Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Romans 7:22-25, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Matthew 7:7-8, Acts 2:42-47, Hebrews 10:22-25 Downloads & Resources Our Relationships Dr. Jon Morrissette - 12/1/2002 Consider Paul's words in Romans 7:22-25 (NIV), "For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God— through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Christians are frustrated by the division between our spirit and our outward actions. I have been thinking about these words of Paul’s for quite some time. Paul is vividly describing the frustration of every Christian in this room. The frustration isthe incongruity between our inner heart and our failure to fully obey God. Concerning the heart, we know that when we surrender our souls to Christ we receive a new spirit and a new heart that delights in obeying the Father’s will. Our new spirit and heart resonate with the heavenly Father and delight in serving him. This is why Paul says, "For in my inner being I delight in God’s law..." I would guess that if we took a poll, most everyone here would has an inner desire to please God. That is why you have come to worship Jesus Christ this morning. And there is no excuse for not having a right heart and a right spirit before God. A right heart and a right spirit is something God gives freely to all who ask. In Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV) God promises us a heart transplant. "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. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." God fully expects us and invites us to embrace such promises. In Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) Jesus says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." In repentance, confession, and baptism, we come before God seeking these gifts. We come asking for a new heart and new spirit, pledging our love and obedience, and freely confessing the desire of our heart. Once we ask and receive a new heart and a new spirit, the issue of our salvation has been resolved. We are God’s children. We are part of the family. We have the assurance of salvation. In our inner being we delight in God’s law. But our new heart and new spirit is like a barometer as well. So whenever we disobey God, our spirit becomes grieved. Our hearts become depressed. We lose that sense of peace and harmony with life and with God. The old sinful body is at war with the new heart and spirit. And this is the inner struggle that Paul alludes to in Romans 7:22-24 (NIV).He says, "For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" Paul is sketching a vivid battle scene. The battle lines have been drawn up. The old body of sin is at war with the new heart and new spirit. The new heart and new spirit is pushing against the current that it was once swept away in. The heart is taking its stand against the power of sin. Paul is voicing his frustration, his inner struggle, and his utter turmoil. He is essentially saying, "In my inner being, I delight in the law. But there are all these antagonistic forces in my life that pull me from loving God and keep me from pleasing him. There are all kinds of secular ideas and information and images warring against my mind. My body is flooded with all these seductive desires, lusts, and appetites that push me toward the very sins that my new heart and my new spirit detest. My godless culture is wearing down all my strength and my energy to please God." I wonder, do you every feel like the apostle Paul? He was so human. He was so refreshingly honest. "What a wretched man I am," Paul says. Then he asks who will rescue him from this body of death. The answer is Jesus Christ! God never leaves us alone in our struggle against the flesh. He strengthens us for battle. He rescues us. He saves us. He is our perfect salvation! Victory is ours! Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Christians do not realize how powerful our thoughts can be. This morning I want to reinforce what we have been talking about in recent weeks one last time before wrapping this series up next week. The failure of most Christians is not a matter of the heart or the will or the spirit. We love God. We sincerely desire to please him in all that we do. The failure of most Christians is that we do not consider how powerful our thoughts are. We do not fully realize how complete secular ideas, false information about God, and the seductive images of our culture can corrupt us. We do not consider how frequently we surrender to and are carried into disobedience by our emotions and feelings. We do not consider the magnetic pull of our bodily appetites, our desires. And I’ll tell you something else we don’t consider. This is a topic that we haven’t covered yet, but will cover today. We do not consider how fully our relationships factor into our spiritual formation. All of these things (our heart, mind, body, soul, and relationships) either support our spiritual formation or they can stunt our spiritual formation. In scripture we are instructed to align every dimension of our spiritual and physical existence to God’s will including our heart, mind, body, soul, and relationships. We should do nothing less than fill our minds with godly ideas, godly information, and godly images. Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. We should do nothing less than reprogram the emotions and feelings that so often dominate our decision-making and we should embrace godliness. We should do nothing less than retrain our bodies, our desires, our lusts, and our appetites so that they are aligned in obedience to our lord, Jesus Christ. And we should choose to cultivate relationships that will support us as we seek to please God in every way. We should cultivate relationships that will support us in our spiritual journey. The Bible tells us to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things. We are to set our hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. The Bible tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. The Bible also tells us to not forsake the Christian assembly, or one another. Remove any component, heart, mind, body, soul, or relationships, and spiritual disaster inevitably results. Ideally, as we give our lives to Christ we should make some basic changes. We should immediately begin feeding our mind on the word of God. We should meditate on God’s word, memorize scripture, study, and receive preaching and teaching. At the same time we should abstain from filling our minds with godless ideas, information, and images. When we give our lives to Christ, we should begin serving God with our hands, praising God with our lips, speaking the truth with our tongues, and start walking in obedience. We should do all these things until every member of our body is trained in patterns of godliness. We should surround ourselves with godly people who will support us and encourage us and hold us accountable for living the Christian life. But tragically, we don’t always make such changes in our lives. We keep listening and watching the same old stuff. We keep polluting our minds with secular images, ungodly ideas, and false information about God. We keep on doing the same behaviors that led us away from God in the first place. We allow ourselves to fall into the ruts and temptations of the old life. We keep running with the same crowd. Or worse, we avoid meaningful Christian community and just "wing it" spiritually, hoping that there will be a different outcome for us tomorrow than what happened today. In the end, all of this spells spiritual failure. The early church members aligned every dimension of their spirituality toward pleasing God. The early Christians never made these kind of gross spiritual miscalculations. Before the waters of baptism even dried from a convert’s garments, they were fully immersed in genuine Christian community. They were using heart, mind, body, soul, and relationships right out of the gate. In Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) we read, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." What was going on? What was the early Church’s strategy for spiritual formation? They focused every dimension of their human existence toward loving God. They made the kind of commitments that would lead to substantive life change. They devoted themselves to the study of God’s word, to preaching, teaching, worship, and prayer, so that their minds would be purified and renewed by God’s Spirit. They devoted themselves to the Lord’s Supper, the breaking of bread. They relived the image of Jesus Christ shedding his body and blood on the cross. They devoted themselves to Christian service, to offering their bodies as living sacrifices, to using their mouths to proclaim Christ and glorify his name. They devoted themselves to building redemptive relationships. These were relationships that offered encouragement and accountability to live for God. Their sincere hearts propelled them to newer and newer spiritual heights because they took seriously this idea of aligning every dimension of their spirituality toward pleasing God. What were the results? What were the outcomes? People were filled with awe. Their mouths were dropping open. Miracles of life transformation were abounding all around. They experienced deep joy and gladness. They enjoyed the favor of their culture. The Lord grew their numbers by thousands. Let me ask. When was the last time that you were filled with awe over the work God was doing in your life or in the life of someone around you? When was the last time that you saw the miracle of spiritual transformation unfolding in the life of someone who you helped point to Christ? When was the last time your soul was flooded with joy and gladness because you sensed God’s presence and work in and through your life? When was the last time you saw an entire community rallying around a local church because of the impact that church was making in changing lives? These aren’t intangible, idealistic, pie-in-the-sky aspirations. These blessings are accessible to us in this life, in the twenty-first century, in Springfield, Illinois. They are the byproducts of letting Christ transform every dimension, every compartment, every nook and cranny of our spiritual existence, including our heart, mind, body, soul, and relationships. There is a deeper life available to us all and that life can be discovered and cultivated and enjoyed and shared with others. The social dimension of our spiritual formation. I want say a few words about the social dimension of our spiritual formation. Hebrews 10:22-25 speaks of the great intentions we hold because of the new heart and the new spirit that God has placed within us. Hebrews 10:22 (NIV) says, "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:23 (NIV) says, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:24 (NIV) says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." But how do these great intentions get translated into life-changing realities? Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Intentions become reality through meaningful Christian communities. These are communities of Christians that support us in our heart’s desire to please God. Christian communities that are devoted to Bible study, scripture memorization, prayer, the Lord’s Supper, and to mind-strengthening spiritual exercises. Christian communities that are devoted to living obediently, to Christian service, to doing good works, and not just talking about doing good works. Christian communities that contain supportive relationships. These are relationships that foster deeper spiritual growth. Relationships that have the effect of iron sharpening iron. Relationships in which fellow Christians spur one another toward greater and greater spiritual heights. At Lakeside we are developing and offering these very types of mini-communities for you to get involved in. In your bulletin you will find a sign-up card.