every day life is all about. And he says, you've got contrary elements now at work; you've got your old nature at work, always there, trying to get a handle on things in your life and you now have a new nature that has been brought to bear in your life. This wonderful new nature gives us a tremendous help, it is the nature of God, through the power of His spirit that produces the character of Jesus Christ in our lives. If you'll notice with me please, let's turn to Romans 7:19-20 Romans 7:19-20  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.
American King James Version×. He says here, and this is the apostle Paul and we rank him high as a very God fearing converted man and yet notice, he had this struggle, he had this same battle. He says:
Romans 7:19 Romans 7:19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
American King James Version× – For the good that I would do, I do it not, but the evil which I would not, that's what I do. I'm kind of almost like torn here…now if I do that which I don't want to do and it is no more I, he says, that do it, but that sin that dwells in me.
What this basically is saying is that we all are struggling with a spirit of lawlessness that has been injected into our way of thought and thinking. It's in our flesh, it came from Adam and Eve's first submission to Satan's temptation and we all have gone right along just like they have ever since. We all became captured by the adversary's influence. So all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And God is now purposing to bring us back into harmony with Him and His Son Jesus Christ, through this wonderful plan of salvation but it requires action on our part.
The bible uses terms like this; "Lay hold on eternal life." You think you have eternal life, but search the scriptures, you don't know that for sure until you check it out and God expects you to move and be responsive to His guidance and direction because that's what will produce the kind of fruit that really we all want deep down inside, we all hunger for this, but we can't do it without the help of God. That's why again, to try to do these things, we listen to some of these pitchmen today, they're out there advertising all these programs talking about "release the power within you." That if you, for so many tapes and so many videos, you can learn to be the best you and you can do this and you can do that and you can climb mountains and everything. Sure you can, you can apply a lot of that stuff and it will work to a degree, on a physical level and it will work if you are a person who takes action and that's what they appeal, they say, you've got to get out there and you've got to do…and that's right but there are other elements involved that they don't tell you. They don't tell you that that is not how you conquer the problem of our nature. It does not come from within.
Jesus said, "I want you, My disciples, to go to Jerusalem, I want you to tarry there until you are imbued with power from on high." Pneuma hagion in the Greek, it means literal power in the Greek that is going to come from God's spirit that will infuse the minds of God-fearing men and women and allow them to do what they cannot do of and by themselves. That's why it's God who works in you to do and accomplish His will and good pleasure. Another way of saying it, we're all a work in progress; we're not completed yet. God is still working out many details in our lives to bring about the fulfillment of our destiny – which is what? You must enter the kingdom of God. That's our purpose for walking upon the earth. That is a wonderful purpose, as pictured from scripture.
Now, let's take a look at I Peter 2:11, lets see what Peter has to say about this. Here he admonishes us, he says:
I Pet. 2:11 – Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims…because really, we live in the world, but we're not of the world, we don't buy what the world has to offer and what it is selling. At one time we did, we enjoy the blessings of life that God has given, we appreciate the wonderful privilege to walk upon the earth God has created, we are fearfully and wondrously made to His glory and honor, but we are strangers and pilgrims, like Abraham who left Ur of the Chaldeans and went to a place where God was going to show him and he was always looking for that city and foundation whose builder was God and that's the new Jerusalem that he had in mind, so we're looking in that same direction, and he goes on to say, with that in mind, we have a responsibility to take action and…abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.
