Love is Disarming by Pastor Abidan Shah

LOVE IS DISARMING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

love-is-disarming

Introduction:  Today’s message is titled – “Love is Disarming.” In other words, love allows you to drop your guard. Have you been around people who have their guard up – they’re always tense and uptight, they have a defensive perimeter around them? Have you been around people you have to be really guarded with – what you say, how you say, when you say? What is the common problem in both situations? Lack of trust. Why? Maybe at some point in time trust was violated. Something personal or private was shared, some weakness or vulnerability was exposed, and now it is used against the person. During counselling, the wife will say – “He’s so shallow.” Then the husband will reveal – “I messed up years ago or I told her something privately and now she brings it up every time we have an argument and has told everyone about it.” The wife is provoking her husband and he is arming himself. Other times, some people are just easily provoked. Nothing is being done to them but because of their personality or their past experience, they immediately react. Like siblings in the backseat – “She’s touching me!” but the other child is 3 feet away. Love creates a safe zone where no one provokes or is being provoked, where people trust each other and disarm.

I Corinthians 13   4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Context: The Corinthian Church had many problems. One major reason for their problems was their nature of provoking and being provoked by each other. Their culture of jabbing and poking each other had come into their church body.

Question: Are you a person who is easily provoked? Are you the person who is provoking someone? I am talking in the context of marriage, family, church, neighborhood, workplace, and community. Do you feel like you are in an unsafe zone? Are you causing an unsafe zone? Are you saved? Without Christ, you are in the unsafe zone. He is the one who can bring you in the safe zone with God.

Let’s look at the words in Greek: “Love is not provoked.” The word is “paroxunetai.” It has the idea of “to irritate and to exasperate someone.” It means poking and jabbing someone in a subtle way that they finally react. It doesn’t immediately lead to full-blown rage but it does make a person feel “wounded or punctured by some sharp point.”

Paul also adds to this“love thinks no evil.” The verb “think” in Greek is “logizomai.” It can have several layers of meaning. It can mean “to count or to evaluate,” like Paul says in Romans 6:11 “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It’s like “thinking and mulling over a matter.” In some contexts, it can go a step further and have the idea of “planning or plotting evil.” In our context, it may have a double meaning of “sitting around and suspecting your neighbor of evil or sitting around and plotting evil against your neighbor.” There is one more meaning, a secondary one – “giving value or making much of.” This is especially strong when it is in a negative context like the one we are looking at. It has two implications. First, it means that you focus a lot on the evil you see in your neighbor. Second, it also means that you pay a lot of attention to the evil done to you by your neighbor.

Why did Paul bring this up in his description of true love? Because there was a lot of irritation causing behavior going on in the Corinthian church. There was a lot of poking and jabbing each other that was happening. History tells us that this was kind of common in the Corinthian culture. Let me give you one example. As you know, about a month ago Nicole and I were in Corinth, Greece. One of the most interesting sites is on the west side of the Agora, the marketplace, known as the Babbius Monument. It was a circle of Corinthian columns set on a square pedestal. What is very interesting is the inscription on the band above the columns. It says, “Gnaeus Babbius Philinus, aedile and pontifex, had this monument constructed at his own expense, and he approved it in his official capacity of duovir.” There are many monuments in the ancient world but not like this. You have to read between the lines to know what is really being implied. First, his name is a slave name. Apparently, he was a freedman who rose to power and became an aedile, a city manager. His job was to maintain the roads, supervise the food and water supply, organize the local games, among other things. He was telling those who were looking down on him for being a former slave – “I am no longer a slave. I am the city manager. Show me some respect.” But he doesn’t stop there. He adds another title to his name – pontifex, which means priest, probably to the patron god of the Isthmian games. Now, he was telling those who might be treating him like an outsider, “I am also the priest. I have spiritual authority now. You better show me respect.” Then he adds the line – “had this monument constructed at his own expense.” Apparently, people were spreading rumors that Babbius stole the city’s money to build the monument. This was his way of firing back – “Stop saying that. This is my own hard earned money.” The final line is really odd – “and he approved it in his official capacity of duovir,” which was a chief magistrate. Someone must have said – “He ain’t gonna last. Once he gets fired, we’ll take down his monument.” Babbius was sending a warning to them, “Don’t you think even about taking down my sign. I am the chief magistrate now.” This was a threat. By the way, he put a similar sign in four other places in the city! Every time people walked through the marketplace, they had to see those signs. This was part of the Corinthian culture – people were being provoked and they knew how to provoke others.

