“Urges…and how to overcome them!”
Promise #3: My stamp of approval is on your life!
Jerry Headon - Sam Bish - Team Africa invite
Speaking of Africa - when our team was in Zimbabwe we led a Leadership seminar. One for women and one for men! The purpose of these seminars was to primarily create dialogue. Two testimonies were given at the beginning. One by John McGuire and another by a woman named Tammy Case. These testimonies sparked serious conversation. One man stood up and started to speak. His voice begins to get louder and louder. His actions become more animated. I can’t understand a word he’s saying, but by his tone he means business. Steve Palmer and I look at each other and then Steve asks one of the Africa ministers, Edwin Magwidi, what’s he saying? And Edwin says, “Well, it really comes down to this. He’s telling the men to stop staring at each other’s wives and to start staring at their own wives.” Did you catch that? Stop staring at someone else’s wife and start staring at your own wife! My goal here this morning is not to make women paranoid OR to scold men, but scripture shows us that “desiring what is forbidden”[i] isn’t just an African problem. Lust is a universal problem. How in the world can we overcome the urge to “desire that which is forbidden?” Today is the 3rd week of our Urges series! I asked Lorien Boyer to find a set of eyes that would communicate urges. Frankly these eyes give me the “heebie geebies!” My son Sam said those eyes basically give him the creeps. I would agree and I think visually they describe the word “desire” used by Peter. Turn in your Bibles to 2 Peter 1: Do you need a Bible today? Peter writes his first letter because Christians are being persecuted and he wants to encourage them and us to remain faithful no matter what. He writes 2 Peter to encourage them and us again – just because someone is saying something about Jesus does not necessarily make it true! Compare their words with the Word of God. Peter said it this way. Drop down to verse 16 in 2 Peter 1. (16-21) Make sure what is being said at the moment agrees with what the HS has already said in the past! Jesus keeps his promises! He promised that he will return and one day Jesus will return. He also promised us that we can indeed overcome the urges and desires that come our way! Now find verses 3& 4 in 2 Peter 1. The word for “desire” here is the word epithumia- ep·ee·thoo·mee·ah which means “craving, lust – a longing for what is forbidden!”[ii] Here’s a practical question – how am I supposed to overcome that which is forbidden? How am I supposed to not do what my body so much wants to do? Peter’s answer is clear – claim the promises of God. Do you remember Promise #1? My strength will be your strength! I doubt your name is Gus but let’s hop on the bus and take a mini tour of 1st Peter. Let’s start at the beginning turn to 1 Peter 1:3. (Read 3-5a) This power that shields us is the very power that strengthens us! We are stronger than what we think we are! The Holy Spirit will give you strength “to say no to the forbidden, to walk away, or to speak up.” THIS happens when we make a willful choice to participate in the divine nature by keeping in step with the spirit each and every day! And that’s not all. There’s a second promise. My wisdom will make you wise! Are you still in 1 Peter? Find verse 14. Just what is ignorance? Ignorance is the lack of knowledge, but ignorance in the Bible is more than just a lack of knowledge- it’s a “lack of knowledge concerning divine things.”[iii] The truth is people are often not sure what’s true about Jesus and what’s not.
