Power To Perform God's Purpose
Luke 4:16-22 & 2nd Timothy 3:1-5*
In 2nd Timothy 3:5, Paul cautions that for many believers there is a tendency to practice a form of godliness without ever unleashing it’s power. A casual observer would find they know the language of religion and might even hold correct doctrinal beliefs. But upon closer examination, we would discover that their faith has little changed the person they are/were before faith came. They are like the mining boomtowns of the 1800’s. Storefronts were erected to give the appearance of a prosperous town, but behind the front they were little more than large clumsy tents.
In the fifth century, a man named Simeon Stylites accepted Christ as his Savior and determined to give the remainder of his life in service to God. For the first ten years he lived in a small cellar and spent all his time in study and prayer. Ultimately he decided to commission a tower high enough to get him beyond the distractions of everyday living. He spent the last 30 years of his life not seeing nor hearing another human voice. He erroneously believed his self-imposed isolation to be the purest form of godliness.
In 1917, as the world was at war and the Bolshevik rebellion was just beginning, the Russian Orthodox Church convened a meeting to decide whether a yellow or a white collar should be worn during religious services! Today, we are often more concerned with the order and length of service than with the expectation of God’s presence in our midst!
The point I am trying to make is that it is far easier to focus on the trappings of religion than to permit the power of God to be manifest. Every Sunday we see bicyclists peddling up and down the road out front. I see people with $1,000 bicycles, $600 bike suits, and $200 cycling shoes and wonder if they even remember why they ride? Is it about the exercise or is it to be seen?
Why are we here? Do we expect to change this community through the Word of God? Have we come to God’s house out of habit or is there a purpose in our effort? Jesus declared Himself and His purpose to the members of His community (Luke 4:18-19). I believe we should do the very same!
I. We Are to Preach the Forgiveness of Sin
A. Tell the truth about the nature of man
1. People love their rebellion against God
2. Without God’s pardon there is no hope
(God Is Not Great- Christopher Hitchens)
- Some are offended by the claims and demands of the Gospel
B. Sin has been obscured and its effects diminished by new definitions
1. Call it maladjustment – excuse criminal behavior as a circumstance of birth or environment
2. Call it an alternative lifestyle – let people believe and do what they will without judgment
3. Call it illness – This view depends upon a belief in the basic goodness of humankind
C. True godliness produces tangible results
1. Repentance is not just the turning over of a new leaf
2. Godliness empowers conversion not just the modification of behavior – The power and presence of God changes the underlying cause
II. The Lord Has Anointed Us
A. Divinely appointed
B. People with a purpose
1. Making God’s Kingdom a reality – by every means available via the Spirit
2. Standing against the tide
3. We must be channel markers – pointing the lost to Christ and discipling believers
What good is power if it is never allowed exercise? Within each of us lies an untapped source of great potential.