So what it is saying here, is we have to recognize, we're in a spiritual combat, like a soldier and we're going to have all kinds of things coming at us to tempt us and we've got to be willing to cut those things down, stop them with the help of God's spirit and respond to the testing of God while He brings the very best out of us, for each and every one of our own good. It's a beautiful thing that the scripture is addressing. The spirit of lawlessness is at war with us constantly, it wants us to literally be destroyed because it is energized by Satan's spirit, who is the destroyer, he wants to destroy every human being who is made in the image of God, male and female. God wants that not to be the case and so He's gone to great lengths to provide a way, as we saw during the Passover season, to provide a way of escape for you, for me and for all who will come to Jesus Christ, who are heavy laden and He will give us truly rest. And that rest will come through an understanding of His way of life and then these holy days that are designed to keep us on that straight and narrow path that leads to life. We just can't be going in all directions, we have to focus our life in the direction that God has outlined and this is what it's all about, these holy days, to keep and preserve and the way that we deal with this as spiritual soldiers is what? We've got to fight back. We're told in the bible to fight the good fight of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God and we've got to fight because if we just stand there, then we have surrendered to the enemy and God says, No, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world and you and I have to follow Christ's example and we have to reach out and conquer as over comers and to him that overcometh, the scripture tells us, I will give power to rule the nations. We'll be involved in the dynamics of God's wonderful kingdom, which is to come.
Now our objective then is to put sin to death, wherever it shows up, whatever that sin might be, wherever we are going in a wrong direction, we have to take the initiative and call upon God for His strength and His spirit, to be able to conquer and to be able to overcome it, otherwise, we're just saying, I can't, I can't and in reality we're saying, I won't. And God says, look, you have the wherewithal to make a choice. You made a choice to go that way, now you have to make a choice to go the other way and the goodness of God leads us to repentance and shows us what choice we must make. Choose life, He says, this is the way, walk you in it, this is the way that's going to bring you what you want, you won't find it going any old way. I guess that's why the song says, they're looking for love in all the wrong places, aren't they folks? When in reality, love is found in keeping God's way of life as your way of life and Jesus said, If you love Me, keep My commandments. That's how He knows and that we then begin to develop an intimacy in our relationship with Jesus Christ and with God the Father.
We have to recognize that no matter what efforts we take to try to stop the leaven that might be lurking around in our lives, as pictured by these days to remind us of this very thing, that this is a life long process dear brethren, it goes on for all our life. It's not something where you get it all tomorrow; you've got it all taken care of. This is a long ongoing process and that's why it is imperative that we recognize the spirit of lawlessness never really dies in this world. Oh it may subside in your life for a while, but given the right opportunities, it could surface up so very very fast. Remember, a little leaven leavens the whole lump. If you think you stand, take heed lest you fall, the scripture admonishes you, to walk humbly with God and to realize we're in dangerous waters here in this world and we're in a boat that could capsize very quickly unless we listen to the Commander-in-Chief who is going to bring us safely to the kingdom of God when we follow His instructions. But no matter how much we try, we're always going to find that that old nature, that sinful nature lurks in all of our lives, so don't ever be blindsided and think, "Well, I've got that taken care of." No, it's always going to be there to try to grab hold of you the moment you stop taking action. I want to emphasize that, that's very important for us to keep in mind. Please take note that the scripture affirms to all of us who are believers that we are in a position with Jesus Christ that is one of superiority – I don't know if you've ever thought of it in that way, but God is saying…that doesn't make us…not better than ourselves, he's saying that Christ has made this possible, that when we hook up with Him and are in alignment with Him, that we now are in a superior position to deal with the problem we have, but if we are not in harmony with Him, we're in a very weakened state to try and deal with this problem called sin or lawlessness in our nature.
Now I think what we need to keep in mind then is what is spoken of in Romans 6, let's take a look at Romans 6 and get a feel and an understanding here what Paul was driving at. The scripture is in essence saying that we have been given a new life in Christ Jesus, a new nature, a new heart, something totally different from what we had before and that we're going in a different direction than we would have been before, that our inner nature now delights in the laws of God where in the past we didn't even know that the laws of God had anything to say about anything. Some of us may have thought that the laws were done away because people have preached the laws of God are done away when in reality, Jesus said "heaven and earth will pass away, but My laws will not pass away." It's a dynamic spiritual law that stays in effect. So the spirit of God coming to play in everyone's life now, having an active part to play, dealt a deathblow, as pictured by Passover. When Jesus died, something happened and the power of His crucifixion then began to really set the gears in motion. Once that happened, it opened the door where no longer sin could have the dominance in our lives. Up to that point, sin was a dominating factor. Christ broke that and once that happened, now we have access to another nature, a new nature, a new heart, a new spirit and what that does, it brings us to a relationship now that gives us hope and a future to look forward to with great anticipation.
