Faithlife Sermons

What Controls You?

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 27 views
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Out of Control

What’s really in control?
The very first retreat we held once I came here to Tamarack was in February of 2014. I had actually started planning the retreat with my friend who was the youth minister in Duncan at the time before I ever officially received a job offer- that was either really confident or really arrogant of me, you can take your pic. We just figured if we were going to have a retreat three months after I arrived, we should probably start planning as earlier as possible. It was a good weekend. Several churches together to study, play, and worship- it was refreshing. And the last big event was a worship service in a storm shelter out at Lujo and we crammed all of us in there and while worship that evening was powerful and moving, it’s not the reason I’m telling this story. When we walked into the storm shelter it was in the low 60’s. The high that day had been in the mid 70s. It had been beautiful. When we walked out of that shelter an hour and a half later, it was no longer in the low 60’s. It was in the upper 20’s- well that was fast. When we woke up the next morning, it was 17 degrees outside and there was a layer of ice across everything. Let me be clear- This wasn’t supposed to happen. The day we had left, the forecast said that the coldest it would get was the mid 30’s and that none of the precipitation would freeze. Sunday morning we woke up surrounded by evidence of their inaccuracy. We got up, hustled to get packed, loaded the trailer, loaded onto the bus, and began the slooooowwww drive home. And there’s nothing quite like driving that giant bus- that high-walled box-on-wheels while pulling a trailer, another box on wheels on an ice rink slick road in high wind. The moment I knew things were bad was when I went to make the first left turn. I was driving slow already, began my stopping well before the turn, and yet the bus continued on in the same direction at the same speed- uh oh, guess we’re taking the long way home. There’s little as disconcerting as feeling out of control of the vehicle I’m driving with other people’s children in the back.But the worst moment on that drive came on 62 around the Snyder cutoff. I was driving in the far right lane at a whopping 30 miles an hour when a gust of wind came ripping through one of the gaps in the Wichitas and blasted the side of the bus. The steering wheel never moved but I found us slowly sliding sideways into the left-hand lane. We finished the trip driving 20. We left Camp Lujo just south of Lawton at 7:30 that morning. We pulled up to the youth house at 11:15 and at no point between those two times did I feel as if I was really in control. Instead, I felt as if I was at the mercy of the ice and the wind. They decided where we were going. I was just along for the ride. Not a great feeling if you’re the one behind the wheel.
This morning we look at text in 1 Thessalonians where Paul addresses the ways in which we as people give control over ourselves to other things, other powers. Let’s pick up our study of first Thessalonians in Chapter 4:1, and as you turn that direction I’ll try to do a little quick review of this church, Paul’s time with them, and what that relationship is like.
The church in Thessaloniki has faced opposition from the beginning. Paul and his coworkers are chased out of the area, and this first letter that Paul writes to them notes more than once that the ones receiving this latter have faced that same opposition. We also know that they’ve been growing in faith from that point. Paul talks about their faithfulness to the gospel Paul brought to them being known throughout the known world. They have become imitators of Paul and of Christ. Yet they aren’t perfect. Growing, moving in the right direction, persevering through opposition from the local synagogue- those are all good things and yet they still have growing to do. Today, Paul moves from praise of how far they’ve come to an encouragement to keep at it, and wrest some control away from other powers in their culture and hand it back to God. Let’s dive in, and pay attention to how Paul talks about control

So then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to keep living the way you already are and even do better in how you live and please God—just as you learned from us. 2 You know the instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality 4 and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. 5 Don’t be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don’t know God. 6 No one should mistreat or take advantage of their brother or sister in this issue. The Lord punishes people for all these things, as we told you before and sternly warned you. 7 God didn’t call us to be immoral but to be dedicated to him. 8 Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn’t rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

9 You don’t need us to write about loving your brothers and sisters because God has already taught you to love each other. 10 In fact, you are doing loving deeds for all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. Now we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do so even more. 11 Aim to live quietly, mind your own business, and earn your own living, just as I told you. 12 That way you’ll behave appropriately toward outsiders, and you won’t be in need.

So then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to keep living the way you already are and even do better in how you live and please God—just as you learned from us. 2 You know the instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality 4 and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. 5 Don’t be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don’t know God. 6 No one should mistreat or take advantage of their brother or sister in this issue. The Lord punishes people for all these things, as we told you before and sternly warned you. 7 God didn’t call us to be immoral but to be dedicated to him. 8 Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn’t rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

4 So then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to keep living the way you already are and even do better in how you live and please God—just as you learned from us. 2 You know the instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality 4 and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. 5 Don’t be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don’t know God. 6 No one should mistreat or take advantage of their brother or sister in this issue. The Lord punishes people for all these things, as we told you before and sternly warned you. 7 God didn’t call us to be immoral but to be dedicated to him. 8 Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn’t rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

9 You don’t need us to write about loving your brothers and sisters because God has already taught you to love each other. 10 In fact, you are doing loving deeds for all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. Now we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do so even more. 11 Aim to live quietly, mind your own business, and earn your own living, just as I told you. 12 That way you’ll behave appropriately toward outsiders, and you won’t be in need.

