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#8 Do As I Say, Not As I Do

September 8, 2008

As we come to the word of God this morning we will see Paul expand on his theme of no excuse before a Holy God! He has already painted a frightening picture of sin and its consequences but today if possible it is going to get even more frightening for today we are going to be confronted with our own fickleness, our own instability.

 

As the title suggests, men and women are always offering up excuses for their actions. And then they use the above adage; ‘Do as I say and not as I do.” In other words, they are saying “I am a Christian but don’t follow my example for I am not really living in obedience to the commands of my Heavenly Father!” Well then, if there is no evidence to your conversion then you are not converted are you!

 

Remember that Paul actually called upon his fellow believers to follow his example. How could he say such a thing? Because he was striving with all of his might to live in obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ.

 

We read in (Romans 2:9-13) There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10  but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. 12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.”

 

Paul said what he said because he wants his hearers to be solid, unmovable men and women of God! He wants what God wants; men of God who will stand firm in the truth, in the once for all delivered to the saints faith. He wants true believers who are ready for the return of Jesus Christ

 

He wants men and women of God whose lives have been founded upon the Rock, who not only say but do, for only such people can bring glory to God. James said that it is not the hearer of the word but the doer of the word, it is not the one who goes to church on Sunday and hears a sermon and then forgets what he hears, but the one who hears and then puts what he has heard in to action, who is the true believer!

 

Understanding the spiritual climate of the world today I think this is a timely message. We really need to stop fooling around, merely being Christians in name only and having ‘fun in the Son’ so to speak. Paul would tell us that we need to stop turning the grace of God into licentiousness. What that means is that there are those who have taken God’s word to mean that we are forgiven and so can sin all we want to. They teach that we have been given a license to sin. They take God’s word to mean we have been forgiven of all our sins; past, present and future so whoop it up.

 

Remember the scene in the movie about Martin Luther where the drunken man is relying upon a piece of paper to get him into heaven. He had gone to Tetzel the priest and, at his urging, paid money to receive an ‘indulgence’ which granted him complete forgiveness from all sins, past, present and future.

 

Now what was the first thing he did? How did he express his gratitude for such‘forgiveness’? The first thing he did was to celebrate his ‘freedom’ by sinning in the form of drunkenness and carousing. In other words he was practicing licentiousness; he believed his indulgence gave him a license to sin. Indeed that is what he had been told!

You may think that this is an extreme situation and besides; that guy was a catholic anyway!

 

Well did you know that we do the same thing every day whether we know it or not! By Gods grace we understand the scriptural mandate of holiness of life, of conformity to the word of God. We have heard the voice of God telling us to ‘come out from among them (that is the world with all of its wickedness) and be separate…”

 

But I would dare say that at some point of each and every day, , in some fashion; we put blinders on and plug our ears to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We decide to dabble a little bit in our old sin. Suddenly the stench of vomit really doesn’t bother us and we begin to reminisce about the ‘good ole days’.  We surrender to the tempter and say yes to our lusts that war against our members. And the truth of the matter is that we cannot plead ignorance for the scriptures have warned us again and again to be on guard, to be on the alert, to be watchful because our adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.

 

We know that each day our sin nature seeks to drag us down to defeat at every turn of the road. Our pet sins, those that we practiced with gusto before we came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, are those which are most deeply engrained in our minds for they are by their very nature, those sins which brought us the most pleasure! Therefore it is those sins which we must be most vigilant against for it is they which will most easily bring us down.

 

Now as I said, God has forewarned us against such backsliding and we should consider that an act of divine mercy toward us. He has shown us that He knows our frame; that we are but dust; that we are prone to wander away from the safety of the sheepfold like the dumb animals we are. It is only as we are standing on the solid foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ that we can even hope to serve God in a manner that will please Him. So we turn to the Law and the Testimony to hear those wonderful words of wisdom from the lips of the Holy One of Israel.

 

Consider these three passages of scripture and understand that they have been given to us to keep us from sin. The first passage is found in (Lu 21:34) where we hear our Lord tell us to…“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; Remember that we are all as it were, walking on the sea of the world with the wind and the waves of sin and temptation boisterous and it is most tempting to take our eyes off of Jesus and have a look around. Indeed our adversary the devil is waving his arms about and propping up some ungodly sin for us to ‘have a look at.’ But remember Peter! It is when we take our eyes of Jesus that we begin to sink. So Jesus warns us to be on guard! Be on the alert! Be watchful!