Sin, if left unchecked, brings destruction in its final essence and that's what you and I don't want to experience, we don't want to end up that way. The holy spirit working in our lives does what? It helps us to do the work God has called us to do in this life and do His good pleasure. So the battle is in the power and the strength of God's holy spirit. If human beings can do certain things on a physical level by setting their wills into a certain action – and they can, they can accomplish a lot on a physical level – a lot of people just fall away from that, they don't endure, they don't stay with it, but some are very aggressive and they stay with it and they can accomplish big things. But imagine if that's only on the physical level, for a physical corruptible crown, what happens if you add the spiritual dimension to life? If you really take action on the physical side and you really start chopping and knocking down these things here and then you cry out to God for the spiritual dimension to be added, how much more can be accomplished in the life of a man and a woman? How much more is our destiny to be fulfilled, where Jesus said, "Because I go to the Father and the holy comforter comes to you…" what's going to happen? "You're going to bear much fruit to the glory of the Father." God is looking for big dividends in our lives; He's not looking for a little payback, He's looking for big dividends. But it comes when we put our faith and our confidence in God and trust Him as it speaks here in Romans 6:1 Romans 6:1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
American King James Version×.
Romans 6:1 Romans 6:1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
American King James Version× – What shall we say then? He introduces this as a question because believe it or not there were people back in Paul's day who came up with this kind of weird thinking…and what was the weird thought that he was addressing? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
Paul is preaching the grace of God which is found in Jesus Christ. All right, that is unmerited favor, pardon, we didn't do anything, God has provided it for us, He took the initiative. But now if God is glorified in this, they're asking the question, Well why don't we sin more so that God can be praised more and give us more grace? And Paul said:
V. 2 – God forbid! Or in the Greek it's megenoitu, meaning, "be it not so." How shall we who are dead to sin…you see we no longer live to fulfill that nature, that old nature, we now want this new nature that has been brought to our attention in Christ Jesus. He says…How can we live any longer there in? Know you not that as many of us as were baptized in Jesus Christ, were baptized unto His death. There's a figurative analogy and comparison, we are fused into a very intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, His death portrays something to us and it says:
V. 4 – Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
It shouldn't be the same old same old; it should be something far greater, something so wonderful that just fires the imagination and the passions that you have. Your desires are now kindled in a new way – instead of self-centered desires, wanting illegal desires, wanting things that you shouldn't have, God says, go after the things you should have, have the legitimate desires, have the good thing, so that I can pour out My blessing upon you, because that's what He is, He's El Shadi, the Almighty Blesser. He wants to do these very things and so speaks of such in the scripture. Now moving down through the scripture, notice how it talks here:
V. 10 – For in that He died, He died unto sin once, but in that He lives, He lives unto God.
All right, you and I have died once as well, in baptism, with Jesus Christ, we're figuratively put into that configuration. Now what do we do? We do like Him, we now live unto God, we take seriously the things God has to say as opposed to what people have to say. We worry more about how God would feel rather than, "Oh I can't do that because so and so might be hurt." We're worrying about people's feelings, what about God's feelings? We don't want to go out and just hurt people in any way, shape or form, that's not the purpose. The purpose is not to be handicap by feelings on a human level when we should be concerned about feelings on a spiritual level. That spiritual level has dominance and precludes everything in the physical realm of our everyday life. That's what we've been called to be a part of and he goes on to say:
V. 12 – Therefore let not sin…this spirit of lawlessness that we all have to struggle with, that Paul had to struggle with, that he had to fight, day in and day out, sometimes he won the battle, sometimes he said he didn't, that's you, that's me, dear folk, we also, some days we win the battle, some days we lose and we have to cry out to God like Paul and he said, but this admonition is…let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. In other words, the desires that are self-centered as opposed to desires that are outgoing for the welfare of others as well as yourself.
