The Good Life

July 2, 2023 | Jake Thomas


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Good morning. My name is Jake and I’m interning here this summer. And you may see me around out. It’s very humbled to be here before you today preaching the word of God. So if you would please open your Bibles with me to Romans 13. And we’re going to start in verse eight today. That’s Romans 13. And we’re going to start in verse eight. And I recently learned that one of the fastest growing industries in the world is life coaching. If you don’t know what life coaching is, it’s people that hire clients and coach them through personal and career challenges. So in the same way, a basketball coach helps a basketball player become better at their sport, a life coach helps a person become better at life, to better organize their schedule, maintain their relationships, or just maintain healthier habits. And between 2015 and 2019, the amount of life coaches in the world increased by 33%. It also makes a lot of money this past year, a life coaching generated $2.85 billion, it’s almost 3 billion. And I bring this up because those numbers tell an interesting story. I mean, seems clear, people want to know how to live, they feel like a mess, and they’re willing to pay people a lot of money to figure out how to get their lives in order. And I think if people are willing to spend almost $3 billion a year, just learning how to make their schedule more organized. How much more should we care about our sanctification? Shouldn’t we try to get coached up spiritually? I know I feel like a mess I’m sure you often do as well. And maybe you feel like you need a spiritual life coach. But where do we go for spiritual life coaching? believe the Word of God is our guide for life. And the Word of God says live like the Lord. And that’s my main idea today is live like the Lord. Jesus gives us spiritual life coaching. And Romans 13. Eight through 14 describes three ways we can live like the Lord. So just in case you don’t know the book of Romans is a letter, the apostle Paul wrote to the early church in Rome. And you can see in the first half of 13, Paul has two main points he’s talking about. He’s saying submit to the authorities above you and pay your taxes. And Paul uses this illustration of money to transition to our passage today. So the first way, I’m sorry, she’s reading with me, please, let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. For whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, you shall not covet. And whatever other command, there may be, are summed up in this one command. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore Love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this understanding the present time, the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over the day is almost here. So let’s put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. So the first way, Paul says we can live like the Lord is give love to others. And that seems pretty clear from looking at verse eight. Look at Paul says, Let no debt remain outstanding. And so he’s still talking about money there. So remember, in the previous chunk, he’s saying, pay what you owe. And then he uses that to talk to to talk to the Romans about how they should treat each other. You can see he continues, he said, Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. So Paul uses the image of paying what you owe to the government to tell the Roman Christians to give love to others because that’s what they owe to each other. But he says is different than simply paying off your loans. Paul says it is a continuing debt. You can’t close the books on it. One cannot fulfill their love requirements according to Paul, so to give love to others is to love without limits. It is to love those around you increasingly and with no intention of closing the books. According to this passage, there is no limit or cap on the love you owe those around you. Paul is encouraging us to give love to others and to do so without limits. But this raises the question, how do we love each other? What does it mean to love someone else without limits? What is Paul asking us to give to each other? Where do we even learn how to love others? Fortunately, Paul gives us some guidance. At the end of verse eight. He says Whoever loves others has fulfilled the luck, to fulfill means to carry out or accomplish. So Paul is saying that whoever accomplishes the law or carries out the law, love someone. So let’s examine the law to learn how to love. And if you don’t know the law was a set of guidelines that God gave the people of Israel in the Old Testament so that they could live holy lives and avoid sin. Paul goes on in verse nine to list a few major commandments from the law, you probably are familiar with some of them, they’re part of some of the 10 commandments. You can see wrote down, don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, and don’t covet. But he says that any other command can be summarized with one command. Love your neighbor as yourself. So we see in verse nine, Paul is building his case for love being fulfillment of the law. But you see in verse 10, his thesis is summary point on why love is the fulfillment of the law. If he says Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. He’s saying that obeying the law, and therefore avoiding sin is how you give love to others. So love is the opposite of sin. So we observed a lot to learn how to give love to others. Thomas Aquinas once said, The law is a teacher. But love is the fulfillment of its teachings. Love brings the lots of life and gives it meaning and purpose. He’s saying the same thing that Paul is the law, it teaches us how to love someone teaches us how to give love to others. Think about this way. So in the same way that an engineering job is the fulfillment of a math class. Love is the fulfillment of the law. The law is the degree and love is the job. It’s how you use the degree. So obeying the law means not harming your neighbor. And if you look at all the examples in verse nine, you can clearly see that’s true. committing adultery harms your partner and your family. Murderer. Moving on, stealing harms the person that you’re robbing, we can clearly see the harm caused by those actions. But what about covetousness? Wanting what belongs to someone else? How does that harm someone? does it harm them the same way murderer does? It matter of fact, there’s a lot of things that the law of the Bible says our sin that don’t seem like they harm other people. What’s wrong about the stuff that’s inside of me? That can’t be that bad? Right? All sin harms others. Sure, coveting or wanting what someone else has, it doesn’t harm someone the same way that murder does. Yeah, it harms that person in your heart. It builds bitterness, it does. It changes how you view that person in your heart and it changes your actions towards them. And Jesus even said that hating someone in your heart is just as bad as murdering them. So every sin harm someone else as it affects your heart and your posture towards everyone around you. And so the law teaches us how to love and to love others, we should do things that won’t bring them harm, we should avoid sin. But what about when someone believes I’m causing them harm? There’s times when we as Christians we tell people about sin in their lives and that can cause them distress naturally. And some would say that being caused to be distressful it can be harmful. So should we should we say things that can appear to cause harm or should we be people pleasers instead and not say things that make Maybe are true, but it’s not going to float rock the boat. Yeah, it’s true loving your neighbor should it should never cause harm. Never.
