Untitled Sermon (8)
Today’s text comes from although for our reading we will read verses 1-10.
Read and Pray.
I want to begin today’s service by asking you a question.
After you have lived this life to it’s fullest and you stand before the Lord, will the account that you give be on the basis of your performance before man or before God?
Will the way in which you handled yourself stem from a desire to please the Lord?
Or will it stem from a desire to appease a man?
Will God look upon everything that you did in this life and see it as truly being done for Him?
Or will He see most of what you have done in this life in His name was actually done out of reverence for men?
Now trust me when I say that I do not ask this question lightly.
I spent some time trying to get the wording just right so that it’s not my words that might be offensive but that it would be the Proclamation of the Word of God that would quicken the hearts of His people.
So I ask this question once again.
Should you stand before the Lord tomorrow, would He see your life as lived out for Him?
Or would he see within the depths of your heart a desire to be pleasing to those around you?
I think that if we were honest with one another, our answer would have to be the latter.
Most of us have sought out to be appeasing to the voices of men.
We might not have done it outright but we have none the less done it.
We could have 25 different and random people tell us what we should be doing and ignore it entirely.
Yet the very second someone we respect, fear or adore tells us what we need to do, we’ll move mountains to bend towards their words.
Now I’m not saying that we reject Biblical authority in this as there is a vast difference in being obedient to the commands of Scripture and being obedient to the commands of men.
The former is a by-product of the regenerated heart that seeks after the things of the Lord.
The Latter is a heart motivated by something other than Biblical conviction.
The heart set upon the attention to men will always be bound to act according to what man says.
The heart bound upon the Lord will only act in what the Word of the Lord tells them to do.
This is nothing new!
This has been the condition of the Human heart for many countless generations.
The Pharisees did it by forming for themselves doctrines of men and practicing those things with such staunch accuracy that they left many in the wake and their path of destruction.
Not only was there a devastating path left behind them, but they spent countless many years becoming white washed tombs.
They had everything on the outside that looked so perfectly right, and yet on the inside there was nothing but an empty grave full of dead mens bones.
John Calvin said it like this:
The flesh is willing to flatter itself, and many who now give themselves every indulgence promise to themselves an easy entrance into life. Thus men practice mutual deception on each other, and fall asleep in wicked indifference
It’s our fleshly side of us that makes us believe that everything will be alright.
And not only do we deceive ourselves, but we then begin to do the same with others.
We begin looking upon men to seek after their approval.
We look horizontally to men who would lift us up or tell us what to do.
The problem is that what we need isn’t found horizontally.
We cannot seek after the approval and affirmation of men in the things that only the Lord Jesus Christ can affirm for us.
Our affirmation has to be vertical.
It has to come from the one place that it truly counts.
For if it doesn’t come from the Lord, then it is truly in vain.
Think for just a moment about great men from Scripture such as Shadrack, Meshack and Abendigo.
How would their time in the fiery furnace have turned out if they were seeking after the approval of men?
They would have never went into that furnace at all.
For when King Nebuchadnezzar required all of the people to bow down and worship that golden idol, they would have merely bowed.
They would not have stood their ground and dealt with the consequences.
They would have bowed to the desires of man and been spared the trial they endured.
Their actions would have been approved by men and that would have allowed them to continue on without any issues coming their way.
Yet, do you realize what wouldn’t have happened?
The Glory of God would not have been revealed in showing King Nebuchadnezzar His power.
King Nebuchadnezzar would have continued running the land in such a way where he had no true reverence for the one who was truly in control.
I mean just think about the events of that story for a moment.
Because Shadrack, Meshack and Abendigo chose to stand their ground, worship the one true King, they were to be cast into the furnace.
A furnace designed to melt metals.
Metals such as what was used to build the Golden Idol.
They used it to smelt minerals and bake bricks.
This thing was not like your oven in your home.
For one thing it’s very reasonable to assume that this thing could reach temperatures of around 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Not only did it get that hot, but the very guards who carried the men down there were killed just by getting that close to the fire.
Back up for a minute and think about the thoughts that had to be going through those men’s minds.
They knew that to serve God and have their approval come from Him meant that it may very well cost them their lives.
Yet in the midst of the trial their feet were set firm upon the Lord.
They wanted no outside assistance, no outside approval but only cared for standing firm upon the Lord.
As we all know full well, the outcome of that incident left Shadrack, Meshack and Abendigo walking around the furnace with some other unknown person.
They came out of that furnace alive with no issues.
Not even so much as their clothes smelt like smoke.
They were completely untouched!
