Do you believe that you are alive? Practical Theology
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),Ephesians 2:4-5
We finished our time together this morning with a question: Do you believe that you are alive in Christ? Most everyone that answered this question this morning answered in the affirmative. The follow-up question is this: What does this look like in your life? Do you live as though you are alive in Christ?
It is true for most of us here tonight that we could and would say that we are alive in Christ. If you were telling someone about this truth so clearly taught in scripture would they see you living it as well as speaking it? You remember in the old western movies we would sometimes see the interaction between the cowboys and the Indians. Sooner or later we would hear an Indian say, “White man speak with forked tongue.” What did he mean? He meant that the white man was saying one thing, or promising one thing, and doing something completely different. That is how we are sometimes. We tell someone what the Word of God says but we don’t live it ourselves.
What I am talking about is practical theology. Where what you know about God affects how you live your life everyday. What I am doing tonight just scratches the surface of the issue but I think it will challenge just the same.
The elders have been thinking and praying about how we could serve the community by offering some help and support for those who have addictions. One of the things I am finding is that I am not comfortable with the idea that an addict is always in recovery, especially when I think about this from a Christian point of view. I have been continually nudged by God to consider whether or not I believe what I read in Scripture. I gave you one such example this morning from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says.
1. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13
One of the things being alive in Christ helps us with is understanding scripture…so briefly, lets break this down.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man;
- What is Paul telling us here?
God is faithful
who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able-
but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it-
2. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:2-3
a. How are we to understand what Peter writes here? Does it have a bearing on how we deal with life’s issues?
3. Turn to Romans 6. I am going to read some of these verses to you and we will talk about what this means.
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Romans 6:4-7
a. What is this newness of life?
b. …so that we would no longer be slaves to sin…
i. What is the life of a slave like?
c. …for he who has died is freed from sin.
i. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—Romans 8:11-12
4. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live be the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25
a. We should note that the fruit of the Spirit comes with the Spirit. It is what the spirit does in us. So we have been given some measure of each of these “fruits” to help us live. Let’s consider self-control. This is an area where human beings have significant trouble.
i. One writer said that he thought King Solomon was probably an American at heart because he wrote, I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. Ecclesiastes 2:10
ii. Do you believe that you can exercise self-control? Being alive in Christ means that we can. We just read the passage that tells us that the fruit of the spirit dwells in us with the spirit himself.
1. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.2 Timothy 1:7
b. Since God didn’t make us perfect in the area of self-control it means that we have to work at it with God’s help. How do we do that? Well, it means that we have to apply some other truths in scripture.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 2 Peter 1:5-6
i. here we realize that we do need to work at it. Apply or make every effort to add self control to our lives.
ii. You might say that you have tried this over and over again and you just can’t do it. We have to deal with at least two problem areas in our lives and it comes back to whether we believe what the scriptures say or not.
iii. Let’s assume that you have identified an area in your life where you do not have self-control. That is where it starts. You are trying to submit yourself to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, you confess your lack of self-control as sin and the battle is on.
iv. One of the problems you are going to face is your own flesh. You have already trained yourself to want, we might even say need, whatever it is that you are battling. Your flesh will fight you every step of the way as you try to get this part of your life in order. You have to re-train yourself so that, as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:4, you are learning to control your body in a way that is holy and honorable. The flesh, especially the flesh that has been allowed to have its own way, will fight you.
1. But didn’t we read in Romans 8 that we are no longer under bondage to the flesh? Do you believe it? Here is where it really matters. Hear is where the being alive in Christ has significant benefit. We have power through the spirit of God over the flesh.
2. another aspect of dealing with the flesh is the consequences of our previous sin. this is true especially when you are dealing with a physical addiction. Not only does mind need to be retrained in godliness but your body then also must be brought into submission. But the truth of scripture still applies. We can power over the flesh and sufficient grace for our needs.
v. Another problem we face when we do anything that God wants us to is that the evil one doesn’t want us to. Here we also have a great promise, one that I wonder if we really believe.
1. Any one know what James 4:7 says? Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Do you believe this?
2. this is crucial to our battle against the lack of self-control. If you don’t believe it you are missing out on a great deal of help already given to you by God.
3. Sometimes this resisting is a very real, out loud, kind of thing. When you are being tempted, you can say something like this. “Lord I am being tempted to do what I know is not right in your eyes, please help me resist this temptation.” I want to tell you that it works! You can believe it. Remember that it is a battle. You will have to do it again and again until you can overcome with God’s help.
There are many other areas we could talk about…Trusting God, Joy and peace, or taking captive your thoughts. But my challenge to you is to really live your life as one who is alive in Christ, who has the Holy Spirit to empower you to real victory over your sins.