V. 13 – Neither yield you your members as instruments of unrighteousness…to do the other things that are going to cause you to sin…but yield yourself unto God as those that are alive from the dead and your members are instruments of righteousness unto God.
V. 14 – For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.
Yes, because of the gracious hand of God, you and I have been spared, we've been spared from something very terrible but it requires that we do our part. God is not going to do it all. So what I'd like to do now in the final portion of this message today, I'd like to ask this question in conjunction with mortification, putting sin to death, how do we put sin to death? We need to know. I'd like to touch on four very vital components, there are more, but I'm targeting four components that will be helpful for you, for me, for anyone who truly wants to put sin to death in their life. All right…the first one:
1. We must – and I'd like to put the emphasis on we must – we must pursue and grow in our relationship with God. And I would say most of all, with Jesus Christ our Savior, because you can never get to God the Father except through Christ, He is the way. So that relationship has got to be pursued, it's got to be important.
You know if a young man sees a young lady in the process of the maturing factors of life and he's single and he looks at that young lady, "Wow…I like that young lady, I'd like to get to know her." And so what does he do? He begins to pursue a relationship with her and he says, "Hey, would you like to go out on a date?" She says "No." "You don't?" Well, is that it, it's over? He really likes her, he says, She turned me down this time, but I'm going to pursue it again because I really think I'd like to have a relationship with her that maybe would develop into something more. So he pursues it, tries again. This time she accepts and a relationship begins. Well we just call that the normal boy-girl relationship in the process, but it has to be pursued. Sometimes men think they're the ones doing the pursuing, but it's the ladies, they have certain things in mind too when they see a relationship and they see a man that they like and they let the man catch him, that's how it sometimes goes and they let the man think he's the one that did it, but they had a part to play in it as well. But what you see is that a relationship, to develop, must be pursued and in this particular case, spiritually speaking, we must pursue and grow in our relationship with Christ. Now that means this in essence – you and I have got to nourish and feed this relationship, just like a fellow and a girl, if they don't feed that relationship with attention to one another, they pick up the phone, call one another, you know usually when they're first starting out they do what? They're talking all the time, they get on the phone and they talk and a lot of times parents will say, Are you still on the phone with that guy or that girl? Yeah! They can talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Then when they get married they don't talk anymore and then they have marital problems because you see, you've got to talk, you've got to communicate.
The same way with God, we've got to talk, talk, talk to Him and we've got to develop a relationship that nourishes and feeds and get our minds off of those desires that feed the flesh. We've got lots of those, we've got lots of things that we would like to feed concerning the flesh and God is telling us, no, you've got to refocus your thoughts, you've got to make sure that you don't allow this leaven to get back in control of your heart. That's what Jesus meant when He said your love has to focus on God and you can't be involved with father, mother, husband, wife, children…yes, even your own wife also. In other words, if you get involved and you put anything else on a par, that relationship can't develop properly, is what Jesus is saying. You've got to put God first and foremost and pursue Him – you have to pursue Him and go after Him. Jesus used this term in Matthew 5:6 Matthew 5:6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
American King James Version×, I'll just reference it as a scripture, but He says, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. That shows an essence of pursuing. You know if you're hungry, what do you do? Well you pursue food, wherever it can be found, you're going to find something to eat because your stomach keeps telling you, I'm hungry. If you're thirsty, you're going to pursue, Where is the first water fountain, where can I get something to drink? Because you're thirsty. Well in the same way God is saying, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst…for what? For righteousness…that's God's commandment, His way of life, that means we have to pursue that, just like we would if we wanted to go for physical food or physical drink and that's what we need to sustain ourselves, the same holds true spiritually speaking.
