March 29, 2024 - How to Overcome a Self-Destructive Lifestyle - Pastor Paul Vallee

March 29, 2024 - How to Overcome a Self-Destructive Lifestyle - Pastor Paul Vallee
Living Stones Church, Red Deer, Alberta
March 29, 2024 - How to Overcome a Self-Destructive Lifestyle - Pastor Paul Vallee

Apr 01 2024 | 00:36:22

Episode 13 April 01, 2024 00:36:22

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Good Friday

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:03] Speaker A: Just want to welcome you here tonight. Welcome to Livingstone's Good Friday service. How could we say a day like that was good? Well, for Christ, it certainly wasn't. But for everyone who looks to him as their savior, it's the greatest day ever. Because Jesus came and he died in our place. It was a substitutionary death. And when we receive that gift, it changes our lives. And so tonight we have these little emblems that celebrate our covenant with God. Our covenant is based upon what Christ did for us. And on the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took the bread. He broke it and said, this is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me. So when we're going to open these little packets up, you want to just break the top. There's two levels to this. And if you can get past the first part there, little plastic, it opens up. There's a little bit of a wafer there. Let's just pray. This little wafer represents Christ's broken body for us. So, Father, we thank you as we've sung and worshiped and praised and focused on this amazing sacrifice, the giving of your life for us. And now, even as we partake of the sacrifice, Lord, and receive this emblem that represents your body, Lord, I pray tonight that all the benefits of this great salvation would be received. Forgiveness and healing and grace. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name, amen. Let's eat this bread together. Every once in a while you have a hard time with these things. I'm trying to break into this cup. I'll try not to wear it. Oh, okay. Thanks, patty. Appreciate that. There we go. Thank you. In the same way, after supper, he took the cup, said, this is the cup which is my blood, which was shed for you. This is the new covenant. So we have a new agreement with God, a new arrangement with God. You know, the old covenant. God gave us a law, but we were unable to keep it. And so what did he do? He said, I'm going to write my law within you. How does he do that? When we have Christ dwelling within us, then the law of God becomes internalized and it becomes applicable and appropriated in our lives. And so we thank you, Father, for this amazing cup that represents the blood of Jesus that was shed for us. And now, Father, we pray tonight that you would open our hearts to you and that we would receive, Lord, the gift of forgiveness, not only from sin, but also from all of its symptomatic effects, guilt and shame and brokenness and unbelief and doubt and all the things that shatter us. Lord, we pray tonight as we continue to worship you when we hear your word. Father, may your spirit speak into our hearts, and may we experience your divine presence in a very real and powerful way. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name, amen. Let's drink this cup together. If you wouldn't mind just hanging onto these and at the end of the service, if you wouldn't mind just throwing them in the garbage on your way, that would be great. We're going to have you continue stand. We're going to continue just worshiping. [00:04:13] Speaker B: Cast my mind to Calvary where Jesus bled and died for me his wounds, his hands, his feet my savior that. [00:04:36] Speaker C: Cursed me. [00:04:42] Speaker B: His body bound and dressed. [00:04:47] Speaker C: In tears they lay me down in. [00:04:53] Speaker B: Joseph to the ancient sea by heavy. [00:05:00] Speaker C: Stone messiah still and all the. [00:05:12] Speaker B: O. [00:05:13] Speaker C: Praise the name of the light again oh praise his name forever more your praise, o Lord. Lord I got. [00:05:42] Speaker B: The break of dawn. [00:05:48] Speaker C: The son of heaven rose again o terrible death rain o praise the name of the Lord I got o praise his name forever more forever. [00:06:28] Speaker B: We will. [00:06:29] Speaker C: Sing your grace, O Lord. [00:06:45] Speaker B: In robes of weight the blazing sun shall hear the night and I will rise among the things, my gaze transfixed on Jesus space. [00:07:38] Speaker C: O praise the name of the Lord I got. O crazy. Forever, forever we will sing your grace, O Lord all we have forever forever we will be forever God. [00:08:47] Speaker B: What a fabulous God we serve. What a pleasure it is to worship with you tonight, church. I love listening to you sing praise. I love worshiping with you. Amen. Why don't you turn and welcome those around you to church tonight as well? [00:09:08] Speaker C: It. [00:09:54] Speaker A: Amen. Well, that was just great singing, guys. You know what that tells me? Wait till Sunday comes. Amen. That's going to be fun. We might have to phone the insurance company. The roof's coming off, right? It's just great. Oh, you know, it's a day to celebrate. We are going to celebrate. I'm going to have us turn in our bibles tonight to the book of Hebrews. And I'm going to speak. I have a long introduction and three short points, so don't panic. But, you know, I was just so enamored with this illustration, I just could not help myself. And I want to speak tonight a little bit on how to overcome a self destructive lifestyle. And Timothy Keller, in his book, the Reason for God, he shares insight into the basic struggle that each of us have as human beings. And he picks up the story of Robert Louis Stevenson and that strange case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Now, how many know? Doctor Jekyll comes to realize in his life that he is actually a mixture between what's good and what's evil. His bad nature, his sin nature, is actually holding in his mind the nature, his good nature back. And so he believes that he needs to do something to address that so he can follow through on what he believes to be the right kind of a person. And he comes up with a potion that can separate out his two natures. This is all in, you know, this is a fictitious story, but he's bringing out a truth that we actually have two natures. His hope is that his good self, which will come out during the day, will be freed from the