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2006-04-02_The Spiritual Man_Sermon On The Mount Intro 6_

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Direction Directions

Sermon on the Mount Intro 6   |   Shaun LePage   |   April 2, 2006

I. Introduction

A.   As a man was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang. When he answered, he heard his wife warn him urgently, “George, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on Hwy 280. Please be careful coming home!” “I’m on 280 right now,” said George, “and it’s not just one car. It’s hundreds of them!”

B.    George thought he was headed in the right direction. But really he was going the wrong way. It is just as possible for you and me to think we’re headed in the right direction—spiritually speaking—but in reality, we can be going the wrong way.

C.   Last week, we looked at the three men Paul describes in 1 Corinthians: The natural man, the carnal man and the spiritual man. I set up three chairs to represent each of these men.

1.     Chair 3 was the natural man—the person who is in his natural, sinful state; who has not been “born again” as Jesus said in John 3.

2.     Chair 2 was the carnal man—the person who is a Christian, going to heaven when he dies, but living very much like a natural man; living a self-focused life rather than a God-focused life; living in the “flesh” rather than walking in the Spirit.

3.     Chair 1 was the spiritual man—the person devoted to God; who has the mind of Christ; a servant of Christ; a model of Christ to the world around him.

D.   We want to be in Chair 1. We want to be spiritual men and women. That’s the direction we should be heading.

1.     Only when we are spiritual people will we have the eternal perspective necessary to understand how Jesus could say in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad…!”

2.     Only when we are spiritual people will we have the strength to obey Jesus’ command in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not resist an evil person, but if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

3.     Only when we are spiritual people will we be able to model the command Christ gave us in the Sermon on the Mount: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you…”

4.     Only when we are spiritual—Spirit-filled and Spirit-led—will we fulfill our God-given purpose of glorifying Christ with our lives. Only then will we find peace, fulfillment and joy in the journey of the Christian life. 

E.    As we search the New Testament for directions on how we can head in the right direction—direction directions—we find that three commands related to our relationship with the Holy Spirit provide the direction we need to become spiritual persons.

F.    Now, I like to take something that is very common in our lives and transform it into a reminder of a significant truth.

1.     For example, the stars are used in Scripture to remind us our role as light in a dark world. Every time I look at the stars, I am reminded that there’s a whole lot more darkness up there, but the darkness doesn’t have a chance of hiding light. The stars stand out in all that darkness and the stars are what make space beautiful.

2.     Chairs are another example. We have chairs everywhere! My hope is that after last week’s sermon, every time you sit down in a chair you’ll remember those three chairs we talked about last week that represent three different responses to God. I hope every time you sit down in a chair you’ll evaluate yourself: Am I living my life as a spiritual man right now—thinking like Christ, serving like Christ and modeling Christ to the world around me? Or, am I living my life as a carnal or fleshly person right now—childish and selfish and not really any different than a natural, unsaved person?

3.     This morning I want to use another illustration. I began to think, what else is as numerous as the stars in the heavens? What else is as common as a chair? What else do we see every day, constantly? Then it came to me: The traffic light! This is a perfect way to illustrate the three commands we’re going to look at today and my hope is it will transform traffic lights for you. From now on, instead of sitting at a traffic light saying, “Green, green, green…” you can use that time to evaluate your spiritual life. Am I headed in the right direction—obeying those three commands related to my relationship with the Holy Spirit?

II.   Body

A.   Let the red light represent: Stop grieving the Spirit with sin.

1.     Here’s the basic premise: Sin grieves the Holy Spirit. So stop sinning and confess your sins to receive forgiveness.

a)    I can see you’re not moved. I can see you’re thinking, I’ve heard all this before. This is Sunday School stuff, for crying out loud! Don’t sin?! Come on! Confess your sins?! Tell me something I don’t already know… I knew you were gonna say that. So let me say this.

b)    Last week we saw that the carnal Corinthians were toying with their sin. Paul chastised them for not mourning over their sins! We’re not expected to be sinless, but sin-haters. There was grotesque sin in the Corinthian church. Listen to 1 Corinthians 5:1, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” But it gets worse: their response to this sin in their midst was just as bad—if not worse! Look at v.2: “You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.” They should have mourned over this sin—instead they “have become arrogant,” Paul said. Exactly what that means, we’re not sure. Maybe they boasted about it and were somehow condoning it. Maybe they were just ignoring it or apathetic about it. Either way, the correct response would have been to “mourn”!

c)    Listen to James 4:8,9: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.” This is the correct response to our own sin or the sin of others. Why? How do we know that? Because we know that sin grieves God!

d)   Turn to Ephesians 4:30. We are given an astonishing command here. How can we “grieve” the Holy Spirit? Look at the entire context in which this command is found. I’m going to read 4:17-32 and I want you to see that it’s a long list of sins. Read 4:17-32.