And while that is a beautiful end to standing firm upon the Lord and seeking only our approval from Him.
That’s not always how it ends is it?
Fast forward a couple thousand years and we find the story of John Huss.
A man who was a follower of John Wycliffe during the time prior to the reformation.
Huss was a forerunner to the Reformation.
One who followed the ideas of Wycliffe in asserting that the Scripture alone held the authority for the Church.
That the Papacy was to be done away with and that Priests and leaders within the Church should not be able to buy their positions.
Something else that is not widely known about Huss though is that he advocated for the Christian conscious.
That no authority over the mans conscious should exist except that which is Given by God.
If we could for a moment place that into our own place in this Text today, we would find it applicable in that we seek not after pleasing man but pleasing God.
We seek not after following rules set out by man but living by grace through Christ.
And how can a person live a life pleasing before the Lord if their conscious is bound by something laid out by men and not by God?
For when they desire to move in one direction their conscience is bound and it restrains them.
It’ll restrain their voice and it will restrain their actions.
Huss knew that!
That was part of his position in fighting for a freedom of the conscious.
Huss stood for Biblical truth in a period of time that was absolutely life threatening.
To defy the Pope or any form of Roman headship was to basically write your own excommunication papers.
Not to mention it was like lighting your own fire to be burned at the stake.
And that’s precisely what Huss did.
He was summoned multiple times to answer for both his teachings and his writings and each time, he stood his ground.
Not once did it cross his mind to bend his thoughts to the desires of men.
Not once did it come from his mouth that maybe he should relinquish his ideology and fall back into line with Catholicism.
The very last time that Huss stood before the Council that condemned him to death was July 4th 1415.
They brought charge after charge upon him and yet Huss refused to recant from his positions.
After their demanding he recant failed.
They went as far as having a sermon preached concerning the destruction of heretics from the text which says, “Let the body of sin be destroyed.”
It was after this that they censured him, ordained that he should be degraded from the priesthood, his books publicly burned.
And that he was to be delivered over to the secular powers.
Which in turn meant that he would be burned alive.
Huss received this sentence without even the slightest emotion.
The only thing that he did was kneel down, lift up his eyes towards heaven saying this:
“May thy infinite mercy, O my God! pardon this injustice of mine enemies. Though knowest the injustice of my accusations: how deformed with crimes I have been represented; how I have been oppressed with worthless witness, and a false condemnation; yet, O my God! let that mercy of thine, which no tongue can express, prevail with thee not to avenge my wrongs.”
As you could imagine, this merely inflamed Huss’s enemies and they began to cry out calling him a heretic.
And before this council removed him from this room, it was said the expression of Huss was of unconcern.
As though his soul knew that coming before him was this place of everlasting happiness.
Two days later, Huss was led to the place where they would burn him alive.
They then proceeded to brutalize Huss the way they did all supposed heretics and they bound him naked on a form of a pyre.
He went to his own execution singing Psalms and exalting the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
At one point as they were putting him around the stake, Huss put a smile upon his face and said to the crowd:
“My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake: why, then, should I be ashamed of this old rusty one?”
At the very last moment as the logs were piled around him, the Duke of Bavaria pleaded with him to recant of errors.
And Huss’s response was that he never preached anything that was of an evil doctrine or tendency.
But that what he had said with his mouth he will now seal with his blood.
He then turned to the exectutioner and told him that he may kill him now, but in 100 years, there will come a man that he can neither roast nor boil.
With that Huss proceeded to sing in a cheerful tone that was heard above the crackling of the timbers.
And the only thing that interrupted his singing was the flames which overtook him and snuffed out his life.
Can you imagine this?
To seek so badly to only serve the Lord Jesus Christ that you would endure such a trial as this?
I mean that’s nothing compared to William Tyndale.
A man who they strangled to the point of almost losing consciousness and then when he was disorientated, they lit the kindling around him.
Think about this for a minute.
How many men and women throughout Church history stood so firm in their faith that it cost them their life?
How many of them were so unwilling to bend to the desires of mankind that they would rather find their approval in God that it cost them their lives?
What about those who lost their children because of their desire to be a servant of Christ?
Person after person, name after name will come to light as we begin to open this door and peer into history to see who sought after pleasing the Lord.
And do you know why?
Because not only do we realize that we are called to serve our King.
But we are forever indebted to Him!
Look with me here at the last portion of verse 10.
Paul says, “for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
The problem is that most often, our understanding of this passage allows us to set aside our service to Christ.
That’s whats wrong with over half of the evangelical world today.
They see themselves as servants in light of a modern understanding of what they read in a passage like this.
