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Be Changed by Christ

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Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Part 5: Be Changed by Christ

James 2:1-13

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - March 11, 2012

*We generally don’t like change. As Mark Twain famously said, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” (1)

*We don’t like change. But Jesus wants to change us in some wonderful ways.

1. First, the Lord wants to give us new vision.

*God calls us to this kind of change starting in vs. 1-4, where James said:

1. My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

2. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,

3. and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool,"

4. have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

*What is God trying to tell us here? -- He is telling us to stop looking at people from the world’s point of view.

-God wants us to have a new mind-set, a new perspective.

-He wants us to see people from His point of view.

*Jesus Christ wants us to have our Heavenly Father’s eyes. So it is a big mistake for us to show favoritism to people just because they are rich. When we do that we are blind in a way.

*Two or three times recently I have heard someone from another church say they were concerned their church might be like the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-18. There Jesus said:

14. "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:

15. "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.

16. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

17. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

18. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

*God does not want us to be spiritually blind. But we are when we show favoritism to people just because they are rich.

[1] First, we are blind to our own sin.

-James 2:4 reminds us of this, because it tells us we have become “judges with evil thoughts.”

[2] This kind of snobbery also makes us blind to the real status of poor Christians.

-James points this out to us in vs. 5&6, where he says:

5. Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

6. But you have dishonored the poor man. . .

*I read about one man who was struggling financially. And one day he joked, “My car is so rusty, I need a tetanus shot to drive it!" (2)

*That may be true for you, but if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are already rich in faith. And there is an unbelievable Kingdom waiting for you just over the hill!

*When we show favoritism to rich people, we are blind to the rich spiritual status of poor Christians.

[3] But we are also blind to the shortcomings of rich people.

-Verse 6 reminds us with this question: “Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?”

*There are wealthy people in Hollywood and New York who would love to see Christians like you rounded up and locked away in a camp somewhere. And now the federal government is trying to force Christian institutions to pay for drugs that cause abortion. No wonder that our Louisiana (Baptist) College felt compelled to go to court against this outrage.

*And think for a moment about some of the rich and powerful entertainers in our country. Should anybody really be looking up to people like Madonna and Lady Gaga? -- But they do.

*Twitter is one of the biggest social media sites. It’s kind of like facebook, boiled down to a sentence at a time. Here are some of the top 10 people on Twitter:

-Lady Gaga (over 20 million followers)

-Justin Bieber (over 18 million)

-Katy Perry (over 15 million)

-And Kim Kardashian (over 13 million)

*Should we be looking up to people like that? -- Of course not! But when we show favoritism to the rich, we are blind to their shortcomings of rich people.

[4] We are also blind to the spiritual needs of rich people.

-James reminds us in vs. 7 with a question: “Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?”

*Yes, many of them do blaspheme the name of our Lord. And they hate us. But the truth is that they are blind and absolutely lost without Jesus Christ. We need to see the vanity of riches.

*About 200 years ago, the tomb of the great emperor Charlemagne was opened. And the workmen saw a startling sight. There his body was posed in a sitting position, clothed in the most elaborate royal garments. A scepter was in one of Charlemagne’s bony hands. On his knee lay copy of the Bible with a cold, lifeless finger pointing to Mark 8:36: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, & lose his own soul?" (3)

*Andrew Carnegie said: "Millionaires who laugh, are rare."

*Sir Ernest Cassel spent vast fortunes for the benefit of mankind. He was a multi-millionaire, the friend of kings and emperors, but he once told a visitor this: "You may have all the money in the world, and yet be a lonely, sorrowing man. The light has gone out of my life. I live in this beautiful house, which I have furnished with all the luxury and wonder of art but believe me, I no longer value my millions. I sit here for hours every night longing for my beloved daughter." (4)

*Chuck Swindoll once wrote that:

-Money can buy medicine, but not health.

-A house, but not a home.

-Companionship, but not friends.

-Entertainment, but not happiness.

-Food, but not an appetite.

-A bed, but not sleep.

-A cross, but not a Savior.

-The good life, but not eternal life.

-Religion but not salvation;

-And a ticket to anywhere but Heaven. (5)

*We need to see spiritual truths like this. -- So the Lord wants to give us new vision.

2. But Jesus also wants to give us new values.

*When we receive Christ, God gives us new values for living, the highest values, the values of Jesus Christ. In the next few verses, James focused on 3 of these values.

[1] And the first value was love.

-We see this value in vs. 8, where James said: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,’ you do well.”

*James calls it the “Royal Law”: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

-God wants us to love people into His Kingdom.

*Years ago, some friends went through a terrible time of grief. They had three tragic deaths in less than a year. It was devastation on top of devastation. But these people love God, and they love their church. They had been going to this church for about two years when all the trouble struck.

*Sometime later, we talked about it all, and my friend wasn’t trying to be critical, but she said that the new church was much better than her former church. She told me about the prayers, visits, cards, calls, food and other expressions of love they received after the trouble began.

