Fruit_Basket

Sermon Script: Romans 8:1
Sermon Purpose: What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?
Sermon Title: Bearing Spiritual Fruit

I hate to do it, but I’m going to start this morning with a cranky pastor moment. For the last couple of weeks I have been trying very hard to give myself a Sabbath from Facebook. I am not going to say I have been successful, but I did manage to give myself a couple of days away from social media. When I logged back into Facebook I read these words and they really made me angry.

I believe in Jesus Christ and accepted him as my savior. One Facebooker has challenged all believers to put this on their wall. In The Bible it says, if you deny me in front of your peers, ill deny you in front of my father at the Gates of Heaven. This is simple. If you love God, and you are not afraid to show it re-post. Just copy and paste this. No shame here!! So very blessed!

I think what frustrated me most about this message is the guilt. I really very strongly dislike guilty messages from Christians on Facebook. If you believe as I believe then you will repost this. However, if you do not believe as I believe then you are not a Christian. The shaming comes from this idea if I do not repost their words, or their interpretation of a random verse of Scripture then I am not a Christian. To be perfectly honest, I hate this. I hate it because the Facebooker doing the challenging is condemning others who refuse to repost their guilt. It takes the form of a backhanded praise of God, or a backhanded condemnation. Please hear me when I tell you this. No one has the right to judge or condemn another except Jesus Christ. So I’ll tell you what I think. I think this world needs a little less Christian guilt and shaming on Facebook, and a little more Christian action out in the world. Or to quote another king, what this world needs is, “a little less conversation and a little more action.” [1]

By Christian action I mean we need to start by recognizing one simple truth. God loves everybody in this room; and God loves everybody outside those doors. God sent God’s son Jesus Christ to die and be raised from the dead so we would be free from the chains of sin and death. Amen? Amen! Amen?! Amen!!There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). John Wesley spent a whole sermon trying to explain this very point.[2] Wesley explained it this way. Those who are in Christ have had their old sins washed away. Jesus took all of your sins and threw them down a hole so deep your sins cannot even be remembered. Jesus even took the guilt you feel for your past sins and threw your guilt down the same hole. If you are in Christ you are free from the condemnation of your past sins, AND your are free from the guilt of your past sins. Amen? Amen! Talk about Blessed Assurance. Amen?! Amen!!

Now that Christ has died and been raised that we may be free from our sins and guilt what is expected of us? Scripture lays out we are to stop living for the flesh. Wesley describes it as having, “crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.” We are to turn away from adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and every design of corrupted nature. You see Wesley believed that just because the sins and guilt of our past have been erased the seeds of that sinful behavior are still with us. And yet we have this new seed planted within us, and the new seed is Christ. Which seed will we water? Which seed will we nurture? Which seed will we encourage to grow?

Those who are in Christ walk in the Spirit, which means they water and care for the seed of salvation planted within them. What does that mean? It means we have choices to make. We choose to love our neighbor as ourselves. We choose to look for God’s love with gratitude and allow God’s love to lead us into every holy desire. It means changing the things we say. It means the way we say the things we say changes. We must choose to allow our conversation to be holy without back biting, whining or putting others down. Our words must bring comfort and peace to those who are struggling and afflicted. Everyone word must bring “Glory to God.” We must also choose to live into the Spirit so that God’s grace would be known by all. We must live into, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance
,” and anything else lovely or praise worthy (Gal 5:22). We must live our lives as if every step is an opportunity to prove the power of the Holy Spirit was strong enough to raise Jesus Christ from the dead and to save us from the guilt, the shame and the mistakes of our past. Amen? Amen!

However, I know there are some who still struggle with letting go of this condemnation. Please allow me to offer a word of hope. Those who walk in the Spirit of Christ carry no condemnation. They are not condemned by God, and they are not condemned by their own guilt. Those who walk in the Spirit no longer have anything to fear from the “wrath to come” (Matt 3:7). In its place Christ has placed the peace which passes all understanding, and the comfort of a good conscience toward God. Still, there are many questions.

One question, is does this mean once a person is saved they are always saved? The answer is no. As I said before the old seeds of sin are still with us. The old sins have been washed away, but the root causes are still there. We can choose to stop watering the seed of salvation and we can choose to water the seeds of sin and wrath. When we make the choice to follow the flesh we choose to step away from God’s salvation – We choose to walk away from Christ. If anyone here is feeling far from God this morning let me offer you this question? Who moved? 1John 5:18 says, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” Those who are in Christ see temptation, as less of a challenge and more of an opportunity to triumph in Christ because God gives us the power to have a victory. So long as we choose to water and tend the seed of salvation planted within us the evil one cannot touch us.

Another question is what do I do if I have sinned after I was saved? Will that sin follow me to damnation? As comfort Wesley offers this question. Can you truly, in your heart of hearts say, “my Redeemer lives!” When this statement of faith comes from the deep places of our soul our liberty has been restored. It is this faith which cancels all sin, and allows us to stand as free people beside our risen lord and savior. Please understand this, we can choose to walk closer to God and we can choose to walk away from God. So many are like children in the wilderness with no clue where the Promised Land is, or who to follow to know how to get there. However, those who are in Christ have found their guide and their provider. There is no spiritual desert which Christ cannot lead us through, and in which Christ does not provide living water for the journey.

In Acts 8:26-40 there is a story about Philip encountering an Ethiopian eunuch. The Ethiopian is reading aloud from the book of Isaiah so Philip asked, ‘“Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me’” (Acts 8:30-31)? Sisters and brothers there are many who are lost in the world. There are many who are running away from Christ, and chasing the fleeting pleasures of the flesh. How will they come to know Christ if we are acting more like them than we are like Christ? What words will we say, or write on social media to share with them the love of Christ? How will we live our lives so that others will see Christ? Will we remain chained to our doubts, fears and guilt as if to sit in the spirit of bondage? Or will we through the Spirit of Adoption walk free as brothers and sisters in Christ? God has already provided God’s son Jesus Christ. God is calling out to us now. How will we respond? What choice will we make? Will we sit around and talk about God, or will we live lives to show God to a world that simply does not understand?

In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.

[1] Elvis Pressley “A Little Less Conversation”

[2] http://www.umcmission.org/Find-Resources/John-Wesley-Sermons/Sermon-8-The-First-Fruits-of-the-Spirit

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