YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO SERVE SOMEBODY

Rom.6:22 – But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

The point Paul is making in this chapter is the comparison to being slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness; there is really no middle ground. We all spent our lives controlled by our sinful nature, fueled by our taste for sin. Identifying with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection is the way to freedom from the power of sin. Once we see the great work of Christ through His death and how it relates to my death to sin, it puts us into a place for the transfer to be complete. We are transferred into another kingdom by faith, the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. We were once enslaved to this world, controlled by the dark power of this world. Now we have been joined to another. We are now bond servants of Christ. His power works in us to live a pure life. Here are the words from Bob Dylan’s song YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO SERVE SOMEBODY written in his gospel season.

You may be an ambassador to England or France

You may like to gamble, you might like to dance

You may be the heavyweight champion of the world

You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

CHORUS

You might be a rock ‘n’ roll addict prancing on the stage

You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage

You may be a business man or some high-degree thief

They may call you doctor or they may call you chief

CHORUS

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk

You may be the head of some big TV network

You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame

You may be living in another country under another name

CHORUS

You may be a construction worker working on a home

You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome

You might own guns and you might even own tanks

You might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks

CHORUS

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride

You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side

You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair

You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk

Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk

You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread

You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

CHORUS

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes

Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

I think you get the point, no one can live independently in this life, like Paul said,

Rom.6:16 – “you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”

LAZARUS

Jn.11:25-27 – Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.

I love the story of Lazarus. It was one of the last miracles in the ministry of Jesus and had to be the most important of all. After all, when Jesus turned the water into wine as His first miracle, we learned He would save His best miracles for last. Why is this miracle so important? First, Jesus always takes care of His friends. Are you a friend of God? That is what Jesus called His followers, they were His friends. This is what we are called to, friendship with the Lord. This is definitely our place of safety.

Next, we see a picture of why Jesus came in this miracle. Lazarus was dead, laying in the tomb for four days. There was nothing he could do to fix his situation. There was no doctor, lawyer, politician, or health consultant that could change these circumstances. Lazarus was dead. This is a picture of where all of us are without Christ, dead in our sins. The only solution? Jesus had to intervene and raise Lazarus and us from the dead.

We also see the way our circumstances effect others. When something happens in our lives it effects everyone in our world. Martha, Mary, and the whole town of Bethany were devastated by Lazarus’ death. When someone’s life takes a downward turn it effects everyone in our world. Seeing Lazarus’ family weeping outside his tomb is all too familiar. I have seen far too many parents, siblings, and friends weeping outside of hospital rooms, prisons, car wrecks, and rehabs. Our “deaths” effect everyone we know.

When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb their weeping was turned to joy. Lazarus was back. This is also a picture of what happens when Jesus brings us out of our misery, our death while we still live. Not only is our life resurrected, the joy of everyone we know is awakened. This is exactly what the ministry of Jesus is all about.

That brings us to Mary. Her weeping for Lazarus was over. Now she was crying tears of joy. It wouldn’t be long until these tears of joy would wash the feet of Jesus. She was beginning to understand who Jesus was and why He was their friend.

AM I FREE FROM THE LAW?

Rom.7:5,6 – When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.

Christians have bickered over this question since the days of the early church, “am I still under the law?” The answer is a definite and firm no and yes. This is actually the conflict that we as Christians always feel in our lives. We know our sins have been done away with and we know that the law was a school master that pointed us to Christ revealing our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. At the same time our natural sinful tendencies want to draw some conclusions. The reasoning goes something like this,”If we are not under the law then we can live as we please”. From that point there is no restraint and people tend to concoct their own set of rules that we should live by. The point being missed is this, Paul said in vs,4 that we are dead to the law and now we are married to Christ. If that is true then I have a new person I am loyal to Who actually lives in side me. The point Paul is making is this, if Christ is in us we are no longer living under the constraints of our own will power. Christ is in us living this new life in us by the power of His resurrection.

How does that pan out in my day to day life? We really have several ways we can go. First, we can just live a compromising life similar to the rest of our society saying that we are no longer in bondage to the law. The second way is adhere to some religious version of the law and try our best to live up to it (good luck with that). The third option is the one I think we should go with. If Christ is in us draw, near to Him, yield to Him, allow Him to begin to live His life in us and through us. What will the outcome be? We will live a life free from sin by the power of the Spirit, Christ will be glorified, and our lives will be filled with the peace of God.

EXPOSED BY WORSHIP

John 12:3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

It’s funny how worship can expose the heart of everyone involved. Mary had just poured out the fragrant oil on the feet of Jesus when another fragrance filled the room. It wasn’t enough for Judas to have his own opinions, he had to attack Mary and her extravagant display of affection. Why do you allow this kind of affection? Why do you allow this kind of waste? Shouldn’t we have fed the poor instead of wasting the oil on your hands and feet?