How do we feed this new nature? That's what the bible is all about – we have to study that word of God because it feeds the spirit within us, the spirit in man that God has given to each man and woman – and we have to worship God, that's why we're here today because it brings us in harmony with God and all that He represents. These are His festivals, His feasts and it so describes them as such in the book of Leviticus 23. Then what we have to do is we have to practice a life of obedience to those commands as best as we can. We won't do it perfectly and we will stumble and falter, but we've got to get right back up and walk on that straight and narrow path that leads to life. That shows again, that "If you love Me, keep…obey." God gives His spirit only to those that obey Him, that want to pursue this kind of a relationship. Then we have to work at all the qualities that the bible says represent that way. What is that way? To do good unto one another, don't lie, the love of the brethren, let the spirit of God shed abroad in your heart bring the love of God to bear so that you do good things because this is what you were intended to do, to produce good fruit in your life, not to produce bad fruit and your actions are what go down on the record showing what is that you want to do – do you want to live this way, do you want to live that way? You have the choice; the choice has always been ours as individuals by the grace of God. But wherever we find sin, if we pursue in a relationship with God, we must, by the word of God, destroy any vestige of leaven or sin that we find working in our lives, whatever it may be, you fill in the missing point or the missing blank. Whatever it is, we all have things we struggle with from time to time, whatever that weakness is, we've got to recognize it and ask God for guidance and help because we want to rid ourselves of that which would destroy us. That's what God is telling us. A second vital and important component and the only way I can put it is in this connotation:
2. We need to be ruthless. Ruthless you say? Yes! Ruthless in starving sin and whatever feeds it. You can't be haphazard in this; you can't be kind of well maybe today, but not tomorrow.
Every day you've got to know – if my trouble is that I let things come flying out of my mouth that shouldn't be, I've got to clip that tongue, I've got to learn to get it under control because the scripture says that tongue has the power of life and death and I don't want to use it in a way that is going to produce death. Now you say, how is that? That happens every day; people kill relationships with one another because they say things to hurt one another. We live in a world today that is called a put-down world, people don't encourage one another. We are, as saints of God, told to encourage one another, to exhort one another positively, not to try to always put one another down, that's what the world is around us. So we set an example of God's way of life and He tells us very plainly that to expect God to kill…please listen carefully…to expect God to kill whatever the lust is that you and I might be struggling with that surfaces maybe from time to time, if it surfaces and we want God to kill it, but we expose ourselves to that temptation, we are crazy! There's an old country song years ago, Hank Locklin sang it, you've heard me reference it from time to time, it says it all, "Please help me I'm falling, and it would be sinful the door to temptation, don't let me walk in." Now how do they know its temptation? They know, we all know! We've all got the same kind of nature and if we allow ourselves to get caught in that kind of situation, it can happen. Look at King David and all these examples of the bible. God forgave this wonderful King David, he's going to be a king in the kingdom of God but here was a king who got so carried away, he got a little bit away from God and forgot what he needed to do and one day he started looking where he shouldn't have been looking and Satan says, Keep on looking, she's pretty isn't she? Well yeah, I'd like to get to know and have a relationship with her, but she's another mans wife. Well what difference does that make? Well I'm the king, go get her, fetch her for me. Exposed himself to temptation and what does Satan do when you expose yourself to temptation? He pulls you down and destroys you and David's life became a nightmare. From the joyous little shepherd boy who became king of Israel, who killed the mighty Goliath, who became the buzzword of Israel, "Saul has killed his thousands, David has killed ten thousands." He's a mighty warrior, God is with him! Then what happened? David, I'd have given you anything you asked for, why did you go after another man's wife? She did not belong to you and then you compounded it with murder on top of that? All that's there in the bible for our learning, to show us how destruction can come upon the lives of a person if we ever think sin cannot get a hold of us. It can grab you at a time you think not, if we expose ourselves to that.