One could almost say that they see themselves as being employees of Christ.
We do our time on the clock for the Lord Jesus Christ and then after our 9-5, it’s our time.
It’s my me-time.
I put in my 8 hours for the Lord today, now it’s about me...
You know what, I actually wish I could say that with boldness!
I actually wish that I could look at the lives of not only myself but also all of God’s people and say well at least they lived for Christ for 8 hours today.
At least they sought after pleasing God for 8 hours today...
Sadly though, I would venture to say that most of the western world today has no comprehension of what it means to seek after pleasing the Lord.
They may please man.
They may please the men of influence around them.
They may please self.
But where is their desire to please God?
Where is their desire to please God at in seeking after Him in His Word?
Where is their desire to please God at in seeking after Him in prayer?
Where is their desire to please God in standing for His truth at all times?
Beloved, I am not meaning to throw any one under the bus here.
But this is reality.
We often times treat our relationship with Christ as though it was set up for us to carry it out only during certain periods of the day.
How often is it in the depths our own hearts beloved do we seek to persuade men?
Seek to please men?
I can look around and count countless of ways in my own heart that I do this.
And that’s long before I begin looking at the lives of others and seeing the ways in which they do this.
But that’s my sin nature.
I just like you have the ability to real quick like try to pull the speck out of your eye before I pull the log out of my own.
That however doesn’t change the basis for this text.
Beloved we are called to seek after pleasing the Lord.
We are not called to seek after pleasing men!
Don’t come to me or any other Elder in this Church in hopes of pleasing us as it will get you nowhere before the Lord!
It will not work for you one ounce of higher praise from the Lord Jesus Christ to do something that I tell you.
That is unless you have sought it out diligently within His Word and found it there!
How much easier do you think Paul’s life would have been if he would have lived his life the way we so often live our own?
I mean I guess we might still have Galatians but it might be in a different tone.
He might have found some way to find a middle ground with the Jews there.
Maybe he could have appeased to what the Judiazers were saying and told the Church that all these things are great that they’ve done.
JUST DON’T FORGET JESUS.
Go ahead and add man’s Law’s and restrictions upon the Gospel.
JUST DON’T FORGET ABOUT JESUS.
Go ahead and add Circumcision to everything.
JUST DON’T FORGET JESUS.
Oh how much easier Paul’s life could have been.
When Paul stood in the midst of the Aeropegous and found the alter to the unknown God.
Paul could have just gone along to get along.
Not making any waves with the Gospel but telling these people that Jesus was an option as well.
You know, all roads will get you somewhere.
Half of the New Testament would be missing if this was the way that Paul interacted with everyone.
He never would have made his way before the Emperor Nero because there would have never been any opposition to him.
Every Synagogue would have embraced him and there would have eventually been no distinction between Pharisees and Christians.
There would have really been no need for most of what Paul wrote to the Church’s in the first century.
But Paul knew that this was not the case.
Paul knew that he had been brought out of this slavery of sin and the bondage that comes with it.
He knew that the freedoms that came through Christ weren’t actually free.
They may be given to you freely through Jesus’ death.
But they cost Him everything!
And if truth is really understood, it’s not actually free for us after we receive it either!
Yes to receive it is free and cost you absolutely nothing.
For salvation of sinners is given out freely to all who come to the cross.
But once you have been bought through Christ Jesus, you now belong to him.
You become a slave to Him.
But not in the manner in which we think of slavery.
Slavery in the sense of our indebtedness to Him.
And that’s actually what Paul is saying here.
The actual Greek manuscript renders it this way.
CHRISTOU DOULOS OUK AN EMEN
AN OUK EMEN DUOLOS CHRISTOU
I would not be a slave to Christ.
The passage would in essence say this, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a slave to Christ.”
He’s in essence saying that should he choose to be appeasing to men, he might as well give up the Gospel and follow the Law.
Yet, Paul’s entire ministry fought against the idea of remaining in the slavery of the Law.
Remaining under the yoke of the Law.
Paul knew very well that his life was no longer his own.
That this freedom from performance based religion was dealt with through Christ Jesus.
He knew that his life was set apart to serve his redeemer.
Because the Lord bought him and brought him out of the bondage of sin and death.
His heart could no longer be set on trying to appease men.
Whether the issue was in dealing with those people who add things to the Gospel like what you find in this letter.
Or in dealing with people who were still in love with their sin.
Paul knew first and foremost that the person that he was trying to please was not men.
It was God!
That’s what gave him the boldness to stand firm under every circumstance.