Have you ever wondered what was really eating at Judas? Sure, he was bummed about the apparent waste of resources (he had other ideas of how to use the money). That wasn’t the real issue; the real issue was the pubic display of affection. Judas couldn’t let that slide. It put too much pressure on him and the others. Were they expected to worship this way too?

What Judas did’t quite understand was what had made Mary this kind of worshipper? What had changed in the last few days? From something Jesus said we can see into the heart of Mary’s actions.

“For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.”

That was it! Mary seemed to be the very first from the inner circle to get the implications of His death. This is why He had come. Mary finally understood the source Of His mercy and her forgiveness. He was the sacrificial lamb that John the Baptist had prophesied about. Jesus had come to die. This is what exposed Judas’ heart. Judas wanted the power that would result from a revolution, His death would be the end of those hopes and plans. That’s why that blasted fragrance was so disturbing; it was the smell of Mary’s worship. This was the fragrant worship that sprung from revelation. Jesus had come to die for sinners, this was Mary’s only hope.

This brings us to us. Who is Jesus to you. Is He just a way for us to accomplish our earthly dreams; maybe business, ministry, or even family. Or is He more than that, maybe He is way more than that. How will you know? You will know when you next find yourself in a room where that aroma of worship begins to be poured out. It has a way of uncovering the condition of our hearts.

SECOND MARRIAGE

Rom.7:2-4 – For example, when a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. So while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries. So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.

I love to read the letters of Paul, he always points us to Christ. In this passage Paul uses the most intimate relationship we can have in this world as humans, the union between a husband and wife. Paul says that that union is spiritual and can only be broken by death. He goes on to say that if someone’s spouse were to die they are free to take another spouse. His point is this, the jewish world was married to the law. In Romans 6 Paul teaches us that believers have been crucified with Christ. That means we are dead. We are dead to sin and dead to the law. What is the result? We are free to be remarried. Our new spouse is Christ Jesus Himself. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this.

“As Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, the object of God in giving the law was to unite you to Christ; and, as he has died, he has not only abolished that law which condemns every transgressor to death, without any hope of a revival, but he has also made that atonement for sin, by his own death, which is represented in the sacrifices prescribed by the law. And as Jesus Christ is risen again from the dead, he has thereby given the fullest proof that by his death he has procured the resurrection of mankind, and made that atonement required by the law. That we should bring forth fruit unto God—.”

This points us to the greatest privilege we can imagine, we have become the Bride of Christ. We who were once part of a fallen race, captivated by sin and dishonoring the Lord with our every breath, are now spotless and pure; we are clothed in the wedding garments of the Lamb of God. Rather than dishonoring God with our lives we are now a joyful display of His glorious grace. Let the Marriage Supper of the Lamb begin!!!

WALKING THROUGH SHADOWS

Psa.23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

This verse has been a major comfort to dying believers for 3000 years. The amazing thing about God’s word is that it applies to many different circumstances. Even though this verse speaks of death I believe it also refers to the darkest of days in our lives when we may fear death or even wish we were dead. For the non Christian, we face the darkest days alone. It’s funny how the friends thin out and disappear when the going gets really tough, not so with the Lord. He is often more present when you face the valley of the shadow of death. Not only does He give us promises that He will bring us through, He gets in the middle of the mess with us. When we are at our weakest, He will show Himself strongest in our lives. Here are some thoughts from Albert Barnes on this amazing promise.

“Thou wilt be with me. Though invisible, thou wilt attend me. I shall not go alone; I shall not be alone. The psalmist felt assured that if God was with him he had nothing to dread there. God would be his companion, his comforter, his protector, his guide. How applicable is this to death! The dying man seems to go into the dark valley alone. His friends accompany him as far as they can, and then they must give him the parting hand. They cheer him with their voice until he becomes deaf to all sounds; they cheer him with their looks until his eye becomes dim, and he can see no more; they cheer him with the fond embrace until he becomes insensible to every expression of earthly affection, and then he seems to be alone. But the dying believer is not alone. His Saviour God is with him in that valley, and will never leave him. Upon His arm he can lean, and by His presence he will be comforted, until he emerges from the gloom into the bright world beyond.”

What kind of dark valley have you wandered into? You are not alone. As the Lord told Paul in the midst of his persecutions, “My grace is sufficient”. Sufficient ? I say more than sufficient. He is my light in darkness, my strength in my weakness, my wisdom when confused. He is my portion and my joy and more than enough no matter what valley I go through. Remember, it only the “shadow” of death.

SAVED – SAVED – SAVED

Rom.5:10 – For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Are you saved? That question may be hard to answer because we may not be sure what the person asking the question really means. In one sense I got saved in 1973 when Christ arrested me on the lakefront in New Orleans and I opened my heart to His love. You could also say I am being saved. The work of salvation, making us completely whole and holy, began when we first called upon the Lord. That work is truly a work in progress. His life in us is continually saving us. Another thought is that we will be saved on that great day when Christ returns. Then, and only then, will our salvation be complete. We will be like Him the moment we see Him. Here is how this phenomenon is described in the Wuest wordbook.

