Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Sunday, June 12
  • Firm Foundation (He Won't)
  • This Is Amazing Grace
  • The Way
  • Jesus
  • Romans 1
    As we continue our journey toward potential, let’s do a quick review. Our goal is to reach our potential in Christ, physically, spiritually, and emotionally, and to help others do the same. We’ve established that potential in Christ is biblical, that we are to increase in our wisdom knowledge of God and become the men and women He created us to be and to do what He designed us to do. We also established that reaching our potential is a journey (roller coaster) that involves knowing our identity in Christ, discovering our strengths, and serving our world.
    Regarding identity, knowing our true identity begins with knowing Almighty God and His attributes and who we are in Him. And that begins with a personal relationship through Jesus Christ. Apart from God and His sanctifying work in our hearts and minds, our identities are skewed, corrupt, and dominated by sin and self. The farther we as individuals and as a society remove ourselves from God and His truth, the more confused our identities become.
    Is that mere religious rhetoric? I think not.
    Around 50 years ago the “extreme right-wing ultra-conservative Christian conspiracy theorists” told America that if we legalize the killing of innocent unborn children, a day will come when abortion in the first trimester would no longer be sufficient. We said, “No way. Abortion would never go beyond the first trimester.” Where are we today? We can abort a baby in the first, second, third trimester, and partial birth – and it hasn’t stopped there. Some states are in the process of legalizing infanticide – killing children up to 28 days after birth. That has nothing to do with the health or body of a woman.
    What does this have to do with identity? A vast number of pro-abortionists have lost the ability to identify a human child. Biology, science, nature, fact, and common sense affirm that a human child is created at the moment of conception. Yet, pro-abortionists reject that truth and consequently alter their definitions to fit their agenda. They changed their language from baby, to fetus, to clump of cells, to not human or person until sometime after birth.
    Do you see how the lack of a firm foundation regarding identity creates confusion?
    God has never changed His definition of humanity or of identity. The world constantly changes its definitions and thus creates chaos and chaos is destructive.
    Abortion is not our main topic this morning. I just wanted to show the progressive movement of the devil and the sin nature, and the more we follow the the devil and the sin nature, the more we lose our identity. We’re lured in with an initial lie that sounds good, seems like common sense, not that harmful. But if we stay on that path, that lie leads us to the loss of identity.
    Less than ten years ago the “extreme right-wing ultra-conservative Christian conspiracy theorists” told America that if we legalize gay marriage, it wouldn’t stop there. It would open the door for the disintegration of human sexuality, a rejection of social morality and decency, it would be the breakdown of the historical traditional family structure.
    They told us that marriage between two men or two women wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the lust for progression. But we said, “No way. The gay community won’t take this past marriage.” It didn’t take long until for lesbian and gay to become LGB. Then LGBT. Then LGBTQ. Then LGBTQ+, which is actually LGBTTTQQIAA – and it’s changing almost every day. Do you think it’s going to stop there? No – because what’s next? Multiple spouses? Yep. Adults and minors? Yep. Trans-animal? Seriously, identifying as an animal is an acceptable form of the queer identity and it’s acceptable and unchallenged in schools. “2+2 = meow. Good answer, Timmy.”
    Do you see the progression? The devil and sin always say, “Take the first step. Cross the line just a little, compromise just a little, and we’ll stop there.” But Satan and sin never stop with just one step. They’re never satisfied with a little compromise. We have historical precedence for societies who follow the progression of sin, and it goes like this: first is tolerance, then acceptance, then embracement, and then celebration. When a society celebrates the murder of innocent children, and celebrates the sexual exploitation of children, and celebrates sexual immorality, there are only two options left – repentance or judgement.
    What does all this have to do with identity? Our society struggles to identify the biological factual differences between a male and female, between man and woman. With all the “progression” about gender fluidity and the freedom to identify however one wants, have we decreased or increased identity confusion? Increased. Chaos abounds, and when chaos abounds people get hurt. Fact - suicide has increased among those who have completed a sexual transition to the opposite sex. It’s not because they’re being bulled. It’s mostly about lost identity and what they thought would bring them happiness turned out to be the opposite and they find themselves in more despair.
    Children and adults are more confused about their identity than ever before and it’s getting worse. Do you see why a firm foundation for identity is so important? People are looking for identity in a system that can’t give it to them. Who can give them identity? The Church. God has never changed His definition of humanity, of sexuality, of gender, of identity, or of morality. He takes the confusion out of it.
    So, what do we do? Before we answer that, I need to remind us of the words of the Apostle Paul.
    Romans 1:18 NIV
    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
    What is this wrath? Is it God punishing? Is it God causing disaster and calamity? Possibly, but more likely it's simply God removing His protective blessing from a society and allowing society to reap the natural consequences of their own desires. In other words, God says, “Is this what you want? You got it.”
    Then Paul writes about rejecting God.
    Romans 1:24–32 NIV
    Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
    I chose the subjects of abortion and sexuality because of the direct impact on identity. To be clear, I don't believe that every person who is LGBTQ+ or all pro-abortionists are evil. I don’t’ believe God hates them. Remember ultimately our struggle is against the spiritual forces behind these issues and not necessarily with people. God loves all people and so should we. He desires to see all saved and all to know their identity in Christ, and so should we.
    How do we respond? I don’t have all the answers this morning. I just know I needed to read from Romans 1. But know this, if you’re struggling with your identity, Jesus can help.
    Matthew 11:28–30 NIV
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
    How do we respond? To the best of our ability, as a Christian, we respond like Jesus with grace and truth (John 1:17). Do not compromise the truth, and don’t neglect grace. And don’t give a bunch of grace without the truth.
    How do we respond? We respond like Jesus who ate with sinners (Matthew 9). Why did He eat with sinners? Jesus said, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” He didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinners.
    How do we respond?
    Romans 1:16–17
    Romans 1:16–17 NIV
    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
    Faith - Know our identity, our strengths, and serve our world.
      • Romans 1:18NIV2011

      • Romans 1:24–32NIV2011

      • Matthew 11:28–30NIV2011

      • Romans 1:16–17NIV2011

  • Do It Again

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