Paul starts by telling them to keep doing what they’re doing, and letting them know another area that needs transformed. Paul says they’ve been told and know that true and total dedication to God is what a life of faith is marked by which they are living out, and now Paul pushes into them the need for full transformation, for God to have full control, and steps into an area not all of them have changed. And perhaps this is a moment where a helpful reminder of what life in the Graeco-Roman world, and especially a large, predominantly Greek city like Thessalonica is like. To say that Greek culture had a loose sexual ethic would be akin to saying OU and OSU combined to score a few points at Bedlam this year. And the city of Thessaloniki promoted this type of sexual ethic with a large temple to Aphrodite, goddess of love, pleasure, and procreation. And it shouldn’t be surprising that this topic is the one Paul has to address with them because of how central that way of life was to good citizens of Thessaloniki. For the Jewish members of the church at Thessaloniki, this isn’t as big a draw, but for the Greek members of the church- and says their several- leaving behind that part of the Greek culture is a real challenge. This is the reason that verse 5 reads the way it does, “like the gentiles who don’t know God.” Paul writes these words to the gentile church members- the ones who do know God. That’s not to say that Paul’s words here only apply to gentiles- they obviously apply to all. But they have a specific context that is rooted in the Greek culture and local worship of Aphrodite that has drawn Greek believers not to let go of this cultural influence. And remember, when we talk about these Greek believers, we are talking about a people who have had a loose sexual ethic is ingrained in you from birth. They are having to unlearn, to let go of, decades of teaching and examples. And at the center of it all for Paul is this idea of control. Don’t let these urges control you, don’t let those passions be what makes decisions for you, don’t let them be what decides what direction you go. And this is more than just a polemic against a lose sexual ethic- Paul is taking a stand here against the culture as a whole that these believers still live in, work in, and are drawn to participate in on a daily basis. In essence, Paul is telling them not to simply repeat what they’ve always done because they’ve always done it. If they are people of the spirit, then they will reject the cultural call to the let the past dictate the future- to simply let what you’ve always done be what you will always do. God has called them to something different- something more, and if they reject Paul’s teaching here and continue to let the cultural norm dictate their actions, then they have effectively communicated which they value more between God and culture. So instead of giving into these urges, Paul tells them that control over their lives and actions as faithful believers belongs only in the hands of God- only the spirit and will of God should have control over their lives. And giving control to God is what true, pure dedication looks like. Giving control to God in this area of their lives is the next step as they move away from their cultural norms and embrace a new way of living in Jesus.
combined to score a few points at bedlam this year

What Has Control?

The application of this text extends far beyond sexual ethics. When we recognize the voice of the Greek culture as central, we can turn and apply this passage broadly to all the cultural standards, expectations, and norms that we often accept as a given without fully examining them through a lens of faith. It is clear to me that something will be in control of us, and while I like to think that I control me, just a tiny amount of self-reflection reveals that it often pride, greed, selfishness, personal expectations, or sheer stupidity that has the wheel, leaving me to pretend I’ve got it taken care of all the while something else makes the decisions. Its the reason Paul writes in Romans that the things he wants to do he doesn’t not do and the things he doesn’t want to do, he keeps on doing. We will be controlled by something. The question at the end is this- will we be controlled by the Spirit?
The good news for us is the same good news as it was for the first believers in Thessaloniki- its possible for us to live with God in control. The spirit of God given to us freely empowers us to overcome the powers that have controlled us in the past. Those powers that often pull at us are the sames ones that God through Jesus Christ has already conquered. We don’t have to keep picking culture. We don’t have to keep picking power, greed, sex, fear, jealousy, selfishness- we get to, freely get to choose God because through Jesus God has already chosen us.
So what is it that you give control to? Its way to easy for us to drive along, pretending as if we have complete control only to look up and realize that, because there are far more powers in our world that when recognize, we’ve changed lanes without moving a thing, slid sideways thanks to the spiritual wind and ice that exists in our lives. First, we have to recognize those things, those powers are there, fighting for control. So grab your phone and open up a note or an email to send to yourself, or grab a pencil from the back of the seat in front of you and write on the bulletin, piece of scrap paper, anything available to you, and write down what that thing is you keep giving power to instead of God. Paul named it for the gentile believers in Thessalonica- lets name it for ourselves. Now, pay attention to the ways that thing fights for control of you and find ways to instead embody the good life Jesus calls you to.
9 You don’t need us to write about loving your brothers and sisters because God has already taught you to love each other. 10 In fact, you are doing loving deeds for all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. Now we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do so even more. 11 Aim to live quietly, mind your own business, and earn your own living, just as I told you. 12 That way you’ll behave appropriately toward outsiders, and you won’t be in need.
Common English Bible (Nashville, TN: Common English Bible, 2011), .
Related Media
Related Sermons