“The word “life” here is zōē, “the life principle.” The comparison is with death. Our Lord said to His disciples, “Yet a little while, and the world sees Me no more,” referring to His death; “but ye see Me: because I live, ye shall live also,” referring to His life in resurrection power. That is, in virtue of the fact that our Lord lives after death, He is able to save us completely and to the end. Salvation is in three parts, justification, the removal of the guilt and penalty of sin and the bestowal of a righteous standing in Christ before God’s law, which is given to us at the moment of believing; sanctification, the progressive work of the Holy Spirit during the Christian life; and glorification, the glorifying of our bodies at the Rapture. It is of the latter two Paul is speaking, since he is writing in a context of justification.”

So what is Paul getting at in this passage? I think the critical word is saved, sozo, which is a beautiful New Testament word. Sozo is describing salvation for the whole man. When we were “saved”, we got way more than just a ticket to heaven when we die. The Lord began to do a work in us by His indwelling Spirit. We are being daily changed, or saved, as we yield to the Lord. How are we being changed? We are being conformed into the image of Jesus.

FACEBOOK THEOLOGIANS

Rom.6:15 – What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

I have come to the conclusion that social media is the judgement of God on this generation. You might wonder why on earth I would say something like that. It’s really quite simple. Social media is the great equalizer. Anyone can have the mic and say whatever pops into their head. I am shocked at all the live preaching services that have erupted in the last couple of years on social media. The theology being preached would be quite humorous if it wasn’t so dangerous. One of the favorites is the “grace message”. You know, just like what Paul referred to in today’s verse. “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” Sounds shockingly familiar. Grace has been dragged through the mud to allow for Christians to live like all of the others in our godless society.

What is this grace that Paul was so adamant about? Didn’t Paul say that Christ justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5)? Absolutely. Everything we have ever done is absolutely done away with by the death of Christ. But this grace never stops there. We are not only forgiven we are changed. We have been born again. Yes, there is more than forgiveness purchased by the cross. The cross leads to the resurrection that brings us into a whole new way of life.

It’s amazing to me that the proponents of this new so called grace message actually think it is new. Paul was obviously dealing with it in his day, Augustine wrote volumes about it in the 400’s, Luther even gave it a name. He called it antinomianism. The preachers of this new grace message have actually just fallen into an age old cesspool. Just another reason to let your flesh take over.

Now let’s get to the good news. Grace is much more powerful than sin. The sinful tendencies that reign in the hearts of the lost and try to creep back into a believer’s life are no match for God’s grace. God’s grace is the luring pull upon our hearts to become captured and overcome by the love of God. The love of God is so much sweeter than the foolish pleasures of sin. When you fall prey to the Master’s love, leaving behind the old vices are not that hard. Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? To those that have drunk from the cup of grace the question doesn’t even make sense. Drink from the cesspool or from the bubbling springs of living water? What a choice!!!

SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.

UTTERLY HELPLESS

Rom.5:6 – When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

I wonder who really believes this verse? I wonder if you believe this verse? Utterly helpless; really? Have you thought of yourself as utterly helpless. These are the ones Christ died for, those who have no way to ever help themselves out of their dilemma. Several people come to my mind when I think of this verse. First, The demonized man in the cemetery in Gadara. Why would they chain this man up in the cemetery? Obviously he was left there to die. His life was over, he had no hope. That is until Jesus stepped off of His boat and onto the shore. “Come out of him”, Jesus cried. The foul, dark spirits came out and that man began a new life. What about Lazarus? He was pretty helpless, rotting in his tomb. Jesus stood outside of Lazarus tomb and cried, “Lazarus, come out!”. In a moment, Lazarus was hopping out of the dark cave into the glorious light of a brand new life.

If you think about it, all of us are utterly helpless. We are born in a state of sin, separated from God, with no way to save ourselves. Sin has dominated and destroyed us and we were perishing until we too heard the cry of Jesus’s voice, “Come out of darkness, step into the light”. Here is how Adam Clarke described this powerful verse.

“They were without strength; in a weak, dying state: neither able to resist sin, nor do any good: utterly devoid of power to extricate themselves from the misery of their situation.

They were ungodly; without either the worship or knowledge of the true God; they had not God in them; and, consequently, were not partakers of the Divine nature: Satan lived in, ruled, and enslaved their hearts. They were sinners, aiming at happiness, but constantly missing… And in missing the mark, they deviated from the right way; walked in the wrong way; trespassed in thus deviating; and, by breaking the commandments of God, not only missed the mark of felicity, but exposed themselves to everlasting misery.”

Yes, we were all aiming for happiness but happiness escaped our grasp. We had no way to come out of misery, we were utterly helpless until… Until the day He called our name. Christ died to save sinners. His help is available when you realize you need Him desperately.