 

Next we have the words of Paul in (Ro 13:13) where he says “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing… The definition of carousing isa nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper, parade through the streets with torches and music in honor of Bacchus (the god of wine) or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends. The word therefore is used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry. Now who would ever think of doing something like that?

 

Note what else Paul tells us…“and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. Do you see the progression of sin here? Drunkenness and the use of pharmaceuticals both induce a lowering of the natural restraint that most people have and it is when men and women are drunk that or high that they fling off the restraints of society and have drunken orgies. It is also most often when men and women are in this state that domestic violence occurs.

 

Notice that all of the things Paul has mentioned are done by those who hate God. Oh they may not come out and say, “I hate God!” but by their actions their hearts are revealed. Jesus said they would not come to the light; that indeed they loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.

 

Though evil deeds being perpetrated by sinners in the daylight are on the rise as the restraining hand loosens its grip, still their favorite place is the darkness for they believe no one can see them perpetrating their wickedness. In (Ga 5:21)  Paul repeats part of the litany of the deeds of darkness; envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

When God delivers a soul from darkness to light, He separates us, sets us apart. He makes us new creations when we are born again. We were called out of our former manner of living and have begun a new life of obedience to our Heavenly Father. There is a distinction between those who practice sin and those who are redeemed but unfortunately fall into sin at various times and sundry places. The saints of God do not perfectly obey their Father Who art in heaven but the characteristic of their lives is one of steady obedience.

 

The opposite is of course true for the hypocrite, the one who wears the mask of Christianity, who holds to a form of godliness but denies the Power thereof. We have seen in our studies those who pretend to be Christians but whose real nature can be spotted if you carefully observe their lives. The false converts do not love Jesus and seize every opportunity to go back to the vomit of their sin.  Let us learn from these verses, the spiritual danger to which even the holiest believers are exposed in this world. In fact there are three points I want to make concerning the words of our text. They are the dangers of this life, the suddenness of our Lords return and our duty to watch and pray so as not to fall into temptation. Of the dangse of this  life our Lord says to His disciples, “Watch out! Don’t let me find you living in careless ease and drunkenness, and filled with the worries of this life.

 

Don’t let that day catch you unaware, as in a trap.” The context of these words; specifically the audience should cause us to tremble with fear for they were not addressed to the flesh gratifying Pharisees, or the skeptical Sadducees, or to the worldly Herodians. Jesus was speaking to Peter, James, and John, and the whole company of the Apostles. They were addressed to men who had given up everything for Christ’s sake, and had proven the reality of their faith by loving obedience and steadfast devotion to their Master. Yet even to them our Lord holds out the peril of gluttony and drunkenness, and worldliness! Even to them He says, “Watch out!”

 

The exhortation before us should teach us the vast importance of humility. There is no one so self sufficient, so self secure, so holy that he cannot be tempted into some grievous sin. Consider that Noah escaped the pollutions of the world before the flood; but afterwards he was overtaken by drunkenness. Abraham was called the father of the faithful; and yet through unbelief he lied and said that Sarah was his sister to protect himself. Lot did not take part in the horrible wickedness of the people of Sodom. He is called righteous Lot in (2Pe 2:7) where we read “and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” And yet he fell into the terriblel sin of drunkenness and incest while hiding in a cave.

 

Moses is called the meekest man on earth in the book of Numbers; and yet he so lost self-control that he spoke angrily and disobeyed the direct command of God to the forfeiture of his place in the Promised Land. David was a man after God’s own heart; and yet he plunged into both adultery and murder. These examples are all very instructive for us. They all show the wisdom of our Lord’s warning in the passages before us. They teach us to be “clothed with humility.” Our mindset should be “Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.” (1Co 10:12) The exhortation before us should teach us furthermore the great importance of an unworldly spirit. We are in the world but we are called to be separated from it.

 

The “cares of this life” are placed side by side with gluttony, self indulgence and drunkenness. Excess in eating and drinking is not the only thing that causes one to stumble.. There is an excessive anxiety about the things of this life, which is just as harmful to our spiritual prosperity, and just as poisonous to the inner man. We must never forget that we can make spiritual shipwreck of our lives concerning lawful things, as much as we could through the sinful vices laid before us in the Scriptures. The truly happy person, the truly contented person, is the one who has learned to hold the things of this world with a loose hand, and to believe that as he seeks first the kingdom of God, “…all other things shall be added to him!” {Mt 6:33} He has the mindset of the apostle Paul who said in (Php 4:19) “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. The blessed man of Psalm 1 is so because he meditates on the word of God day and night and practices the things he finds there!