e)    What does it mean to “not grieve the Holy Spirit of God”? It means, do not sin! It “grieves” the Spirit when we sin. This is very important: the Spirit will not leave—He will grieve. Our sin does not cause the Holy Spirit to leave. It causes Him to grieve and mourn. Do you see the irony of the situation in Corinth? The Corinthians weren’t mourning over their sin, but the Holy Spirit was—He was “grieved.” The same is true when we sin and don’t mourn over our sin. We may not mourn, but the Holy Spirit will.

f)     Why does He mourn? Why should we mourn? Sin is a big deal! We don’t get it! We either don’t understand or we choose to ignore the fact that sin always causes death or pain or suffering. We think we can just mess around with it. Toy around with it. It’s no big deal. We must remember: Sin is so grievous and resulted in such a desperate situation that it required God Himself to die a horrible death in order to provide the only solution. Sin grieves God. It should grieve us as well. And our grief over our sin should drive us to deal with it Biblically.

g)    I want to mention three colossal truths about sin:

(i)   True believers are forgiven forever. “Salvation” means saved. Saved from what? The eternal consequences of sin. In other words, at the moment of salvation, we are forgiven forever from the penalty of sin. We will no longer face eternal judgment for our sin.

(ii) True believers can choose not to sin. In other words, sin can be prevented because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As we grow in our understanding of the righteousness and holiness of God through our study of His Word with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and teaching us, we gain an understanding of what sin is. And, we are given the capacity to choose not to sin. I didn’t say we can achieve sinless perfection! But, too often, we emphasize the fact that everybody sins, but don’t emphasize the fact that Christians—new creations in Christ—can choose not to sin. We don’t have to sin! We can and we should choose not to sin.

(iii)    True believers who choose to sin can be cleansed. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Again, the believer is saved forever from the penalty of sin. But, we are not saved from the presence of sin until we get to heaven. So, in this life, we are struggling against the power of sin in our lives. When we fail—choose to sin—we disrupt our fellowship with God. Confession is the key to restoring our fellowship with God. What is confession? I think it is more than just saying, “Dear God, this is a list of the bad things I did today. Please forgive me. Amen.” I think it is mourning! It is coming to our senses and remembering that sin is destructive and tragic and grotesque. It is mourning with God over our sin and agreeing with Him that it is destructive and tragic and grotesque. You see, God is faithful and righteous to forgive. He wants us to deal with our sin so we can get on with our relationship. He eagerly awaits your confession.

2.     But some of you are saying something very different. When you sin, you mourn. You feel awful. You know it’s wrong and you want to be cleansed of all your unrighteousness. But you can’t imagine that God is still interested. You can’t imagine that God still wants to have fellowship with you. You’ve failed so many times, you just can’t imagine God showing up to hear your confession anymore. Perhaps you were rejected by your earthly father. Perhaps he gave up on you. And somehow this has tainted your view of your Heavenly Father.

a)    Turn with me to Luke 15:11-24.

b)    Someday we’ll look at this magnificent passage in detail, but I want you to see one major truth from this story. This story is one of the ways Jesus described the heart of our Heavenly Father. This son sinned greatly against his father. He told him, I wish you were dead so I can have my inheritance now. When he got his inheritance he squandered it and ended up at the bottom. But he never stopped being a son. He simply cheated himself—for a time—out of having a close, intimate relationship with his loving father. When he grieved over his sin. When he turned back to his father, his father came running. He was eager for his son to return. When he agreed with his father that he had sinned, his father celebrated! He rejoiced! He welcomed him back with open arms.

c)    When we sin, we are saying to God, “I wish You were dead so that I could do whatever I want.” We disrupt our fellowship with Him. We never stop being sons—and daughters. We simply cheat ourselves—for a time—out of having a close, intimate relationship with our loving Heavenly Father. When we grieve over our sin and turn back to our Father, He comes running. He is eager for you and me to return. When we agree with our Father that we have sinned. He celebrates! He rejoices! He welcomes us back with open arms. Every time! “He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

d)    Stop grieving the Holy Spirit with sin.

B.  Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit’s will.

1.     “Yield” is a picture of what it means to say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” If you are going along in your direction and the Holy Spirit shows you that His direction—the will of God—is a different direction, you must yield to Him. You must let Him set the course. The Spiritual Man will recognize those times when he is at a crossroads. Will he choose the way he wants to go—knowing it is not God’s way? Or will he say, “God, You know best. I’ll turn from my direction and redirect myself in Your direction.” That is the surrender of the will.

2.     You and I are given a limited amount of free will. This does not contradict God’s sovereignty. Within His sovereignty, He gives us a limited amount of free will so that we can choose Him! We honor Him when we choose His will. We glorify Him when we yield ourselves to His guidance and say, “Not my will, Father, but Yours be done.”

3.     Look at Romans 12:1,2.

a)    To “offer ourselves as living sacrifices” means that we give ourselves to God. His will for our lives has now become more important than our own. 

b)    When we practice His will, we discover that it is good and pleasing and perfect.