But it can lead you to say something that can hurt a little bit. Honest love can hurt a little. But that shouldn’t have to tear us from being honest. Honest Love is the only way to lead the healing picture this way. We’ve all had that one job review, where our boss sat us down and told us some stuff that was hard to hear we were doing something wrong in our job or unsatisfactory. And I bet that hurts to hear a little bit. I know it hurt me. No one likes to hear they’re doing something wrong. It’s embarrassing. It hurts. But that’s the only way we grow. We get better at our job from hearing the things that we’re doing wrong. And honest love is the same thing. We get better at life we get better spiritually from hearing things that we’re not doing so well. So when we give love to others, yes, we should never cause harm. But honest words may hurt a little bit. The book of Proverbs mentions this when and 20s in chapter 2627, excuse me, verse six, it says wounds from friend can be trusted. But an enemy multiplies kisses. Honest love can be trusted. And Jesus gave love to others better than anyone else. I mean, Jesus gave love by die on the cross for us in the most famous verse in the Bible, John 316, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jesus gave up his life so that we could have life. He loved us so much, he gave up his own life. And we need to model him we need to live like the Lord and give love to others. But Jesus was also lovingly truthful, he said a lot of things that hurt the heart of the Pharisees and those who rejected him in his time. But he said those things from a place of love, a desire to see those around him grow spiritually and also achieve life. Not just that they could just simply grow, but that they could actually have life. So to all the believers in the room, we need to model the love of Jesus, we need to give love to others. So first, we got to consider whether we’re giving love or harm, we got to look at our giving habits. What does your bake statement say about the way you love people? Are you loving generously, or are you kind of penny pinching with the people around you? Look at your giving history, and then give love generously to others. And that can look like doing something really practical for someone, maybe you make a meal for someone and bring it to them or you wash their kids so they have a much needed date night. Or maybe you call that person that you know is going through a real hard time. Just think of someone to talk to find some way to give someone love practically this week. And maybe if someone needs some honest love in your life, they’re harming others or maybe harming themselves. And they need someone to say something that’s going to hurt a little bit. But in the end, it’s the only way that they can grow. So maybe save some honest love to someone this week. And also the church this is ground zero for teaching the world how to love the rest of the world to see the way we love each other and be like, Oh, that’s Jesus. That’s how Jesus loves people. We don’t always do the best job of that. That’s okay, we got to love each other, give love to each other so the world can see the love of Jesus. Live like the Lord, give love to others. So Paul says, give love to others. And then the second way, Paul says live like the Lord is Get ready for dharma. Get ready for dawn. So we’ll see in verse 11. Paul transitions to why he believes we should give love to others. Look at look at it. He says he says do this, which we all know now is give love to others love without limits. Understanding the present time now begs the question, what is the present time? Paul doesn’t leave us guessing Fortunately, you can see at the end of verse 11 and the beginning of verse 12. What he means by that? The present time Paul is talking about two characteristics. It’s the night before day and it’s the time as our salvation is nearer now than it was before. I don’t know about you, but that feels kind of strange, right? Aren’t I already saved? If Jesus in my heart, what is this night? He’s talking about? How can my salvation get nearer if I already have it? Firstly, yes, if you have given your life to Jesus and invite him to your heart, you are saved, you have salvation. He lives in you, you’ve been saved through your faith. But that’s not what Paul is talking about. You see, he actually mentions that time that you invited Jesus, he says, when you first believe that’s what we can do right now we can first believe in Jesus. So the salvation is talking about something different. But what is he referring to? The clue is in verse 12, Paul mentions a day. He said, he’s kind of saying like, we’re in a night right now and a day is coming. The Christians in Rome would have understood this reference as a reference to the day Jesus is coming back. The Bible often refers to the time Jesus comes back as the day of the Lord. And that’s why Paul is saying our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. It’s this idea of already, but not yet. We have already been saved. But there’s more to come. We’ve been given new life in Jesus now. And when He returns, He will take us far away from all the dark things of the night. Paul says the night is almost over. And I it’s easy to look out the window and see the night to see the darkness. And just look at the news story after story after story after story of death, pain, tragedy, and we don’t even need the news. I’m sure half people in this room have seen death right in the face and seeing darkness right in the face. Something’s caused you pain. And the good news is Paul says, The night is almost over. Dawn is coming. The sun is coming back. Jesus is coming back. He’s coming back for those who belong to Him. So it’s not just enough to recognize that Maureen is coming.
