Faithlife Sermons

Growing in Christlikeness

Notes
Transcript

Introduction

Our next topic in this series on key Christian Doctrine is “Sanctification” or being conformed to be more like Christ. Some denominations out there state that the way that you become more like Christ is by doing works or actions in order to cancel out bad things or actions. Almost as though these actions re-justify them to the Lord. Catholics, especially, confuse Justification and Sanctification. As Baptists, we believe that Jesus is the one who justifies us to the Father with His work on the cross. With that said, from the moment that we are a new creation and are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, we are called to be conformed to the image of Christ. We call this process Sanctification. It is different than Justification in that Sanctification is lifelong action rather than a single act and is progressive. While justification will change our standing before God, sanctification changes our state on the earth as we live for Christ rather than for ourselves. is a great place to read about the practice of Sanctification, however tonight we will be studying a different passage in order to see how we can be more like Christ in practical situations. 1 Corinthians is a book that deals with a great amount of practical issues that Christians face. Corinth was a massive city in Greece and due to the size of the city, the church of Corinth was made up of people from many walks of life. Because of this, the church was simply confused in a lot of ways. If you think that our church or another church nearby is struggling with things, read 1 Corinthians and you’ll walk away feeling much better about yourself because these people were struggling with lots of issues! Because of this, Paul gives these infant believers some practical and theological assistance to help them out in their day to day living.
Our text tonight will focus on , , in order for us to see how we are to look radically different than the world around us - even during “gray” areas where our world and even other Christians might tell us that we have freedom to do one thing, we will see that our freedom in Christ supersedes our freedom as Americans.
1 Corinthians 6:12–15 NASB95
12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!
1 Corinthians 8:13 NASB95
13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
1 Corinthians
1 Corinthians 10:32–11:1 NASB95
32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. 1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
We will be looking at 6 questions from these couple verses in order to see how we should react whenever we reach a fork in the road that is a gray area that presents several “possible” options to us.

I. Will this action edify self?

The first question that we must ask ourselves whenever we are in a situation where we have “options” is to ask, “Will this action help me out? Will it build me up? Will it profit me?” These questions are important for us to ask because there are some instances where we are facing a situation that will not edify self. It will not build ourself up. It will not help us. Whenever we face such a situation, we should not do it. Whatever we do, we should make sure that it will build us to be more like Christ!
Paul writes in verse 12 of that there are lawful things for him to do but not all of these lawful things are profitable! Friends, there are things that the government says are “ok” or “legal” to do - but we know that they will never profit us! One such example that comes to mind is gambling. In the state of Missouri we do not have many casinos because they have to be build on a river/body of water, however, if you cross the state line at the Southwestern part of the state past Joplin then you’ve probably seen Downstream Casino. It is in Oklahoma and they have completely different laws and regulations for casinos. Because of this, they have casinos all over the place! Gambling is legal in Oklahoma and I’ve heard from some of my friends that it is exciting due to the adrenaline running through your veins. While gambling might be legal and exciting, I think that it is safe to say that it is not something profitable for a Christian to do.
Another such example of something lawful but not profitable would be taking your paycheck and spending it all on chocolate or a snack that you really enjoy. It’s lawful and it is something that would bring you some temporary satisfaction, but we can all agree that it would not be a very profitable decision. Likewise there are things that we can do, we have the legal right to do, but we should not do them because they are not profitable. They do not bring God glory and they do not build us to be more like Him. They do not help us so we simply do not partake in them. This does not mean that these activities are wicked or as bad as other actions are, but it does mean that we do not do them because we have other things to be doing that will help us grow into the image of Christ. Sanctification requires maturity. It requires you to take your eyes off of “what you can do” and fixate them onto “what Christ wants you to do.” This shift is difficult and we will never be perfect at it, but we must at least begin the process of dying to self and following Christ.

