Saturday, March 24, 2007

Saturday Sermon: Careless Christianity

Judges 17-18

The first hurdle on the Highway to Holiness – Careless Christianity, we think we can do things any old way we want to as long as we are sincere and God will be pleased. We are easy and breezy, but if we want to really move on with God, we have to get serious about our walk. It is not easy to walk with God, it is hard to keep step with the divine pace. We cannot do it our way.

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, but we put the cart before the horse. Romans 15:13 – yes there is joy and peace in believing, but the believing comes first. It isn’t that we believe if we have joy and peace. We must go from happiness to holiness as our prime mover, from self as Lord to God as Lord.

We search for the highest honor we can have for ourselves but in truth the highest honor we have is in serving and honoring God Almighty. This is what will truly satisfy us and give us the greatest honor. Then we can begin to understand what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Vs.1-5 – Micah and his momma might have been sincere in their desire to honor God, but they acted outside the known will of God. Sincerity is no substitute for truth. Micah made a replica of the temple and set up his own system, modeling it after the real but mixing it with the false.

Vs.6 – This story illustrates the spiritual condition of the Israelites at the time. The Jews of the OT are representative of Christians. Looking for an opportunity outside the will of God. Three main players: Micah / Levite / Dan – These people were in the covenant community but they were acting outside of it, like Christians who are saved but not sold out. There is one other player, the people of Laish, who got plundered just as Micah did because they were living careless. This story is the story of the church today and many if not most of its members. They may be saved but they aren’t sold out, not to God, and so they sell out to self in the name of God.

Vs.7-8 – Looking for a place outside of God’s grace. He was looking for a place that would give him security (silver), significance (suit), and sufficiency (sustenance), a place where he could have what was most important to him. He was looking for an opportunity outside the will of God. If you go looking outside the will of God, you’ll find a way out and a place to stay out.

Vs.9-11 – people are looking for some religious person or institution to legitimatize their personal paganism, thinking it baptizes their idolatry into sanctity. The Levite was a perfect example of a hireling, someone who served God (or an idol) for what it could give him, instead of serving to glorify the Lord. Micah was looking for legitimacy; the Levite was looking for loot. People play the harlot to other gods, or for a twisted conception of what they think is the real God. Not just for money, there are also emotional harlots who get into the ministry of the church because of their insecurities and need for approval. Idolatry is always looking for an opportunity.

Vs.12-13 – This was a false sense of worship and seeking God only for your own good not for His glory. All he was doing was carving his own concept of God he just wanted enough of God so that God would do him right but he was doing God wrong. If you aren’t content with what God provides you won’t be content until you make your own god and have your own worship. Both Micah and the Levite thought that they had found God’s favor. Is this familiar to you?

18:1-2 – The tribe of Dan hadn’t done their duty, and now they were looking for another opportunity (Judges 1:34). Looking for an opportunity outside the will of God.

18:3-6 – This shows what a spiritually confused time this was in Israel. Danites on a sinful mission met with a sinful Levite, and wanted to know from a righteous God if their mission would be successful. Then the sinful Levite sent the sinning men on their way with God's blessing. The Danites hadn’t conquered what they were supposed to so they took an easier road and the Levite hadn’t been contented with his lot so he looked for greener pastures.

Often immature Christians will find the going rough and will look elsewhere all the while maintaining the supposed allegiance to God and His ways, as long as those ways aren’t rough going. They also look for others who they think are spiritual to give license to their foolishness.

18:7-12 – the go looking for a place outside God’s grace and found other careless people

18:13-17 – they find what they think is God’s favor but they are looking in the wrong place

18:18-21 – His heart was glad because he was filled with ungodly ambition. He didn’t care about Micah, only for the opportunity he might get by being the priest for a tribe instead of a family.

18:22-29 – they go and take what God hasn’t given them. Just because you conquer doesn’t mean you’re not careless. Success isn’t spirituality. You need to think real hard about that.

18:30-31 – Idolatry creeps from one family to a whole tribe, it is always looking for the immature and discontented and backslidden. One flame of desire set a whole tribe on fire.