We need to get ready for dawn. And the first step to doing that is the wake up. Paul tells the Romans to wake up from their slumber. But what does it mean for a Christian to be asleep? That word for summer is actually where the word hypnosis comes from. So Paul is almost kind of talking about like this trance that the Christians are in, and that we’ve all been there and we’re really tired, and we’re not enough. And we’re not actually involved in the conversation around us. It’s that same kind of idea that for Christians, the summer is the benign off spiritually and not paying attention to what’s going on around them to not be in the present time. To be asleep as a Christian is to live in a way that doesn’t reflect the present time. The Christian is not called to sleep in. There are things to do before the sun rises. We need to get ready for Dawn, Paul’s saying wake up. There’s work to do. And what is that work? We know it’s giving love to others, right? But in this passage, Paul adds a sense of desperation to that work. And there should be this sense of urgency and how we get ready for dawn. Because we don’t know when the sun is going to rise. Even Jesus, he said he didn’t know in Matthew 24 Verse 36, he said, but about that day or hour, no one knows. Not even the angels in heaven nor the sun, but only the Father. Only God knows when that day is. So to prepare for Dawn, we must live like it could be any day. If Jesus came back in 10 years, would you be ready? What about one? What about tomorrow? Would your spiritual affairs be in order? Would you be ready to go? To be ready for Dawn we need to give love to others. And the most loving thinner Christian can give someone is life is to tell people they don’t have to live in the dark anymore and they can come live in the light. That is the most loving thing a Christian can do is to share the gospel. We need to give the love that Jesus offers to everyone and we need to share this with a sense of urgency because eventually we won’t be able to anymore. The only thing that You can’t do in heaven is tell a sinner about Jesus. That’s what we need to have this sense of urgency because time is running out to love others. So believers, ask yourself, Do I feel this sense of urgency about the souls of my coworkers, my friends, my neighbors, my relatives who don’t know Jesus. Because we know there is no middle ground, when Jesus comes back, you’re going into one place or the other. Heaven or Hell, forever. These eternal destinations are final when Jesus comes back. So we need to live life with a loving sense of urgency for everyone around us who’s in the night. And parents, maybe you already feel this urgency with your kids, your own becoming more aware of that clock ticking as they’re about to move out of the house. Or maybe your kids already flew the coop, and you feel like you miss your chance to talk to them about Jesus, to have spiritual conversations. Here’s the thing. You still have time. He hasn’t come back yet. Jesus hasn’t returned yet. And there’s no time like the present to start guiding your kids towards Jesus to give them the love that he offers. So keep feeling that sense of urgency but but let that urgency move you to give the love of Jesus to your kids. Live like the Lord. Get ready for dawn. give love to others and get ready for dawn. And the third way Paul tells us to live like the Lord is to Go change your clothes. So in the second half of verse 12, we see Paul tell the Romans to go change their clothes. He says the change out of deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. What is Paul saying by that? What are these of darkness? What is this armor of light? What does Paul mean by Go change your clothes? First we need to understand what these of darkness are. What is Paul telling they’re almost the change out of? Unfortunately, he gave us some examples of deeds of darkness. Look at verse 13. He mentioned is carousing, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension and jealousy. But he gives a nice little summary term in verse 14, he says these are desires of the flesh. So then what is the flesh? And why is it wrong to give into those desires? The flesh is a term used in the Bible to describe sinful desires. The party that wants to wear these have darkness because that’s what these a darkness are, is the fulfillment of acting upon sinful desires. But why are these actions sinful? What’s so wrong with about them? It’s because they cause harm to your neighbor. They are fundamentally on loving drunkenness and carousing, increase the chance that you could harm others or harm yourself and and cause grief for those that care about you. Sexual immorality dehumanizes the other person simply for your own pleasure. The battery leads to this not caring about those around you and making selfish choices for your own sake. The Ascension leads the broken relationships and causes harm through grief, and jealousy, much like covetousness builds bitterness in your heart towards those around you. Remember, Jesus said, hating someone is just as harmful as murder. Paul says these saints have no place in the life of a Christian, so they need to be cast off. He said that as well