Now, there is a similar inscription nearby that we did not get to visit. It reads, “Erastus, in return for his position as aedile, laid the pavement at his own expense.” Again, this man Erastus was also a former slave who became the city manager. He was also sending a message to his critics that he did all this of his own money. Here’s something interesting – We don’t know about Babbius but Erastus was actually part of the Corinthian church. Paul actually mentions him by name in Romans 16:23 “…Erastus, the treasurer of the city greets you…” (Keep in mind that Paul wrote Romans from Corinth.)

Here’s my point: Provoking and being provoked was not only part of the Corinthian culture. It was also in the church! Paul mentioned this because there was a lot of jabbings and pokings going on in the church. You would hear a lot of – “Did you see how he looked at me?” “I know why she said that to me.” “One of these days, I am going to show her.” There was a lot of thinking and mulling over and planning and plotting evil happening. People didn’t trust each other. They only saw the evil in others. They only remembered the evil others had done to them. The Corinthian church was not a safe zone.

Sadly, this is true even today in churches, marriages, families, community, workplace. People are constantly constructed their subtle and not so subtle Babbius monuments and their Erastus inscriptions to provoke each other or respond to someone’s provoking. Are you the one who is provoking someone? Are you the one who is being provoked by someone? Are you the one who is constantly looking for the bad in others or thinking about the bad others have done to you? You constantly have your guard up.

What is the solution? To start with, remember how God loves you – He gives you a new identity in Jesus Christ. Listen to what Paul says in I Corinthians 7:22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise, he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.  If the world calls you a slave, God calls you free in Christ. If the world calls you free, God calls you his slave in Christ. Either way, God has given you a brand-new identity. You don’t have to live by your past or what the world says about your past.

So how are you to love others? 23 “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” In other words, stop giving in to the opinion and treatments of others. Stop worrying about what they are saying or thinking about you. If you have a lot of time on your hands, guard your mind. If not, you will pout, get upset, and start problems and then refuse to stop until those problems are resolved according to your personal satisfaction. You will become paranoid and build a Babbius monument to yourself. I’m not suggesting that you drop your guard against evil people. Instead, learn to be vulnerable. Disarm. Admit when you’ve messed up. Admit when you’re frightened. Admit when you’re lagging behind. Admit the truth about yourself.

For e.g. Swindoll gives the illustration of Uncle Zeke from Muleshoe, Texas. One of Uncle Zeke’s buddies was the blacksmith. They would spend time together and talk about stuff old guys talk about. One day, the blacksmith was working on a horseshoe before Zeke got there. He kept sticking it in the fire, pulling it out and hammering it. He did it again and again. It wasn’t cooperating so he tossed it on the sawdust on the ground just about the time Zeke walked in. Zeke didn’t know it was hot. He walked in, looked around, saw the horseshoe, reached down, picked it up, and dropped it right away. The blacksmith said – “Kinda hot, ain’t it Zeke…” Zeke said, “Nope, Just don’t take me long to look at a horseshoe.” How true that is of so many of us… Instead of saying, “Yeah, that was kind of dumb of me to pick that up” or “I should’ve checked with you first,” we say something similar that keeps us from looking vulnerable.

I think about Erastus who had his inscription on the ground. Why didn’t he remove it after he got saved? This is just my imagination. One day, Erastus and Paul were walking through the Agora and they came to that inscription on the ground. It was filled with bronze and fastened with lead. Erastus turned to Paul – “Paul, every time I look at it, it reminds me where God has brought me from. That’s how I used to think and live. Always telling my opponents how great I was and how I had climbed the ladder of success and power. But now, I walk on it and I remind myself that God has called the foolish, the weak, and the base things of the world so that ‘no flesh should glory in his presence.’” Later that evening when Paul was finishing his letter to the Romans and warning them to “note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17) and as he lists the names of his fellow ministers – Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Tertius, Gaius, he says, “Oh yes, Erastus, the treasurer of the city greets you.” If he wasn’t a changed man, God would not have included him in his Word.

