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Mark (6)

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Introduction: II Cor. 5:17 tells us that… If you have been a Christian for awhile, perhaps you have gone through seasons of dryness? Times when your relationship with Jesus feels more like a desert than a rushing spring. Perhaps its boredom, apathy, disobedience, life challenges, or several other possibilities but for whatever reason you know your a Christian but you feel very joyless. The hope we have as Christians is first that we know the Lord has great purpose for taking us through every season of life, but one of the key lessons we are going to dig into this morning is realizing our part in pursuing gospel joy. That the regular habits of the Christian life are a great means of experiencing an abundant life of joyful obedience.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Transition: Read Mark 2:18-22

We can seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness because Jesus has fulfilled the kingdom of God and our need for righteousness. Jesus is the messianic bridegroom who fulfills the kingdom of God. The anticipations of Old covenant promises of were spurred on by practices like fasting, however, since Jesus was fulfilling those promises they could no longer be motivated by those same old practices. The new covenant that Jesus makes requires new motives for practices old habits.
Transition: Walking through the passage seeing this truth emerge. Just explain the setting and point of Jesus’ parables. Then move on to the application question.
(Put this all in a paragraph somehow) vs. 18 Why were they fasting? Pharisees: John’s disciples:
The question in the last part of verse 18 is An attempt to accuse Jesus for not performing according to their so called righteous standards.
Lk. 7:24-35 John and his disciples fasted in order to humble themselves with anticipation of a coming Savior. Jesus is not fasting because He is the anticipated Savior fulfilling the time and bringing the kingdom of God near!
Luke 7:24–35 ESV
When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
Transition: Jesus offers them 3 explanations for why they are not fasting.
2. vs. 19-20 See Is. 62:5 The practice is absent because the bridegroom is present.
3. vs. 21& vs. 22 Parables point: It would be ludicrous to maintain the old motive for practicing fasting when the new has come. Jesus had been preaching that he kingdom is at hand which in turn makes the old ways new. What was promised in the Old Covenant has been fulfilled in the new. And it wouldn't make since to try to keep the same motive for old practices when the new has come. Plainly, the very presence of Jesus is the new cloth and the new wine. He is the fulfillment of the kingdom. He is the promised messiah. He is the savior for whom they have been fasting with expectation for.
Transition: What role does an old habit like fasting have in the life of a New Covenant disciple of Jesus?
Story: Practicing the fundamentals in order to enjoy the game. In same way the times that I am the most joyless in my relationship with Christ is when I am practicing the fundamentals of the Christian faith with the wrong motive!
Point: Before we look at the role of fasting in the life of a Christ I want to first offer some observations about keeping the right motives! The reason we can and should actively practice the fundamentals of the faith is because God has made it possible. We can energetically pursue Him because He pursued us. We can wholeheartedly love Him because He first loved us. WE CAN SEEK THE KINGDOM OF GOD BECAUSE THE KINGDOM IS FULFILLED IN CHRIST. We can practice righteousness because we are imputed with the righteousness of Christ alone by faith alone. By His grace we practice habits or fundamentals of grace.
A major warning that comes from this passage is the danger of self righteous religion, which is Believing that the practice of things like fasting is what sets us apart to God, rather than Christ. We run hard after God not in order to be accepted by God but because in Christ we are accepted by God.
Another major warning is the danger of thinking that we are mere puppets in our pursuit of God. That we just numbly live out our faith without any personal seeking, knocking, and working. The warning is against the idea that we can remain stagnant, apathetic, and passive and still somehow grow in Godliness.
The distinction that I'm drawing focus upon is the difference between Justification and Sanctification.
In order to be justified or declared righteous by God we must trust in the completed work of Christ on our behalf. In other words, in order to be accepted by God we need a Savior to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Namely, pay the penalty for our sin. As the perfect sacrifice for sin Jesus died , was buried, and raised from the dead. By the grace of God when we are awakened to that good news, we are called upon to trust in Christ alone for our justification. This is nothing of our own merit, nothing of our own achievement, nothing of our own effort but rather all of Christ. We simply respond as John 1:12 says...
John 1:12 ESV
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
God did not need our cooperation to initiate our justification. However, this truth does not diminish the great role of our cooperation in our sanctification. When we are made spiritually alive in Christ we have a new heart beat that is constantly being transformed to beat in rhythm with Christ. When we are born again by the Holy Spirit we are given new desires. Evidence of that is seen when we begin to do as Philippians 2:12-13 says…
Philippians 2:12–13 ESV
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
This is essential to understand because as we begin to look at some of the fundamentals of the faith, like fasting, we need to realize that these are habits to help us grow in the grace of God. These are habits that the Holy Spirit empowers in order that we not simply be declared righteous, but that we might actually practice righteousness! Joy in our justification.
Transition: For our remaining time this morning we are going to explore some habits for practicing righteousness. Fundamentals of the faith. Normal rhythms to help us grow in Christ. Perpetual and continual basics of following Christ that will increase our enjoyment of the good pleasure of God! I'm going to point out three such habits from Matthew 6, but only focus attention on fasting.

Habits for seeking the kingdom and practicing righteousness. (Matt. 6)

Fundamentals for growing in gospel joy.

Have I been declared righteous?

How am I practicing righteousness?

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