Did you know that the editors of the Oxford Junior Dictionary had to cut some words to add some words? Citing space restraints and a desire to reflect Britain’s modern, multi-cultural and multi-faith society the team cut these words – bishop, coronation, empire, monarch, nun and sin. They added words like blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail and celebrity! We take out sin only to add celebrity! A celebrity is a famous person. What celebrity comes to mind? Owen Wilson, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Oprah? Oprah put Eckhart Tolle on the celebrity author map. Eckhart Tolle said in his book, A New Earth, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” Your conscious does not need to evolve. Don’t let your conscious be your guide. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide. You and I are being encouraged to constantly look deep within. Look within yourself. You’ll find the answer there. Wrong. Jesus said to look beyond ourselves. To come to him when we are weary; to come to him when we long to do what’s forbidden. To saturate our minds with his word and when we do we find his wisdom makes us wise! You are smarter than 5th grader. OK, when it comes to sheer facts that’s debatable. But we are smarter than what we think you are. Why? Because God’s wisdom when applied will make you wise! That’s not all. There is a 3rd promise from God that will enable us to overcome the forbidden in our lives. This promise is profoundly cool. My stamp of approval is on your life! God’s stamp of approval is on your life! Find 1 Peter 2:11. This is the 3rd time Peter refers to evil desires. (Read 2:11) People often ignore warning signs. So manufacturers are now turning to sarcasm and threats to get their message across. Look at these signs.[iv] Did you see Peter’s warning? He’s not being funny. There’s no sarcasm. He’s being sincere. “Dear friends, these urges – these forbidden longings will war against your soul. So choose to trust in God’s promises to overcome any urge or temptation. You have received God’s stamp of approval! Look at how we are being described.” Drop down to verse 9. Peter is writing primarily to 1st century Jewish Christians. Jews who became Christ followers. God chose to use a people group to bring about his good purposes. God choose to reveal himself to the world through a group of people known as the children of Israel, or the Hebrews or the Jews. And Jews are described as chosen, royal, priestly, holy, those who belong to God, lights of the world, mercy receivers, friends, aliens and strangers. Now what words Peter used to describe the Jews he also uses to describe us – point to yourself and say with me – I am chosen. I am royalty. I am priestly. I am holy. I belong to God. I am the light of the world. I am a mercy receiver and a mercy giver. I am God’s friend. I am an alien and a stranger. I will not make the temporary my priority. What’s eternal is what counts!
You may not think this. You may think it’s just the opposite, but God’ crazy about you! You either have or God wants you to have his stamp of approval on your life and the seal of his spirit in your heart. How do you receive that? By choosing to trust God’s one and only Son. To put your faith in Jesus and to love him. Why would God create us and save us only to leave us helpless and hopeless to fight off forbidden longings which war against our soul? He didn’t. Turn to Matthew 22:16. I don’t like round about compliments and I imagine Jesus didn’t either. But he received a bunch. (Read 16) This life is all about who we are. Look at my credentials. Look at my portfolio. Look at my title. The problem is not in who we are the problem all along is that we don’t realize who’s we are. You are God’s child – his treasured possession. We belong to God. God is our creator and Jesus is our Lord. We are significant because God says we are.
“Great Greg. Beautiful. I am significant to God. I have his stamp of approval, but how does that help me stop staring at other men’s wives!” How does that help me overcome lust or any forbidden longing?” Don’t underestimate the power of significance. People are searching for it in all the wrong places. If you believe that you are an insignificant little speck that sucks air, eats food and takes up space you won’t care. “Urges? I have a million. I don’t care about them. I just give into them. I mean after all life is “eat, drink and be merry which means have sex, right!” OR I am the product of a divine creator who cares about my life from start to finish! He wants me to be like him. Life is not about me but about him and his purposes. Go back to 1 Peter 1:14-16. Don’t get holiness confused with perfection. God has set himself apart from sin! He commands us to do the same.
CBS Sportscaster Jim Nantz was in the news. He and his wife Lorrie were granted a divorce this past week after 26 years of marriage. Nantz will now pay his wife $916,000 per year in alimony and child support plus the rights to their home in Connecticut. Judge Howard Owens concluded that neither was at fault in their marriage breakdown. How is nobody at fault? Somebody played a part in this. Somebody became selfish. Somebody ignored personal responsibility. That’s how sin works. I mean why be holy? Turn to 1 Peter 2:12. Because people are dying to see true significance lived out right before their eyes. They want to see mercy. They want to see forgiveness. A life lived for God might totally turn their life around. A minister named Randy Gariss received a note from a second grader. The note said, “Dear Mr. Gariss, we are so glad you are our preacher. The inside said, “And never forget that we are paying for you!” One missing letter changes the whole message. Satan has messed up God’s message to you! You are significant. You are valuable and we belong to God.
[i] Logos Bible Software, 2 Peter 1:4, Strong’s Enhance Dictionary, Desire
[ii] Logos Bible Software, 2 Peter 1:4, Strong’s Enhance Dictionary, Desire
[iii] Logos Bible Software, 1 Peter 1:14, Strong’s Enhance Dictionary, Ignorance