Are you saved? Are you provoking or easily provoked by others?

 

HOW TO HAVE NEWNESS OF LIFE

HOW TO HAVE NEWNESS OF LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Newness of LifeThe Book of Romans is a corrective to a lot of wrong beliefs among Christians today. Warren Wiersbe begins his commentary on Romans in the following words: “If you are tired of all the wrong things in your life, in the lives of others, then Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the book for you.” In the passage we are about to read Paul wants the readers to understand that salvation is not just about forgiveness for sins, it is also about deliverance from sin. It is not enough to have forgiveness for what we have done, we also need deliverance from who we are.

Romans 6:1-4  1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

In the passage we just read Paul is going to teach us 4 important steps TO HAVE NEWNESS OF LIFE.

Application: Do you find yourself living in defeat? Do you find yourself frustrated with your constant battles against old habits and hang-ups? Do you wish you had the newness of life that is promised in the Bible? If yes, then this message is for you.

1. ALLOW GOD TO TEACH YOU ABOUT GRACE.

Background: In chapter 5 of Romans, Paul explained to us that all of us come into this world under the “share everything Adams family plan.” Under this family plan, our father Adam signed us up for the physical and spiritual death; judgment and condemnation; and sinners by nature. We were locked into this plan, never to get out. That’s why lost people do the things they do. Sometimes, even saved people live under the old family plan. They try to stop doing bad things and they do them even more.6:1  1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

–                They try to be gentle and loving and they end up getting angry and bitter.

–                They try to please God the old way and they fail every time.

–                They try to live free but they are still bound by old habits and addictions.

Jesus came into this world to bring us a second share everything family plan. Under this family plan, our Savior Jesus Christ has signed us up for abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness; justification of life (when God sees me, He sees Christ); and righteous by nature.

Previously we were under the condemned plan but now we are under the grace plan.

Grace = getting what we don’t deserve. More we sin, more grace we get.

For e.g. How would you like that kind of phone plan? More you talk/text, more minutes you get!

Anytime people hear about this “It is all by grace” plan, it does not fail that someone will raise their hands and say as in verse 1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?—“People are going to misuse it/abuse it/take advantage of it. You have to have some rules to keep people in line with their Christian lives.”

Application: Fight the urge this morning to live by rules.

2. MEET THE NEW YOU.

Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

What is Paul’s answer? 2Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Sorry, you are already dead to sin.

For e.g. The safest place in the world is in a cemetery. No one can hurt you. You may hurt yourself but no one else will!

Verse 3Or do you not know Paul is asking us “do you not know” the facts of your salvation? What are the facts?

3Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? What is Paul talking about? Now here is the heart of our salvation. We’re all born in the family of Adam– the family of sin. We have two problems—sins (things we have done wrong and do wrong) and sin (our sinful nature). Jesus took care of Problem #1 by becoming our Substitute – taking my sins upon Him on the cross. He gave me His righteousness. What about Problem #2—my sin nature? The Blood cleanses us from the debt of sins but we still carry the family germ of sin that was in Adam and was passed down to us. What we need is to get out of the family of sin. The Blood cannot get us out of the family. The only way to get out of the family is by death. Jesus not only died as our Substitute, but He also died as our Representative – representing our death in the family of Adam.

This was no half hearted/pretend/playact death. Listen to verse 4 4Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, In other words, God included my death in the death of Christ. In the foreknowledge of God we were crucified and buried with Christ.

Application: Most of us try to deal with sin by trying to suppress it and fight it. I am not going to get angry; I am not going to be envious; I am not going to lust. Before you know it, you are back in it. God deals with our sin nature by removing the sinner.

