Title: RISKING UNVEILING OUR TRUE CONDITION
Text: 2 Cor. 3:7-18
Welcome to the House of the Lord…this place where we all come to hear from God, and needing His touch to empower us for the things we face. I, too, come seeking this One we call Heavenly Father. Let’s invite Him to make a special visit today. Pray.
We are in a series on “Living Your Purpose With Power.” Last week Bruce shared “Five unmistakable marks of the power of an authentic Christian.” Thank you, Bruce.
Some of us may not understand what it means to access God’s power, or how to. Others may have accessed His power some time ago, but have gone back to trying to do things on your own power. If that’s you, you’re not alone…in fact, Paul addressed the issue 1,900 years ago, and Moses had the same problem 1,500 years before Paul. I’m going to address that and then ask you to consider doing something risky…unveiling our true condition so the power of God can transform us into His image. Read Text.
Life by the Spirit or life by the flesh…that’s our daily battle, isn’t it? How do we know when someone is living in one or the other? It’s by the fruit they bear, and how they go about producing it. But the problem is that some produce plastic, imitation fruit…and in God’s eyes, He knows when we are living in the flesh, even though we fool others.
In our text Paul makes four contrasts so we can recognize when we are trusting the flesh, or trusting the Spirit. After the showing us the four contrasts, he will call us to a point of unveiling so we can victoriously walk in the Spirit.
I. (1st contrast) Flesh or the Spirit. 3:7-8
A. The ministry of the flesh produces death. The ministry of the Spirit produces life.
B. I want to do every thing I can to stun you with this next statement, because everyone needs their eyes opened concerning it. Any time you attempt to do what the Bible tells you to do, or what God wants you to do…and you attempt it in the flesh…it’s going to produce a rotten, stinking mess!! It has the stench of death!
C. The contrast is that when you depend on everything coming from God, it produces LIFE and a beautiful aroma!
D. You see people operating in the flesh every day, because it produces frustration, weariness, fear, worry, hostility, anger, loneliness, depression and self-pity. They all lead to death. Ja. 3:15-16
E. But when you see people walking in the Spirit, their life produces love, joy, peace, friendships, fulfillment, meaning and purpose. That’s a ministry of LIFE in the Spirit!
F. The amazing thing is that we prefer temporary, fleeting pleasures instead of walking in the Spirit. We naively think we can enjoy both. But Jesus said you cannot serve both masters.
II. (2nd contrast) Stones or Hearts. 3:3
A. The law was written on stones…the Holy Spirit writes on hearts. False Christianity stresses the importance of stones, rituals, ceremonies, buildings, stained glass, and proper procedures. Authentic Christianity focuses on Christ and people.
B. Look at Jesus. He cared less about the minute regulations of the Pharisees when they stood in the way of healing people! Even the Sabbath was set aside when it stood in the way of helping someone!
C. So George, if on your way to church you see someone who is desperate and needs help, Christ would have you help them rather than leading our worship! We’ll get by without you! (Bruce?)
D. Operating out of our old life means we focus on money & programs more than people…reputations, than helping others…our status before others, than finding our standing in God!
E. A dead give-away that we are operating according to our old life is when we depend on everything coming from us…rather than everything coming from God.
III. (3rd contrast) Guilt or Freedom. 3:9
A. A sure mark that you are going back to your old way of life before Christ, is that you live with condemnation and guilt.
B. Jesus produces just the reverse in us…righteousness! Righteousness is the robe that Christ puts on our shoulders to give us right standing before the Father.
C. Walking in the Spirit keeps us from struggling with guilt and hostility. We are free to act with respect towards others.
D. But how many of us live under a sense of condemnation? You see, when you live on the basis that everything has to come from us, then you can never be certain that you have done enough! It drives Christians into sheer exhaustion, and those needing help in their ministries can’t find volunteers.
E. Concerning “frenzied activities of Christians,” someone wrote: Mary had a little lamb, ‘Twas given her to keep; but then it joined the Baptist Church, and died for lack of sleep.
F. Listen to this contrast. Rom. 8:1 To really believe that truth would leave you free to respond to the urging of the Holy Spirit, rather than doing it to win acceptance!
G. Folks, successful churches are not judged in the eyes of God on the basis of how many activities they have going. He shines down upon the ones that shepherd His sheep!
IV. (4th contrast) Faded or Glorious. 3:11-13
A. Moses met with God. That encounter produced a glorious shine on his face that people couldn’t tolerate or were frightened by it, so he wore a veil. But then it faded, and he kept wearing the veil. He didn’t want others to know the glory was gone.
B. Don’t be so tough on Moses. Let me ask if you were vibrant, excited and full of testimony for the Lord when you were first saved…but now you are an under-cover Christian? I thought so. Hiding under the cover of your veil. Enthusiasm ebbs until then next mountain-top experience.
C. We are very good at covering it up. We show up at all the events and put on that “other” face when we walk from the parking lot to the auditorium. (Illustrate)
D. Why did Moses keep the veil on his face after the glory was gone? Because Moses was afraid…afraid that the Israelites would see the glory had faded. You see, the glory was his mark of his closeness with God.
E. So he did what millions have done since…he hid his faded glory behind a veil. He didn’t let anyone see what was really going on inside.
F. People…veils are just another action of the flesh…and it still happens today! 3:14-15
G. Today we cover our failure to walk in the spirit with religious ritual. Pride veils it when we list all the Bible studies we belong to, seminars we’ve attended, etc. etc. etc. Illus. – Evangelical Veils
H. Veils today are represented in the image we project to others. We are hurting and struggling, but no one knows about it.
I. But the trouble is that if we wear our veils long enough, there’s a danger that we will actually begin to believe that we are the kind of person we want others to believe we are! That means we must maintain the appearance by the human effort of perfectionism.
J. Living with veils is tiring work! Not only is it hypocritical…it produces the deception that we aren’t really dying!
I think it’s time we removed the veils. We ALL tend to fear rejection if we are seen for what we are. But it’s a lie from the Devil to think that we must appear successful to be liked or accepted!
Paul gives us the answer to our dilemma. 3:16-18 The only way to freedom is to take away the veil…and the only way to remove it is through Christ. We have to apply His death and resurrection to our lives.
It starts by dying to the old way of life…the flesh. Let me give you some practical options; you choose what’s best for you. 1) Stand up right now to let others know you are tired of living with the veil and you are choosing to get real in Christ. 2) Turn to someone next to you and tell them you’ve been wearing a veil, but no more. 3) Come clean with your family when you get home. 4) Or bow your head with me as we pray together, but make a vow before God remove the veil. Whichever you choose, it’s a decision to begin to walk in the resurrection power of Jesus. You cannot do it on your own…you need the Spirit that brings LIFE!!!
Prayer – “Lord, we are tired of walking in the flesh and wearing veils. We want to remove the veil and look intently straight into Your glory and be transformed by it. HS, help us to engage the battle every moment.”
(Prayer available afterwards.)