in the book of Ephesians. When you put off your old self which is being corrupted by us the sinful desires to be made new and the attitude of your minds and put on the new self. We as Christians are to remove these a darkness in our life to remove sin. Sin has no place in the life of a Christian. So then what is the alternative? What is Paul asking the Rome was the change into the armor of light Shiva. What does that actually mean? Look at verse 14, clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The clothes that Paul is asking people to put on is Jesus It feels kind of weird, right? I mean, how do you wear a person? What does Paul mean by that? So instead of these a darkness, Paul is saying, put on Christ. How in the world do you wear a person? CS Lewis has a great exclamation to that phrase when he writes, to be clothed in Christ is to embrace his teachings, his character, and his love, allowing them to shape every aspect of our lives. So to where Jesus we are the take our lives, and put them through his lens so that when desires are life pop up, we evaluate, is this reflecting Jesus does this desire does fulfilling it? Does it line up with the character of Jesus with His teachings with his love? And if the answer to any of those is No, we should not do that. That is a deed of darkness, and it has no place in our life. Where Jesus removed deeds of darkness, Go change your clothes. And maybe you’re hearing all this and thinking Sheikh This is a lot. How am I supposed to do this? How can I remove these sin from my life these these a darkness, but also give love to others and get ready for Dawn and change my clothes? I can barely keep myself together, my life is a mess. How am I supposed to do this, I need way more than a life coach. And that’s the beautiful part. When you submit your life to Jesus, and rejected these a darkness in your life. He Jesus he comes and lives in you and changes you. He gives you more than coaching he gives you life. Jesus, he does his work inside out, not outside in. It’s not that you remove enough sin for your life, enough DS a darkness that Jesus says you’re worthy enough I can come and live in you. You go to him with your darkness, and he removes it from you. And he lives in you then the outside stuff follows. He gives you a new heart, and then clothing to match. He removes the darkness in your heart and gives you a heart of light. So when you do engage with days of darkness as a Christian, the problem isn’t that you’re back in darkness again, the problem is that you’re just not living into who you are. You’re not a sinner anymore. You’re a saint. The Book of Ezekiel says the same thing in chapter 36, verses 26 When it says I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. God gives you a new inside and then your outside will follow. It’s inside out change not outside in change. Think about this way, change your clothes from darkness. The light is kind of like a reversible jersey. Like we’ve all seen it at like youth soccer, youth basketball, where you have your jersey and you have one color on one side and you take it off, you flip it inside out and you got a different jersey, it’s a different color. And they we’ve all seen it. I’ve definitely seen it where you go to the game and all the kids are wearing one colored jersey, but one guy shows up wearing the wrong color that day. Everyone’s wearing white, but there’s one kid wearing the blue jersey. But the thing about the kid in the blue jerseys that he’s not on a different team. He’s still on the same team as the other kids. He just doesn’t look like it at that moment. And that’s kind of like what DS a darkness are for Christians. They don’t change your team. It’s not that you’re no longer Christian anymore. This kind of make it look like you’re not on the right team at that moment. Let me give you an example. The summer of for my senior year, my youth group he went on a retreat to Estes Park, Colorado. It was a lot of mountain biking and hiking and not my favorite but a lot of other fun. Anyway, my friends and I we were some of the youth groups, leaders, and we were the older guys. We had grown up in the church and we were guys I will look to to be the example. And we were not those first two days. We just were very disrespectful towards the counselors who are trying to guide us through all these activities. We weren’t listening. We were joking around when they were trying to talk and we just kind of did our own thing. And the second night, our small group leader from our church, he sat us down and he told me something I’m never going to forget. He told us earlier that day when One of the counselors had come up to him. And he’s looked at me and my friends. It’s all these super disrespectful guys. Nobody said he asked my, my small group leader, hey, are these guys Christians I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life. You see me and my friends, we were wearing the wrong jerseys, those first few days, they could not tell that we were on the same team as everyone else there. But the good thing is that we still were Christians, we still were on the same team. So after hearing those words, that hurt a lot, me and my friends, we