It’s not enough to just die from the old family. You also have to be born again into the new family. Verse 4 again: that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Meaning: Not only did we die in Christ but, on the third day, we were also raised with Him. We died in Him as the last Adam and we live in Him as the second man. Now let’s live as if you are in newness of life.

It’s not hard to take to heart that we died with Him. It is hard to understand that we are alive with Him. Listen to verse 5 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” Your death is past tense and your resurrection is also accomplished.

What is interesting is the imagery that Paul uses to describe this death to sin and resurrection to newness. It is baptism. The baptismal pool is really a coffin. Some people look at baptism as a non-essential. They say, “You do not have to be baptized to be saved.” That’s true but Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. It symbolizes our death, burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ. It tells the world that we have been united with Him in death, burial, and resurrection. It is a sign that I am now cut off to the old world and have entered into the new.

By the way since the earliest church history, the church always baptized the way we do it – Ephesus, Emmaus, Milan, Tunisia and on and on.

3. YOU ARE NO LONGER A SLAVE TO SIN.

So where are we now with our sin nature?  6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Someone says—why do I still sin if my Old Nature has been crucified? When a person dies, it does not mean that they are eradicated. The body is gone but the Spirit lives on—either before God in heaven or in Hell waiting for judgment. Our Old Nature is no longer alive in the flesh. It is only alive in the Spirit. We have been set free. Listen to verse 7—For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Application: Most of us try to deal with sin by trying to strengthen the Old Man—suppress it, fight it, deny it, train it. I am not going to get angry; I am not going to be envious; I am not going to lust. Before you know it, you are back in it.

God deals with our sin nature by making us weaker and weaker; by removing the sinner; by putting us to death. But He doesn’t leave us dead. He gives us new life. Listen to verse 8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

So what should you do with all this knowledge – Verse 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. God is not asking you to go crucify yourself or to go do penance for your sin. He simply wants you to reckon it.

Background: The word “reckon” can be a little confusing. For e.g. “Are you coming to the birthday party?” “I reckon.” It means “I guess” or “I think” or “maybe.” That is not the meaning here. The Greek word means “count” or “calculate.” It is a mathematical term. It is an accounting term. You cannot judge if the artist or singer or writer has been perfectly accurate but you can tell if an accountant has been accurate.

For e.g.  $5 plus $5 = $10

Meaning:  God is not saying “pretend that you are dead” or “do the best you can to play dead” or “act like you are alive.” He tells us to reckon because it is a fact that we are dead to sin and alive to Christ.” It is a command. The idea behind reckoning is “believe.” By faith, accept that “You are one with Christ.”

Let me warn you – the moment you start reckoning, be ready for a fight. The Devil will fight you tooth and nail. He will lie to you. He will point out all your faults. You will have to reckon every moment who you are in Christ. As long as we keep our eyes on Christ, we are able to walk this life. Every time, like Peter, we take our eyes off Christ, we begin to sink. When we abide in Him and obey Him, that’s when we walk in victory.

4. SAY HELLO TO YOUR NEW MASTER.

12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

Background: What the Bible is saying is, “Now that you know that you have died in Christ and are alive in Him; now that you have reckoned this to be a fact; what’s next? Your mortal body belongs to God. Your eyes/ears/mouth/hands/feet/every inch of you is His.

I Corinthians 6:19-20  19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

13And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Often people say, “If you want to be saved, you have to become a slave of Jesus Christ.” It sounds good. It’s just not biblical. God does not want my old self that was a slave of sin. He wants that which has passed through death to resurrection. He wants me to present to Him that which already belongs to Him.

For e.g. When we were travelling overseas, I gave a certain amount of money to the oldest two of our children. Just in case I happen to lose my wallet, we will still have some money. When we finally arrived on the other side, I asked them to hand it back. Whose money was it? Mine or theirs? Mine.

When I hear someone who claims to be a Christian say, “My money, My time, My house, My job.” You have a problem. Either you are still lost or you don’t get it. Everything is now His. I am no longer to sin because these eyes, mouth, hands, feet, everything belongs to Him. We are His slaves.

Application: You say you are a Christian. Are you a slave of Jesus Christ to holiness?

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