II. Will this action enslave my soul?

The second question we should ask after we determine whether the action will help us is to ask, “Will this action enslave our soul?” Paul writes at the end of verse 12 that he will not be mastered by anything. This must be our mentality today as well, church. We must not be mastered by anything except to be a slave of Jesus Christ! We must ask ourselves in the heat of the moment, will this action bring us into emotional, mental or psychological bondage? Will it enslave us?
We have all heard of the technology pandemic sweeping the young people of the world. Young people spend hours upon hours each day on their phones, tablets, video games, and computers. I am the biggest advocate of technology. I have benefitted from technology more than most people I know. I have been able to take online courses in High school, college and now in seminary! It has been a tremendous resource for myself. I love being able to play games with my friends and to keep updated with sports and news in an instant. I love technology and it’s not going anywhere - it is only going to get worse. But I’ll be the first to tell you that as great as technology is, the downside of it is significant as well. Face to face interaction is at an all time low, or so it seems. People lack basic communication skills nowadays and cannot carry on a conversation beyond 30 seconds without feeling awkward. I know this because I see it on a daily basis at Lebanon High School. Kids love their games and their phones, but they’re losing so many basic skills along the way.
We must be quick to weigh the costs: will this coming action or decision master us. As Paul writes, we must not be mastered by anything. I would sadly say that many youth are “mastered” by technology. There was a student who was given the option to either turn her phone over to a teacher (because she broke a school rule and had it out in class) or to go to the office and talk with the principal. You’d think that she would immediately give the phone to her teacher for the remaining 25 minutes of class, but instead she went to the office and got in much more trouble simply because she refused to give up her phone. It was as though the phone was a part of her being! She could not imagine going that long without it.
Just as this student was “enslaved” by her phone, many of us can be enslaved by things. We can be enslaved by our traditions, we can be enslaved by our jobs and even by our families. We know that we have things that we have to do, but whenever we reach a “gray” area and we have a choice in the matter we must weigh the costs and determine if the action in mind will enslave our soul. Will it bring about more harm than good and damage us?

III. Will this action exalt Jesus?

As Christians, we know that we are free from sin and death, but we sometimes fail to realize that we are slaves to Christ. He is our master. Because of this, we must examine if our actions exalt and make high the name of Jesus? Verse 13 tells us that, “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.” God will do away with the things of this world, they have an expiration date on them! Whenever we are facing a situation, we must ask if what we are doing is of temporary or eternal significance? If what we are doing is an earthly thing then we must make sure that it exalts Jesus and that we do it in love as Paul commands in . If the action has eternal significance then we must ensure that we represent Christ well to those around us. As verse 12 declares, the Lord is for the body. Our actions reflect the Lord to the world. That is a huge responsibility! We must make sure that our actions lift high Christ!
Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the bodyNew American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
comes to mind as another verse that puts this idea in a very easy to understand way.
1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB95
31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
Everything we do must be for the glory of God! Ask yourself, can I glorify God with this activity? Can I glorify God at work? You bet you can! Can I glorify God at school? You bet you can! Can I glorify God by volunteering at a church event or by going on a mission trip? You bet you can! Can I glorify God while giving into a sinful desire? No, you cannot. Can Can I glorify God whenever I refuse to do what His Word commands and I live my life according to my will rather than His? No, that is not bringing glory to Him. We must ask this question to ourselves each and every day. Not only this, though, but this question must be asked often throughout the day as well. As Christians we have a duty to exalt Christ in action and in word, how are we doing in this regard? Part of spiritual maturity and sanctification is exalting Jesus rather than exalting ourselves.

IV. Will this action encourage others?

One of the wonderful things about Christianity is that we are in this thing together. Our faith is an individual one between us and the Lord but it is also a corporate faith that we walk with one another and encourage one another along the way! Whenever we are in a situation where we have an option or a choice, our natural tendency is to pick the option that is easiest for us. That is a natural human tendency. As Christians, though, we are a part of a family. For some of you, your family structure says that whatever your mom says goes or whatever your grandparents says goes, but as Christians that family structure is different. We are called to look out for the weaker ones in our congregation and to ask ourselves if our actions will cause others to stumble. This is one of the hardest things about being a Christian, friends. It’s not about us. It’s not just about our family. It’s about the Kingdom and looking out for others.
In Paul writes that if food causes my brother to stumble then I will never eat meat again so that the brother will not stumble. This means that we live our Christian lives so that Christians do not stumble around us and so that non-Christians do not stumble because of us. The reason that we live our life in this manner is so that many people might come to know Jesus as Lord. It’s not about us, it’s all about Him! Sanctification is not a fun thing, church. It is difficult. It means that you might have to restrict your freedom and rights around some of your Christian brothers and sisters so that they do not stumble. To the world that sounds like a crazy thing to do. To many Christians that sounds like a crazy idea, however it is exactly what the Bible commands us to do! We ask ourselves, will this action cause someone to stumble. Even if the action is legal. Even if the other person is crazy for stumbling. The last thing we would ever want to do as a Christian is to cause someone to stumble into sin. To be the cause of someone sinning is inexcusable and we should seek to right that in any way possible.
Our actions should encourage one another. I love meat, and I’m sure Paul did as well, but Paul says that it would be better for him to never eat meat again than to cause his brother to stumble into sin. Friends, if that doesn’t convict you about some of the passions and actions that you love to do and how you should be willing to give them up if they caused a brother or sister to stumble then I don’t know what else will.