influence of evil and will be able to realize good humanitarian goals. However, when he takes the potion one night and his bad side comes out, he's far more evil than he had ever expected. And he writes, I knew myself at the first breath of this new life to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold as a slave to my original evil. And the thought in that moment actually delighted me. And so Edward Hyde, his alter ego. Every act and thought centers upon himself. Edward Hyde is so named not just because he's hideous, but because he's hidden. He thinks solely of his own desires, and he doesn't care in the slightest who he hurts in order to gratify himself. Stevenson is saying that even the best people hide from themselves that which is within the enormous capacity for egotism, self absorption and a regard from their own interest over the interests of others. The focus on self is the foundation of so much misery in our world. It's the reason that the powerful and the rich are often indifferent to the plight of the poor. It's the reason for most of the violence, the crime, the warfare in our world is at the heart of most cases of family disintegration. We hide from ourselves our self centered capacity for acts of evil. But the situation arises that as a potion, it comes out. And once Doctor Jekyll realizes that he has this tremendous capacity for evil, he decides to clamp down heavily on this terrible self centeredness and pride at the core of his being. And in a sense, he gets, quote unquote, religion. He solemnly resolves not to take the potion anymore. And he devotes himself to charity and good works partially as an atonement for what Edward Hyde has done and partially as an effort to simply smother his selfish nature with acts of unselfishness. However, one day, Doctor Jekyll is sitting on a bench in Regent's park thinking of all the good he's been doing and how much a better man he is, despite Edward Hyde, than the great majority of people. And as Stevenson then relates in his novel, I resolved in my future conduct to redeem the past. And I could say with honesty that my resolve was fruitful in some good. You know how earnestly in the last month of the year I labored to relieve suffering. You know how much was done for others. But as I smiled, comparing myself with other men, comparing active goodwill with the lazy cruelty of their neglect, at that very moment that vain glorious thought a qualm came over me a horrible, horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering. And I looked down and I was once more Mister Hyde. This was a deadly turn of events. For the first time, Jekyll becomes Hyde involuntarily without the potion. And this is actually the beginning of the end. Unable to control his transformations any longer, he destroys himself. And so Stevenson's insight here is profound. Why would Jekyll become Hyde without the potion? Like so many people, Jekyll knows hes a sinner. So he tries desperately to cover his sin with great piles of good works. And yet his efforts do not actually shrivel his pride and self centeredness. They only aggravate it. They lead him to a sense of superiority, self righteousness and pride. And suddenly Jekyll becomes high, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his endeavor to be good. You see, sin and evil are self centeredness and pride that leads to oppression against others. But there are two forms of it. One form is being very bad in breaking all the rules. And the other form is being very good and keeping all the rules and becoming very self righteous. You see, there are two ways to be your own savior and your own lord. The first is by saying, I'm going to live my life the way I want. And the second is avoiding Jesus by avoiding my sin. It was Flannery O'Connor who writes, if you're avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless and save you this ironically, you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model and helper, but not. But you are actually avoiding him as a savior. You see, you are trusting in your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God. And ironically, you may be looking to him for the wrong thing. It's a rejection, actually, of what the gospel message is actually all about. It's a christianized form of religion and a lot of people practice it. It's possible to avoid Jesus as savior as much as keeping all the biblical rules as by breaking them. You have to remember the story it's told. Luke tells the parable. Remember the prodigal story, prodigal son. He goes out, what does he do? He breaks all the rules. He's living in the far country, far from the father, has no concern about what his father thinks. And meanwhile the older brother is staying home, keeping all the rules. But his heart is as far from the father as the younger son's heart is. And that was finally revealed to him when his brother comes home and asks his father to forgive him. And the father does, runs towards him and forgives him and throws a party for him. And the older brother becomes indignant, wasn't he there all that time? And the father had never thrown a party for him and he was angry, would not join the celebration. You see, he was just as lost to his father keeping the rules, because he actually did not know the father. Both religion, in which you build your own identity on moral achievements, and no religion, in which you build your identity on some other secular pursuit or relationship, or ultimately the same identical course. Both are sin. You see, self salvation through good works is actually, it produces a great deal of moral behavior in your life. But instead you're filled with self righteousness, cruelty and bigotry, and you're miserable. You're always comparing yourself to other people, and you're never sure you're being good enough. You cannot therefore deal with your hiddenness and self absorption through the moral law. By trying to be a good person through an act of your own will. You actually need a complete transformation of the very inner being, your very heart, nature and the devil, if anything, prefers pharisees, men and women who try to save themselves. They're actually more unhappy than either mature christians or irreligious people, and they do a lot more spiritual damage. Later in his book, Keller reminds us that the primary symbol of Christianity has always been the cross. The death of Jesus for our sins is at the very heart of the gospel. It's the good