The bible is saying, Look, I knew you, God says, and I know that you have a disturbing tendency as human beings, what you like to do is you like to flirt with temptation, even trying to gratify your sinful desire without sinning. It's a strange dichotomy. You don't want to step over the line and sin because you're smart enough to do that, but you sure would like to get up and take a peek, can I get close to it? Kind of get the feel of what it's like? We're all that way if we're not careful, we can get real close to it but then we think, Well I hadn't gone all the way there and done that bad thing I was thinking about or contemplating so therefore, I'm OK…no, we're not OK, we've got ugly leaven beginning to bubble and boil and our character is being infected and we don't have the wit to see it happening. That's why God says in I Cor. 11 on Passover night, If we would discern ourselves, if we are constantly sensitive to these things and look and say, Whoa, look, wait a second, this isn't right, I'm going in a wrong direction here, back away, back away.
See then we can call on God for help and He'll be there. But if we go up to it and we want to play with the temptation and then say, Oh God please help me, I'm falling…and God says, Yeah, you are, you're headed right down the tubes, just like I knew you would if you gave into that stuff, you've got to take action as God decrees. And you have to have that desire, that's why it has to be ruthless in your desire; you don't want to feed the lustful desires of the flesh. What steps do you do to stop? Notice what it says in I John 2, it gives us an insight here in verse 15.
I John 2:15 John 2:15And when he had made a whip of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
American King James Version× – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
You see, the relationship has been contaminated. The world is getting in the way of something that should be between God and the individual and now all these things, the love for all these things in the world are getting in the way of that relationship and God is telling us, hey, things are fine and good, use them the way God intended, but don't abuse them, don't make them gods, don't worship these things. You hear commercials on the television from time to time saying, Don't you just worship that car and the wheels…you know, it's the way they use these terminologies. They even use biblical expressions and it's a flaunting of sin. Well the bottom line, we need to understand then is that the pride of life, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, pride of life all works against you. That brings us then to the third point.
3. Confession and repentance. We have to be sensitive to our sins as individuals because it says if we say we have no sin, then the truth is not in us.
We have to discipline our self with the help of God's spirit, confess and repent as soon as we know something is not right. Don't wait you know until the woods are on fire. As soon as we smell the smoke we run, we run to God as fast as we can go. We go in the opposite direction, we follow those examples. If you want to know a good way of repentance, a psalm of repentance, it's found in David's own writings, his heartfelt rendering before God, Psalm 51, it says it all. Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version×tells us that the goodness of God leads us to repentance. Today unfortunately we have what in many people's lives is incomplete repentance, they're sorry when they're caught in the act of wrong but they don't change, they're just sorry, then they cry and they worry about the fear of punishment and guilt rather than calling out to God and asking God to help them forsake the wrong desire that they now have. We now come to the last point and I want to stress this one very strongly in conclusion.
4. We must pray. It is vital to our spiritual well being.
Do not underestimate this vital source of spiritual strength and health. It was given for our edification, for our benefit, we are told that in James 4:2 James 4:2You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.
American King James Version×we have not because we ask not. We're told in Hebrews 4:16 Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
American King James Version×that we are to come boldly before the throne of grace to receive help in time of need when you're struggling. Go to God through Jesus Christ, that's what He's there for, He wants us to come to Him. We're told in Matthew 26:4 Matthew 26:4And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him.
American King James Version×that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and Jesus had told His own disciples, Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. Because if we're not watching and we're not praying, we will enter into temptation. The last and important area here is Luke 21:36 Luke 21:36Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
American King James Version×where Jesus said, Watch and pray that you may be accounted worthy to escape calamities that are yet coming. It is vital for our well being in the day and age in which we live.
I would like to just submit in closing, that as these days of Unleavened Bread come to their end, Colossians 3:1-10 Colossians 3:1-10  If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
 For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.
 Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
 For which things' sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience:
 In the which you also walked some time, when you lived in them.
 But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
 Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds;
 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
American King James Version×make it very plain that again, we must mortify the deeds of the flesh and live to the spirit. Sin is not to have dominion over us and that is the great lesson of the Days of Unleavened Bread, that God wants you, me or anyone who has ear to hear, to listen, that the battle goes on, but God is with us and this wonderful festival tells us that ultimate victory is ours in Jesus Christ. We will conquer sin through Christ, we have nothing to fear but we have much to overcome.