V. Will this action evangelize sinners?

Living with a mindset that life is not about ourselves but rather about Christ, we must point others towards Him. One of the worst things that a Christian can do is to look and talk exactly like a non-Christian. If you’ve been set free from sin and justified before the Father through the Son’s death on Calvary then you should look much different than the average Joe who believes that we are a cosmic accident and that life is nothing special. You must evaluate your actions and ask if they will help or harm your witness for Christ. We must live with the mindset that the world is a mission field and that there are billions of people out there who would spend eternity in hell if they were to pass away tomorrow. Because of this, our actions need to reflect the love and truth of Scripture and evangelize them. This requires intentionality and dedication.
Evangelism is not something that only foreign missionaries take part in - it is something that all Christians are commanded to do! Because of this, we must ask if our decisions point people closer to or further away from Christ. We must take the initiative to tell others about Christ and defend our faith whenever someone asks us a question (as we discussed during Sunday school this morning). This is another difficult thing to do consistently and it requires us to put ourselves last and Christ first. It can be hard to love those who disagree with us and people who are blinded by their own sin, but we must take the time to care for them and to allow our actions to show them the truth of Scripture. In all things we must remember that we were once lost, just as they currently are. Aren’t you thankful that someone took the time to evangelize you and to tell you what Jesus Christ did for you whenever you were a child or a young adult? We should be like that to those around us, even when its hard.

VI. Will this action emulate Christ?

Finally, we should ask if this action will imitate Christ. Not only should our actions lift high and bring glory and honor to Christ, but they should imitate Christ. The expression, “What would Jesus do?” is a good expression that is overused by many people, but it is worth mentioning here. We should genuinely ask ourselves, could we see Jesus doing this action or not? If the answer is yes, then it is probably worth doing. If not, then we should investigate if we should really be doing it or not. Could you see Jesus spending time with church members who are sick and at the hospital? Certainly! Therefore, that would be an action that we should certainly do as well. Could you see Jesus getting drunk at the local bar and participating in some immoral behavior afterward? No. Therefore we should certainly stay away from such behavior as well!
Sanctification is all about becoming more like Christ - therefore looking at Christ’s life and teachings is a great place to start in this process of dying to self and becoming more like Him. This is not an easy thing to do, though, because it handcuffs us from our freedom in some ways and the world hates this notion! The world says that you have freedom for a reason and to use it. God’s Word says that you have been set free, but you were bought with a price - the Son of God’s life. Therefore, glorify God with your body and your actions. Christian freedom doesn’t look like worldly freedom where you can do whatever you want whenever you want. Christian freedom instead looks like you being freed from the things of this world to instead focus on the things that matter in the next world.

Conclusion

Rather than focusing on what your freedom says you can do, the next time you are in a gray area with a couple of different opportunities, focus on which one brings the glory to Christ. In answering this question, ask yourself if the situation will cause someone to stumble. If so, don’t do it. Ask yourself if Jesus would do it. If not, you probably shouldn’t do it either. Ask yourself if it will bring glory to God and share the Gospel with the lost. If it will, then do it!
There are times in which we have freedom and either action will be “fine” and will not cause us to sin. Many Christians stop in the sanctification process right here and say that because of this, their choice is fully theirs. The issue with this line of thought is that Christianity is also a horizontal relationship with fellow Christians. We must do our very best to encourage one another and to build one another up rather than causing us to stumble. We must progress in our sanctification and not fall victim to simply watching out for ourselves but to watch out for one another in this thing called life.
Cling to Christ, submit to His will, look out for one another along the way and tell others about the Gospel. Let’s pray
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