A Call to Holiness

Jeremiah had a wonderful calling as a prophet of the Lord.  God spoke directly to him.   He passed on God’s message to Judah.  He had wisdom delivered directly from God.  All great things, right?  This calling must have meant happy times for Jeremiah.

Well, not exactly.  You see the message to be delivered from the Lord was about the coming destruction of Judah.  God showed Jeremiah that destruction was coming for his people.  Why?

Jeremiah was God’s prophet speaking to the sin of the nation.  In order to show Jeremiah the desperate need for his ministry, God showed him the results of the sin of the people.

Jeremiah was obedient to his calling.  He called Israel to repentance.  For 40 years he spoke the words that God gave him.  He showed them the costs of their sin and how to escape.  For 40 years, Jeremiah went where God told him regardless of the risks.  It is a wonderful story of personal faithfulness.

Yet, it is also a terrible tragedy.

Jeremiah obeyed and told people what was coming.  The problem was the people did not want to hear it.  They loved their sin more than God.  They chose the things of the world over holiness.

In 40 years of ministry, there was no fruit of his calls to repentance.  No one listened to Jeremiah.  Jeremiah spoke the Word of God to God’s people and the people rejected him.

Not one person repented…and it broke Jeremiah’s heart.

He was God’s prophet and God would take care of him so his pain was not for him.  Rather, Jeremiah’s heart was torn because the people he loved were going to suffer greatly.  He knew it was coming.

It is no wonder that Jeremiah tried to stop being a prophet.  It was like seeing a truck speeding towards someone, yelling a warning and the person refusing to move out of its way.  Or people in the path of a hurricane refusing the order to evacuate because they love their home too much to leave.  The Israelites loved their sin more than they loved God so they stayed firmly planted in the path of the storm and pretended it wasn’t coming.

Do we ever feel like Jeremiah today?

Look around at the gathering of people that we call the church in the world today.  These are our people.  They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are our tribesmen like the men of Judah were to Jeremiah.

Within that church, there is a growing drift of God’s people willingly turning from the Lord and embracing sin.   We see Christians all over the world struggling against God’s holiness.    They are straining against directions that God put in His Word to protect them.  They are redefining what sin means and justifying it in the name of cultural relevance.  The Bible says the days are evil so what does that say about our relevance?

God’s people are eager to try out the shiny things that the world flaunts before us.  The church is fighting to get out of what they see as a Christian bubble to experience the world.  They want the freedom to experience all the world has to offer.

The very idea may make us want to weep like Jeremiah.  His nickname is the Weeping Prophet.  It is particularly painful for those of us who came to Christ later in life.  Some of the arguments are enough to make us want to just grab people by the shoulder and shake them.

Not because we think they are bad people.  They are not.

Not because they are not beloved of God.  They are!

Rather,  because it is obvious where our people are headed.  Sin always has consequences and like Jeremiah, there are many of us who can see it coming.

There is an interesting truth present in the Christian life.  If a person strains enough against God’s protection and willingly wants to experience all the world has to offer outside of the Christian bubble…that is exactly what they will get.  That may seem exciting if we never have experienced the world in all of its fullness.  If we have, it is experience that we stay far, far away from.

Those yearning to drink in the world will be allowed to and they will experience all the pain, sin, darkness, emptiness and general filth the world has to offer.  They will be run over by the things that they lusted after within the protection of the church body.  It will not be a fun filled experience.  God loves His people too much to reward sin.

Those of us who lived that life before Christ, we know for a certainty that it is filled with pain and darkness.  We shout warnings and beg them to turn away.  Jesus saved us from all of that….not into it.  We can say that until we are blue in the face.

Terrible, bleak, bitter and bankrupt…these are words that describe this worldly path.   The Bible compares the way of the world to being a blind man in darkness.

Someone who has lived through being hit by a speeding truck would never recommend it to anyone else, no matter whether the culture thinks it is acceptable.

When Paul is addressing the Corinthians in his first letter to them, he is dealing with just this issue.  They are believers but their hearts are with the world and not God.  In many different ways, they are making decisions as a church to conform to their cultural norms rather than God’s clear directions.  “Everyone is doing it and having fun, c’mon church we can too!” seems to be their rallying cry.

Paul repeatedly warns them to them just stop.  They are being foolish.  Following the wisdom of the world leads to nowhere but death.  The things that seem wise to the world are actually worthless.  The only thing that matters is what the Lord thinks is good.

In the midst of a chapter about brothers suing brothers, chapter 6, Paul seems to veer off a bit and adds this section:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Seems a bit strong if we are just talking about lawsuits, right?  What do all those other things have to do with lawsuits?

Well, Paul seems to be drilling down past the conduct of the church in Corinth, the symptom of the problem being lawsuits, to reach the actual problem.

The Corinthian church has forgotten two essential things we desperately need to remember if we are to walk a Spirit filled life.

1 – Where Jesus saved us from.

2 – Where we are Now.

The Corinthian church was saved out of a culture that loved drunkenness and excess.  They loved forming factions, suing each other and they loved sexual immorality.

The church was saved from that.  Yet, they had forgotten that it took Jesus dying on the Cross to accomplish this miraculous transformation and were dragging all of those back into the church.  They were pulled out of that living death and placed into a position of communion with the Living God and were treating it lightly.

We may not like to think about it but it is an affront to the cost paid by Jesus to willingly seek out the things He saved us from.

I was saved out of a terrible situation.  My alcohol addiction had me in a prison of my own making and it was slowly destroying me and my family.  Jesus saved me out of drinking miraculously, taking away the desire and need to drink that had plagued me from the time I was a teenager.  In order to walk with Jesus successfully, I need to remember and be grateful about from where He pulled me despite me.  A drowning swimmer who was saved by the lifeguard does not get up immediately after being saved and throw himself back into the pounding surf – that would be suicide.

There are many other similar examples.  Wales was a huge mining area where thousands upon thousands of miners spent their off hours drinking away the pain of their hard lives when the Welsh Revival sparked.  As a result of the work of the Holy Spirit the local taverns shut down – there was simply no one who wanted to drink their spirits rather than be filled with the Holy Spirit.

As followers of Jesus, our lives should never be about pushing and testing the boundaries of what we can get away with as Christians without sinning.  It should be about seeking to be a pure and holy, regardless of what the culture is like.

Paul’s list of the sins of the lost above is remarkable not because of the sins.  There is nothing unusual about sin.  What is amazing is what God did in response:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

We were sinners trapped in the Law of sin and death.  Jesus saved us from that.  Once that happened, we were washed and sanctified into Christ Jesus.  We were listed with Him and adopted into His family.  Jesus lived a sinless holy life. He is the maker of heaven and earth.  He is the eternal God.  And we live every day in His presence and with His Spirit living in us.

If we see where Jesus saved us from, sin and death, and what He saved us into, God’s family, how then shall we live?

Let us lived washed, sanctified and justified and stay out of the rough waters.

 

 

 

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