flipped our jerseys on, we got the right jersey on, and the rest of the week, it was like a night and day difference. We tried our best to listen and to be respectful to the counselors, and to love them in the way that they deserved. I’m so grateful that my small group leader and that counselor were willing to tell me something that hurt a lot. Because it led to my growth, it led to me realizing oh, crap, I’m on the wrong thing. And then moving forward. As matter of fact, Jesus was constantly telling people to change their jerseys. He was always telling people to leave behind their sin, and join him. And we need to live like the Lord in that sense. And be willing to tell people when they’re wearing the wrong jersey. So when you see someone you love wearing the wrong jersey, be moved by love to tell them go to and be like, Hey, I know you’re on our team, God, you’re wearing the wrong stuff, flip it around, let’s keep going come on. It may sting a little bit to hear that and to say that maybe. But in the end, it leads to healing, it’s much more loving, to give that to them. And when you realize you’re wearing the wrong jersey, ask God for forgiveness, remove the sin from your life, and then move forward into the light. Jesus is faithful to forgive us when we guilt to him. We just need to ask, live like the Lord. Go change your clothes. give love to others, get ready for die, Go change your clothes. These are the ways Paul says we can live like the Lord. And before we close, I want to talk to any skeptics out there. Anyone who’s not super sure about this whole Jesus thing, because maybe you spent your whole life hearing about religion and Christianity. And you’ve heard that Christianity is about doing the right things, or becoming a better person has got to get better at this, I got to become better. I’m here to tell you today that just isn’t the case. The Gospel, Jesus is about Inside Out change, not outside in change. Jesus, he came, died and rose again so that we all can have our sins removed from our hearts. He came to give us a chance to wear a New Jersey, not because we worked hard enough to become good enough. But through the power of the Gospel, Jesus makes us good enough. On the he makes it good on the inside, and then the outside stuff follows. And that’s the beauty of the gospel. And that same Gospel says that Jesus is coming back. Dawn is coming. Choosing Jesus is not a choice that you can always make, there is an expiration date. One day, you’ll be unable to invite Jesus into your heart, either on the day you die, or he comes back. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when. So you got to get ready for dawn. The sun is coming back and your only chance of eternal life is if he takes you with him. So I beg you choose Jesus. Choose eternal life. Jesus, He doesn’t just teach you how to live he gives you life. All you got to do is reject the deeds of darkness in your life and except the clothes that Jesus offers. He’ll give you life and live in your heart. So if you want to learn how to gain life, invite Jesus into your heart. And myself, Pastor Kyle, Pastor Brandon, Pastor merit or even the person that brought you here today would love to have more conversations with you about this. The sun is coming back, choose life with him. This is a choice that has an expiration date. Dawn is coming soon.
So to conclude, we can look to the Lord we’re unsure how to live. Paul tells us we can live like the Lord Then give love to others, even when it hurts a little. Get ready for Dawn, feel this sense of urgency for the souls of those around you. And then Go change your clothes. Make sure you’re wearing the right jersey. The nice thing is that we don’t have to do this by ourselves, Jesus, he changes our hearts. And then our behavior follows. It’s inside out, change, not outside in change. So give your heart to Jesus and let him teach you how to live. Live like the Lord. give love to others. Get ready for Dawn, Go change your clothes. We don’t need a new life coach. We need new life. Which is something Jesus offers freely. So if you feel like a mess, invite Jesus into your heart and He will not just teach you how to live, but he will give you life. Would you pray with me? Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for this opportunity for us to hear from you and hear what you have for us in our lives. And I pray that You would help us to live like you not so that we can prove we’re worthy enough because we know that’s not how it works. You work inside out, not outside in. I pray that You would help us to live into who you are when we accept you into our hearts. That we will model you in the way we live our lives. We would give love to others, we will get ready for dawn. And we would go change our clothes. And we would do this things knowing that’s not because we can prove how good we are to you but rather just us living into who we are. Lord, I pray that You would help us to live into that reality this next week and this next month and this next year. Thank you again for giving us love and giving us life and teaching us how to live and Your name I pray. Amen.

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