*I asked her, “What’s the difference between the two churches?

-And she said, “The people at the other church were one-hour-a-week-faith people.” But these people are Christians all week long. They really care.”

*That’s the kind of Christians God wants us to be: Christians filled with God’s love, and living in God’s love every day. God gives us the value of love.

[2] But He also gives us the value of perfection.

*We see this value in vs. 9-11, where James said:

9. but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

10. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

11. For He who said, "DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY," also said, "DO NOT MURDER." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

*If we offend in one point, we are guilty of ALL. In other words: If you are anything less than perfect, you are guilty! -- And unfortunately, we are.

*Steven Chapman once said: “Think how many temptations you and I face in an ordinary day.”

*Here are a few of the examples he gave:

-Growling at the breakfast table, the temptation to unkindness.

-Arguing over who should change the baby this time, the temptation to selfishness.

-Starting work 10 minutes late, the temptation to laziness.

-Losing your temper when a co-worker crashes your computer, the temptation to impatience.

-Refusing to speak to a person who has hurt you, the temptation to malice.

-Repeating a juicy story of your neighbor’s misfortune, the temptation to gossip.

-Taking your anger out on the children after a hard day, the temptation to cruelty.

-Firing off a hasty letter to a friend who hurt you, the temptation to revenge. (6)

*God’s Word says that “if we offend in one point, we are guilty of all.” And no matter how hard we try, we just cannot live a perfect life.

[3] But thank God there is another value here! -- It’s the value of mercy, and we see it in vs. 12-13, where James tells Christians:

12. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

13. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

*The value of mercy: Everybody needs mercy, and everybody needs to give mercy.

*Life without mercy is an ugly thing. In 1647, Oliver Cromwell captured King Charles I in England. Charles was tried and sentenced to death on Jan. 30, 1649. Fifty-nine men signed the death warrant.

*Eleven years later, the Royalists regained power, and put Charles II on the throne of England. Charles II immediately began getting revenge for death of his father. He gave orders to arrest the 59 men who signed his father’s death warrant. Most of the 59 were arrested, tried and executed. But 15 had already died.

*Charles’ thirst for revenge was so ugly that he had their bodies dug up, tried and hung on the gallows. (7)

*Lack of mercy is an ugly thing. And James gives us a sober warning in vs. 13: “Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.”

*We cannot expect mercy, if we are not willing to give mercy.

-But the wonderful good news of the Gospel is that we can give mercy, because we have received mercy from God!

*1 Peter 2:9-10 tells Christians:

9. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

10. who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

*Almost everybody knows that Jesus died on the cross between two thieves. And one of those thieves got saved on the cross.

*William Barclay once wrote about the Lord’s miraculous mercy to the thief on the cross beside Him. The thief said: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus told him: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

*Barclay then remembered a poem that illustrated God’s amazing grace. This little poem imagined the testimony of a man who died when he was thrown from his galloping horse. And it said:

-“Between the stirrup and the ground,

-Mercy I asked. -- Mercy I found.” (8)

*“Between the stirrup and the ground, Mercy I asked. -- Mercy I found.”

-God will be just as generous with you right now, if you will turn to Him and trust in the cross of Jesus Christ.

*And Christians, we have received God’s mercy. So now God wants us to give His Mercy. Getting mercy from the Lord causes us to give it to others. And what great value it brings to our lives!

*Mercy puts joy in the hearts of those who give it, and in the hearts of those who receive it. So in vs. 13, mercy “rejoices against judgment”, the KJV says. In the NKJ, mercy “triumphs over judgment.”

*This is the triumphant joy God wants you and me to have.

-And these are the kinds of changes He wants to make in our lives.

-A life overflowing with the Lord’s vision and values.

*The first step is to trust in the Lord.

-Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.

1. Original source unknown

2. Found in Bible Illustrator for windows - Topic: Riches - Subtopic: Earthly - Index: 2805-2811 - Date: 10/1987.26

3. Found in Bible Illustrator for windows - Topic: Riches - Subtopic: Deceptive - Index: 2810 - Date: 1/1987.17 - Title: Charlemagne's Tomb

4. The Voice in the Wilderness - Found in Bible Illustrator for windows - Topic: Riches - Index: 2805-2815

5. Found in Bible Illustrator for windows - Topic: Riches - Subtopic: Disappointing - Index: 2811 - Date: 8/1987.2

6. SermonCentral sermon “Living as Though You Were Special” by Steven Chapman - 1 John 1:5-2:6

7. Illustration Digest by Jon Allen - May-June 1995, p. 9

8. William Barclay, The Daily Studies Bible Series, Luke Volume, (Westminster Press, 1975), page 287 (Found in sermon “The Last Seven Words of the Cross” by Eric Ritz - Sermon 3 - 7LW3 - “The Second Word from the Cross - TWO CONVERSATIONS WITH JESUS” - Luke 23:32-43)

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