People are doing this all the time we see and read and know the ways of the Lord but we are looking for something else, we are looking for satisfaction outside the will of God. We see “do not be unequally yoked” but we see an opportunity outside the will of God. We see it because we are looking for it. We want it although it isn’t what God wants for us, but we think we can make it right. Just like this Micah created a temple replica and the Levite became a replica priest we think we can baptize an ungodly thing into sanctity by our own godliness and our own sanctity, as if being in our presence made something like that holy. No it doesn’t, you don’t sanctify that thing; it defiles you.

What you are doing is placing a value on yourself; in doing that you are saying that you will sell yourself for whatever it is you are looking for outside the will of God. Don’t fool yourself; you are selling yourself for silver and a suit! When you put a price less than Jesus Christ on your own head, you will travel farther down the road than you ever imagined because now anyone who provides more than what you originally bargained for will have your service, and although you might actually protest on the account of conscience, and perhaps some will have to force you at first, you will learn to like it. That is what hirelings and harlots do, they accommodate and justify. You used God as a means to an end and in the end; you’ll get what you deserve. You won’t move on with God in this life, and you’ll lose rewards in the next.

And so we’ve got to ask ourselves before we can move on with God, "Are we going to be one of those, like the Levite, who serves God for silver, suits and sustenance?" Will we serve ourselves? Or will we serve men, perhaps in the name of God, rather than God Himself? If you are not sold out to God you will sell out to the world.

God didn’t tell Micah to build another temple in his house, and God didn’t send that Levite out looking for another place to be a priest, and God didn’t tell the tribe of Dan to go looking for another place to conquer.

God doesn’t tell you that you can worship at home without ever going to church, God doesn’t tell you to find a mate outside the church, God isn’t the one who’s telling you that you need to watch Oprah or Dr. Phil for your spiritual food, God isn’t the one telling you that you can live with your boyfriend, God isn’t the one who tells you that conquering your career is more important than conquering yourself, God isn’t the one telling you to find your life outside of Him, God isn’t the one telling you that your happiness is more important than your holiness.

When we are looking to give God glory inside God’s will, we exalt the holiness of God.
But when we look for opportunities outside God’s will, we assault the holiness of God!

If you are a careless Christian, when the going gets tough and you cannot get what you know God wants for you, or you aren’t satisfied with what you think God is granting you, then you will find yourself seeking things outside the revealed will of God. Or perhaps you will be looking for ways to supposedly be in the will of God but out as far on the fringe as you can possible let yourself imagine. I don’t have to go to church, I can be my own priest, I can serve in some other way, these people can’t get to God without me anyway, they need me, and so on and so forth, we will make all sorts of accommodations in our minds as to why we are doing the right thing.

Careless Christians think they aren’t careless. They want to feel safe and significant and be satisfied before they’re willing to commit themselves to Christ fully, and that is why they don’t walk in fullness. They haven’t really decided if God is worthy, they base their feelings of worth upon God’s helping them, and they aren’t serving God, they are still serving the god of self.

You won’t know the fullness of God if you want to use God for your own ends. You can’t be filled with the Spirit and filled with the self at the same time. If all you want is power, position and prosperity you’ll go looking for a place where you can get it, and you’ll constantly see opportunities because you are looking for them. Looking for an opportunity outside the will of God. That is the first hurdle on the Highway to Holiness.

Think about it, and think about how many places this applies in your life. You sell out. You trade God’s best for much much less. That’s why so many people don’t enter into the fullness of Christ because they’re like the Levite. They’ve been serving Micah, and they think if they had the power of the Holy Ghost they could serve the tribe of Dan. All they are really doing is serving themselves, moving on up the wrong street, not the Highway of Holiness, but the street of self, and perhaps even calling it God’s favor. Are you viewing God as an end or a means? It is not about what you can get out of God, but what God can get out of you. Let’s be careful to remain in the will of God, and give God glory. Don’t go looking for a place outside God’s grace.


Sista Cala said...

Whew!!! I feel like I have been to church. Powerful Word. I caught on to the part about hireling or harlot. I remember a sermon title from my teenage days. "If you are a hired hand you might as well hang it up" The pastor was an old timey sort with very little education, but my was he anointed. His text was in the Gospels about the difference between a good shepherd and a hireling. Pretty good to remember that much, 25 years later.

Even So... said...

Bless you for reading that and commenting...I'm glad it stirred you, and I hope and pray it does the same Sunday to our folks...

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you only had one other person commenting on this post! I might have to get the CD as well.