4.     Now turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:19. Under #2 write, Don’t quench Him.

a)    The Holy Spirit is constantly trying to “light some fires” under you. He’s constantly trying to get you to “burn” with passion for Jesus Christ. When we “quench the Spirit’s fire” we snuff out those fires. We extinguish that passion by saying “no” to the Spirit’s leading in our lives. The Spirit Himself is not extinguished, but His work in our lives is temporarily “quenched” when we say, “Not Your will, God, but mine be done.”

b)    Grieving is doing the wrong things. Quenching is not doing the right things. Again, the Bible is the key—the source of these “right things.” The source of God’s will. As we study, the Holy Spirit will lead us in more specific ways and when we refuse or ignore that leadership, we quench what He is trying to do in our lives.

5.     Yield to the Spirit’s will. Don’t quench Him.

C.  Go where the Spirit leads.

1.     Read Galatians 5:16,17. It’s really pretty black and white. Either we’re walking in the flesh—that is, by our own limited, human, sinful nature—or we’re walking by the Spirit. We are fallen and unable to please God in and of ourselves. But the Spirit within us will guide us in a life that pleases God. Not only that, but as we walk by the Spirit, our lives will become filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. But we must “walk” in the direction He leads. If I have “yielded” my will to His will, saying I will go Your way, God, then the next step is to go. Turn from my sinful direction and turn in the direction the Spirit leads, then go. Walk. Follow. Obey.

2.     It’s simple, but not easy. In fact, it’s a battle. It’s “opposition” Paul said in v.17. We want to do good. We want to follow God’s lead. We want to do God’s will. But our flesh—that part of us that is still tainted by sin—stubbornly sets itself against the work of the Spirit in our lives.

3.     So, how do we do this? How do we “walk by the Spirit.” Turn back a few pages to Galatians 3. Let’s look at the verses we started with in this series on the Holy Spirit.

a)    Galatians 3:1-2. What’s the expected answer to that question? Of course, it is that they received the Spirit by “believing what (they) heard.” By faith! They received the Spirit by faith. That’s how they began the Christian life.

b)    Lewis Sperry Chafer—founder of Dallas Theological Seminary—said: “The Christian life is never likened to a balloon ascension in which we might go up once for all and have no trouble or temptation again. It is a “walk,” a “race,” a “fight.” All this speaks of continuation. The fight of faith is that of continuing the attitude of reliance upon the Spirit.”(He That Is Spiritual, p.132.)

c)    Galatians 3:3. What is this “goal” Paul spoke of? Becoming Spiritual Men—Spiritual people. They were trying to mature in their faith by human effort—which is a synonym for “the flesh.” You can’t do it! You must “walk by the Spirit” in the same way you received the Spirit—by faith. Walking in the Spirit is trusting. We not only trust Christ for salvation, but we trust Him for sanctification. We trust Him every step of the way, every step along the way. We “believe” Him when He tells us—in His Word—what is right and what is wrong. We trust Him when He tells us how to treat the people in our lives. We trust Him when He tells us how we should prioritize our lives such as “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” The Spiritual Man trusts the Spirit. He let’s the Spirit navigate.

4.     How does the Spirit navigate? It’s really quite simple: The Word of God. As we study the Scriptures, the Spirit teaches us more than what we can learn on our own—without His guidance. We store up wisdom and we learn God’s ways.

a)    So, when we are faced with decisions and choices, we will either have a very clear command from Scripture that tells us which direction the Holy Spirit is leading, or we will be able to discern God’s will because we understand His ways. We have—as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2—“the mind of Christ.”

b)    I know it sounds mysterious, but it’s really not. It’s familiarity. Now that Beth and I have been married for 15 years, I know what she’s thinking. She knows what I’m going to say. We’ve studied each other for more than 15 years! We’ve been together constantly. We’ve talked. We’ve listened to each other.

c)    The more you get to know someone, the more you understand the way they think. The more you get to know God, the more you will understand the way He thinks. As we cooperate with the Spirit and ask Him to teach us His ways as we study His Word, He gives us a deeper understanding of His will in any given situation. We may not have a chapter and a verse for every situation, but if we know God, we’ll know—or have a very good idea of—what He wants. Where He wants us to go. What He wants us to do. What He wants us to say.

d)    Go where the Holy Spirit leads. Walk by the Spirit, not the flesh.


A.   “The Department of Transportation has set aside $200 million for research and testing of an Automated Highway System. This system would purportedly relieve traffic woes with “super cruise control” in heavily congested cities. Special magnets embedded in the asphalt every four feet would transfer signals between vehicle and main computer system. Steering, acceleration, and braking would be controlled by sensors, computer navigation systems, and cameras along the side of the road. Control would be returned to drivers at their specified exit. Researchers and government officials claim they have the technological capability to address any potential problem. But one challenge they have yet to address. Says Mike Doble, Buick’s technology manager, “The only thing we can’t do yet is get people to comfortably trust the system. It’s not a technology issue. Would you drive, closely spaced, at high speeds, through San Diego?” (USA Today; 4/9/97)”

B.    That’s the spiritual life, too—trust! Are you willing to relinquish control? Are you willing to yield your will to God’s will believing that His will is always best? Are you willing to walk by faith that the Spirit will lead you into a life that is far better than the sinful life you will choose?

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