 

The second point I want us to learn from these verses, is the suddenness of our Lord’s second coming. We read that “as a trap shall it come on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Lu 21:35) Just as a trap falls suddenly on an animal, and catches it in a moment—just as the lightning flash shining suddenly in heaven, before the thunder is heard—just as a thief coming suddenly in the night, and not giving notice that he will come—in the same way, so sudden, so instantaneous will the second advent of the Son of man be.

 

The precise date of our Lord Jesus Christ’s return to this world has been purposely withheld from us by God. “Of that day and hour knows no man.” On one point however all the teaching of Scripture about it is clear and unmistakable. Whenever it shall take place, it shall be a most sudden and unexpected event. The business of the world shall be going on as usual. As in the days of Sodom, and the days before the flood, men shall be “eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage.” I believe that very few people, even among true believers, will be found ready. Most Christians live with the same mindset they had before God delivered them. they arenot aware of this great fact and therefore they are not living in a state of thorough expectation.

 

But the scriptures tell us that In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the whole course of the world will be stopped. The King of kings will appear. The dead shall be raised. The living shall be changed. Unbelief shall cease as multitudes come to the realization of the truth too late. The world with all its worthless enjoyments will be wiped out. Everything we see and know will cease to exist and eternity with all of its dreadful realities will begin at once, without notice, without warning, without any time to prepare. “As a trap shall it come on the face of the whole earth.”

 

Therefore the child of God must surely see that there is only one state of mind which becomes the man who believes these things. That state is one of perpetual preparedness to meet Christ. The Gospel does not call on us to retire from earthly callings, or neglect the duties of our stations. It does not call us retire into monasteries to live the life of a monk or a nun or to become hermits. But it does bid us to live like men who expect their Lord to return.

 

Remember the night of Passover in Egypt. The people were directed to be dressed and ready to leave at a moments notice. They were to be ready! That’s the key. This same truth applies to us as well. This world is a temporary stopping place on the way to our eternal destination. We are merely passing through this life and we have just enough time here to prepare for the next. Therefore repentance toward God, a living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and holiness of life and vigilance concerning the day of the Lord are the only true things of value. The Christian who knows these things by experience is the man who is always ready to meet his Lord. He does not have the attitude suggested in the title of the message. He says and does. He practices what he preaches. There is no inconsistency in his life for he knows whom he has believed and is persuaded that He is able to keep that which he has committed unto Him against that day.

 

The last point I want us to see from these verses concerns the duty of believers in view of the second coming of Christ. Our Lord sums up these duties under two great headings. The first one is watchfulness; the second is prayer. Jesus says “Watch therefore and pray always.”

 

Here are our marching orders. #1, We are to “watch.” We are to live on our guard like men in an enemy’s country. We are to remember that evil is all around us, and near us, and in us.  We must understand the fact that we have to contend daily with a treacherous heart, an ensnaring world, and a busy devil. Remembering this, we must put on the whole armor of God, and beware of spiritual drowsiness. “Let us not sleep as do others,” says Paul, “but let us watch and be sober.” {1Th 5:6}

 

We are to “pray always.” We are to keep up a constant habit of prayer. In Ephesians 6 where Paul speaks of the full armor of God he mentions a piece called “all prayer”. Remember the words of the song this morning. They are the words of Jesus found in (Joh 15:5)  “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. Jesus is the source of all life.

 

In the first chapter of the gospel of John he speaks of Jesus saying that “In Him was life and that life was the light of men.”  If you pull a plant up by the roots it will die. Paul speaks of Christians as those who were grafted into the True Vine which is Jesus Christ. The illustration is unmistakable. The Vine is the source of life. We have life because we were grafted into that life-source. If we were removed we would die. We tap into that life as we pray, as we seek strength for the day from our Heavenly Father. This is not an optional exercise that we can take or leave.

 

We are to speak with God daily, and hold daily communion with Him concerning our souls. We are to pray specially for grace to lay aside every weight and the ability to cast away everything which may interfere with readiness to meet our Lord. Above all, we are to watch our habits of devotion with a godly jealousy, and to beware of hurrying over or shortening our prayers.

 

There is no such thing as a ‘christianet’, a readers digest condensed Christian who can get by on the bare minimum. We are either devoted to God or not. We either love Jesus Christ or we don’t.  There is no place for “do as I say and not as I do.” Therefore let us leave here this morning with a hearty determination, by God’s help, to put into action what we have heard. If we believe that Christ is coming again, let us be ready to meet Him. “If we know there things, happy are we if we do them.” {Joh 13:17}

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