Paul would gladly stand in the midst of the crowd and be the only one to not salute if that’s what God was calling him to do.
Paul would do it boldly and without question!
Because it pleased His redeemer.
How many of us could really say the same?
How many of us would be like that Nazi picture you see and be the one who would refuse to raise our arm in salute to Hitler?
How many of us would be like Deitrich Bonhoeffer and in the midst of the Nazi take over, call for repentance?
How many of us would do this?
Beloved hear me out today in what I am saying to you.
You don’t need to be the worlds greatest theologian.
You don’t need to be the person who stands up at the pulpit and articulates the Gospel.
You don’t need to be someone who leads the Church.
You need to be someone who will take the head knowledge of knowing that you should be pleasing God and put it to practice!
Put it to practice in light of your redeemer!
Don’t just talk about wanting to be pleasing to God.
Don’t just talk about wanting to be approved by God.
Put it into practice.
Recognize who you are in Christ Jesus and get your feet moving.
Now you might be asking how it is that you can do this?
Well for starters, be in the Word!
Be in the Word in such a way that when something is said that doesn’t line up with what God has said, you question it!
Spend so much time studying that you have no question of what God has said about something.
When you see someone adding to the Gospel or trying to remove one ounce of glory due Christ, you would be able to rebuke them.
When you see someone adding restrictions to the Christian life, you rebuke them.
Live out your life not in fear of the approval of men but in fear of the approval of God!
Let not your hearts be burdened by the speech of men.
But let them be burdened for the Lord.
Don’t worry about whether your life is appeasing to the person sitting next to you.
Worry about the opinion of God!
Don’t live your life being under a burden placed there by man because you think it might be appealing to Christ.
Seek to know what Christ says and then you will know who you are appeasing!
Of course this mandates that we check our own hearts doesn’t it?
This mandates that we check everything that we do in light of the Word!
I mean saying all of this really doesn’t mean anything if we don’t check our hearts in light of the Word of God does it?
If we’re taking things that we have been taught at face value and declaring them to be Scripture, our theological convictions just came from men!
If your basis is because I or someone else told
Instead Paul here is referencing sinful complaisance.
Don’t fashion your theological conviction in light of appeasing to men.
Don’t seek to gain favor from men by succumbing to something you don’t find in the Word.
Yet this doesn’t mean that we begin to carry ourselves in such a way that we draw upon ourselves the ill-will of the world through pride or self-will.
We do not become carnal when dealing with issues.
But instead we examine ourselves to see that our zeal is either from the Lord and is founded.
Or whether it be from ourselves and we need to relinquish our thoughts.
Lord forbid someone like Huss go to his death for something not founded upon the Word of God.
Could you imagine Shadrack, Meshack and Abendigo going into the fiery furnace for something not founded upon the Word of God?
Could you imagine Christ going to the cross because he thought that it might be appeasing to men?
I mean it was appeasing to those Jews to say the least.
They begged and pleaded for the Lord to be Crucified.
And if Christ would have went to the cross with any other motive than to fulfill the will of the Father, one could almost say that it would have been pitied.
Yet Christ did not go to the Cross to appease men.
He went for the Father!
He went to appease and take upon himself the wrath of God over our sin.
Beloved how quickly it is that we forget this.
I mean we wouldn’t dare verbally admit this.
But the very moment that we set our hearts on pleasing men, we fail to please Christ.
We fail to please the one who bought us.
I have no doubt that there are many within this room who have done this.
Many would probably be an understatement.
Understand what I’m saying in light of the context of this passage.
These Christians accepted Christ to begin with.
Their hearts affections set upon Christ and only Christ.
But then someone came along telling them to do more.
And how quickly it was that they began appeasing men.
How quickly it was that they allowed themselves to forget about their risen Lord.
They began to quit focusing upon the works of the Lord and were focusing upon works done on their own.
Beloved if this is you, repent!
Don’t let another moment pass by you that you are dependent upon your performance and not upon Christ.
Don’t continue trusting in your own work when Christ is the only solution.
He is the only answer.
There will be nothing concerning righteousness found in the things that you do.
But what would be found there is unbelief!
Lack of trust in knowing that Christ is truly sufficient and efficient.
Beloved if this has never happened in your life before, praise God that He kept you from this sin.
But I would also challenge you to dig deep into your heart, because the reality is pretty clear.
At some point in our walk most of us will do this.
Most of us will do or say something because a man told us to do it.
Most of us have done something because we knew that it what someone wanted us to do.
Our actions were done because a man worked on our heart.
Not because the Spirit of God moved upon our hearts.