Dying to Serve
I Peter 4:1-11 Nov. 21, 1999
Stewardship=Servantship=Response of Thankfulness
V.1 Christ died for sin that we might die to sin.
Sin hinders, even destroys our willingness and ability to serve.
So what is the attitude we are to have?
It is being dead to sin (why?) in order to serve.
Christ was dead to sin before he went on the cross which enabled him to perform the will of God upon the cross – the ultimate service to set others free in himself even as he is free – freedom to serve.
Our attitude is key. It is a matter of the heart.
Notice that we are to “arm” ourselves with this attitude.
This means that the best defense against sin is dying to sin, and we are then strengthened to serve in a way that helps others overcome sin.
We become “living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1-2).
We become members of a victorious army that can no longer die because we are already dead.
Sin has no power over us.
We become armed and transformed by an attitude of death to sin into victorious and invincible servants.
V.2 The will of God is that we live to serve and not live to sin.
Notice it says the rest of your life.
There is a point you can make to change over to the will of God.
V. 3-4 Our death to sin is helped along by the tension that it causes with our past and others who are living as we used to.
The contrast of our present freedom and victory with our past bondage is a strong incentive to live a useful life of service.
Our lives now have a divine rather than a demonic purpose.
And the abuse by those still in bondage confirms our escape from it.
They don’t understand the difference between us and them and they react to it.
In fact, the greater the abuse, the greater the confirmation.
There may be a jealousy to our election.
But they too can submit themselves to the cross as candidates for freedom.
The effectiveness of our service confirms this for them.
V. 5 Our service is proof of our accountability to the God who saves us.
Our accountability condemns their lack of it.
God will judge, no one living or dead will escape it.
Our death to sin proves we are alive to God.
And yet though we are alive to God we will die.
We must understand the terms of life and death.
This life to us in Christ is a “living death”. Why?
V. 6 Because the body must die.
Through the “preaching of the gospel” we are transformed from death to life, even now as we are still in this body of death.
This is in order that we might serve and bring others to this same place of life in the Spirit.
Our spirit will live even though our body dies. (This message extends the one from last week-that the privilege of persecution is the right to preach.)
Our service, living the will of God, is a means of preaching the gospel.
V. 7 But we must always consider that the time is short.
We don’t live that long.
Others don’t live that long.
And Christ might return at any moment.
So how must we serve?
First we must live, But then:
(v.7)a. We must pray.
But we must be reminded that any courting of our past sins sucks the life out of our prayers.
The life of our prayers come from our life in Christ.
If you want others to be saved you must remain on the top of that hill so that you can defend it for them as they crawl up through enemy fire.
Your prayers are cover for them.
Life holy lives on Christ’s hill of hope.
Is there anything in your life that hinders your prayers?
(v.8)b. We must love.
It is hard to be clear minded and self controlled to pray when we are consumed by internal problems – by lack of love for anyone, either in the church or out of it.
Christ’s love that covers our sins cannot bear full fruit through us unless we are willing to do the same.
Because we are dead to sin we are enabled to forgive sin as he forgave us.
As his love freed us to serve we can love others into his service.
Remember the withered fig tree in Mk. 11:20-26?
Is there anyone in your life you have failed to love?
(v.9)c. We must be hospitable.
This is sharing and giving of your life. It is who you are.
It is letting others in – not keeping them at a distance.
It is a most effective way of affirmation
It is putting actions to your prayers and your words.
Inviting other believers in keeps bonds strong and serves as a witness to unbelievers that we are together.
Inviting unbelievers in destroys barriers to the gospel and breaks down resistance to truth as they see you live it and practice it.
Note that this is a certain kind of hospitality.
It is hospitality without grumbling.
We can destroy our actions by our words.
1Cor 13 says without love we become like a clanging cymbal.
We are about to invite everyone down to a fantastic fellowship dinner in honor of Thanksgiving and as a call to stewardship or servantship.
We are thankful to be able to serve, and we serve because we are thankful.
What if, the whole time, we grumble in our hearts and express it with our words that this is too great a burden to bear?
Our witness goes bye bye because we are not willing to give service and hospitality.
When is the last time you invited a non-believer, or even a believer over to share your life with you?
(v.10)d. We must act or respond in any way we can to serve others.
There are a variety of spiritual gifts. I Cor 12:4-11 and Rom.12:6-8 lists them---
Note that the reason they have been given to us is to serve others.
There are many ways to administer God’s grace.
The question is; are we just living our lives for ourselves?
If so, what then is the difference between now and when we didn’t know Christ and just served the selfishness of sin.
God has given us gifts to share, not just to keep for ourselves, and it is not a one-time thing.
The word “faithfully” implies “continually.”
God’s “grace” implies we did not deserve our gifts.
So we share them with others whether we think they deserve them or not.
To “administer” means to “wisely apply”.
Our serving is not to be a haphazard effort.
In what ways are you able to serve others?
It is interesting to note that the gifts listed in Rom 12:6-8 follow the exhortation to become a living sacrifice.
Again, death to sin leads to a life of service.
And in 1Cor 12:4-11, the gifts flow from our life in the Spirit once we free from the stranglehold of sin (1Cor. 12:2).
(v.11)e. We must speak the words we have heard from God. We must perform the deeds that God enables (gifts to be exercised).
We are God’s servants and representatives to say what God says and do what God does.
The result of all this is that in all things God might be praised through Christ.
He has chosen to speak and act through us as his servants for his glory.
Are you dying to serve the glory of God?
We have some deacon-deaconness positions to fill by January 1.
Deacon = servant.
Is anyone dying to fill them?
An elder at First Presbyterian in Pittsburgh told his pastor after the morning message, "You preachers talk a lot about giving your time and talents, but when it comes right down to it, it's all basin theology." "What do you mean by that?" asked the pastor. The elder replied, "Remember what Pilate did when he had the chance to acquit Jesus? He called for a basin and washed his hands of the whole thing. But Jesus, the night before his death, called for a basin and proceeded to wash the feet of the disciples. It all comes down to basin theology: Which one will you use?"
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Timeless Truth: The reason we are saved is in order that we might serve.
See: Peter's mother-in-law in Mark 1:29-31.
Let us now recognize and thank those who have so faithfully served us all as deacons and deaconnesses over this past year ------ (read descriptions).