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Get in Line_1

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Get in Line- Part 1

1 Peter 2:11-12

I want to read a fairly large portion of Scripture because I see a common thread running through it, and I want to preach about that common thread over the next few weeks.  We will start in 1 Peter 2:11 and read through 3:17.  Even though there are several different subjects to be found in these verses, they all come down to a despised and scorned 10 letter word.  Before I mention the dreaded noun, I want to fill your heads with some telling definitions.

The act of yielding to power or authority --Acknowledgment of inferiority or dependence-- Acknowledgment of a fault --Obedience; compliance with the commands or laws of a superior-- Resignation; a yielding of one's will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring—My personal favorite means to line up under, hence the title, “Get in Line.”  The word that is hated by young people, rejected by feminists, and denounced by liberal theologians is submission.  Why do people dislike the word submission?   For one, it has been an abused and misrepresented word.  But secondly, and most importantly, sinful man does not want to be under the authority of another.  Even a sinner saved by grace has been known from time to time to buck against the God-given authorities in their lives.  Tonight we are going to deal with an issue that we have all had a problem with at some point in our lives, and that is bringing the flesh under submission.  If the flesh is permitted to thrive in a believer’s life, it will be very difficult to distinguish the saved man from the lost.  I think most of you realize that this is a true statement:  Lost people are obsessed with seeing Christians stumble.  As a boy in my home and especially my grandfather’s home, it was a habit for us to criticize what so-called Christians were up to.  One man said it like this, “When a Christian walks above reproach, his enemies have no where to fasten their teeth on him, but are forced to gnaw their own malignant tongues.”  In other words, the enemies of God would love to sink their teeth into you and witness the tearing down of your testimony.  We may as well get used to the fact that people are watching us, and our biggest source of bringing shame to our Heavenly Father is found deep inside our vile bodies.

Alexander MacLaren commented, “The world takes its notions of God, most of all, from the people who say that they belong to God’s family. They read us a great deal more than they read the Bible. They see us; they only hear about Jesus Christ”

Jesus Christ put it in these words:

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Understand that the day you got saved, your address changed from the muck and the mire to Glory Land Way.  That is why the Holy Spirit uses Peter to remind us that we are strangers and pilgrims—this is merely a temporary dwelling place.

This world is not my home, I'm just passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

O Lord you know I have no friend like you
If Heaven's not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Once again, contrary to popular belief, I am not gong to preach a three point sermon.  We will just consider two points tonight and then we will shut it down and head for the house.

1.  To bring the flesh under submission, you must work from the inside out. 

Mark 7:18-22.

Fleshly lusts that war against the soul.  Because we are no longer attached to this world we must learn to abstain from fleshly lusts.  Abstain—to voluntarily restrain yourself.  We prevent our children, but we are to abstain as mature believers.  We simply don’t do that.  Fleshly lusts are defined throughout our Bible. 

Rom 8:5-9, 12-13.

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Gal 5:19-21.

War is a strong term that generally means to carry out a long-term military campaign. Just figure that that the enemy has decided to hunker down and is in it for the long haul. Joined with the concept of fleshly lusts, the image is of an army of lustful terrorists waging an internal search and destroy mission to conquer the soul of the believer.

Prior to conversion, all sinners live under the dominance of fleshly lust:

The key to abstaining from fleshly desires and defeating fleshly temptations lies in walking in the Spirit’s power

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

, and exercising a godly discipline

1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2.  To bring the flesh under submission you must let the disciplined inside find its way to the outside. 

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Verse 12 reminds us of the power of a godly testimony.  I do not promote lifestyle evangelism, but your lifestyle ought to back up what comes out of your mouth. 

Think about this.  What if you had the inner discipline down, and in your heart you were able to abstain from fleshly lusts, but outwardly you always failed in this area?

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

A stirring twentieth-century example of how godly living can influence the salvation of unbelievers comes from the events in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Philippines during World War II. American missionaries Herb and Ruth Clingen and their young son were prisoners of the Japanese for three years. Herb’s diary told how his family’s captors tortured, murdered, and starved to death many of the camp’s other inmates. The prisoners particularly hated and feared the camp commandant, Konishi. Herb described one especially diabolical plan Konishi forced on the Clingens and their fellow inmates near the end of the war:

Konishi found an inventive way to abuse us even more. He increased the food ration but gave us palay—unhusked rice. Eating rice with its razor-sharp outer shell would cause intestinal bleeding that would kill us in hours. We had no tools to remove the husks, and doing the job manually—by pounding the grain or rolling it with a heavy stick—consumed more calories than the rice would supply. It was a death sentence for all internees.

But divine providence spared the Clingens and others in February 1945 when Allied forces liberated the prison camp. That prevented the commandant from carrying out his plan of shooting and killing all surviving prisoners. Years later the Clingens “learned that Konishi had been found working as a grounds keeper at a Manila golf course. He was put on trial for his war crimes and hanged. Before his execution he professed conversion to Christianity, saying he had been deeply affected by the testimony of the Christian missionaries he had so cruelly persecuted.

I am fearful that many a lost soul has stumbled over a Christian’s poor testimony on their way to a Christ-less eternity in Hell.

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