news. Increasingly, however, what the christian church has considered good news is considered by the rest of the culture as bad news. Why would Jesus have to die? That's a question that is often asked. And Keller says, why couldn't God just forgive us? Because someone had to pay the consequences of sin. And sin always produces hurt, sorrow, loss and suffering towards others. Someone has to absorb those consequences. And the good news is that God himself has done for us what you and I could not do for ourselves. He has saved us from our sin and one of the great temptations that people with religious backgrounds often fall into is trying harder to be good, trying to do the right thing in order to be accepted by God and loved by others. But we have to eventually come to the realization that the famous novelist Robert Louis Stevenson reveals in Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde that within each heart is a tremendous capacity for sin. And what are we to do about the issue? You see, I believe religion and others will agree, is just a human attempt to please God or to do his will in our own strength. And when we try and obey God, therefore, and think that we are accepted by him rather than the principle of the gospel, which is that we're accepted by God because of what Christ has done for us. When we accept Christ, we accept his sacrifice on our behalf, and then out of that relationship flows obedience. The issue is in life, where are we putting our trust? In the one case, we put our trust in ourselves to be good enough to be accepted by God. And in the other, we know we're not good enough, and therefore we trust God to be accepted by him. So what helps us understand this great sacrifice? You know, I've been thinking a lot about this recently, and I began to realize that, you know, the Old Testament spends a lot of time talking about sacrifices. How many have noticed that if you read through it, you're just amazed. You get to the book of Leviticus, and all you're reading about is this sacrifice and that sacrifice. And I believe if we're going to really grasp it and understand it, we almost need to look at it through the lens of jewish people and go back to the Old Testament and understand the hideous nature of sin and the necessity for sacrifice in our life. And that's why I'm pointing us to the book of Hebrews, because this is actually a sermon preached to jewish believers who felt inferior and didn't understand the superiority of Christ's sacrifice on their behalf. And so I want to do here is just give us briefly in a couple paragraphs each, three simple truths. First of all, the superiority of Christ's sacrifice. Why is Jesus sacrifice for sin better than all of the Old Testament sacrifices? Now, let's take a look at what Hebrews chapter nine tells us in the first verse. It just says here in verse 20, he said, this is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep. In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in itself ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. You see, the Old Testament sacrifices were actually a shadow of the things that were real. Let me give you a brief overview of the history of Israel. What was God trying to do? Well, first of all, he chose a people. They were caught in slavery, which is a type of sin in our lives. We're in slavery, we're in bondage, we're in addiction, and God chooses to lead us out, just like he chose Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Once in the wilderness, they needed to learn the ways and manner of God. And so he revealed himself to them on Mount Sinai, where the law was given, where the tabernacle was built, where the priesthood was established. And all of these things were to teach God's people truths about himself. But now, as we read in the book of Hebrews, they're only a shadow, but not the true substance. And in chapter ten, verse one, it says, the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming, not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices, repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. And the writer points out why that is so in the next verse. It was necessary then for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices. But the heavenly things themselves would have better sacrifice than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one. He entered heaven itself now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again the way a high priest enters the most holy place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once and for all at the end of the age to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. And that's why John said, behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus came to take away our sin. You know, for most of us, this doesn't seem powerful, or maybe we just don't get it. I don't know. But I think when a jewish person hears this on the day of atonement, where the priest goes in, I want you to think about it. Everything about the Old Testament is teaching us the holiness of God and how God is so other than not like us. I mean, in so many ways, because he's pure and he's holy and he's infinite and he's just. Yes, he's loving but he's all of these things. And everything about the Old Testament was to teach us the inaccessibility of a sinful human being standing in the presence of. Of a holy God. The high priest could only go in once a year on the day of atonement. And then he had to have the shedding of animal blood. And then they would tie a rope around his waist and they put bells on his robe so that they could hear him being alive and they could know that his sacrifice, the sacrifice that was given, was acceptable by God. Because if they heard the bell stop, maybe he was dead, because that's how awesome it is to stand in the presence of this God. And so the people were waiting until he returned. And then they knew that their sins offered had now been accepted. Easter is actually the declaration of the Father accepting Christ as the perfect sin offering. He came back to his disciples alive and was seen by up to 500 people at one time. Now, in light of that picture, listen to what the writer says about Christ acting as high priest, bringing himself as the sacrifice into heaven itself. It says, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. And he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Donald Guthrie says this. The second coming is said to be for salvation. The second coming is, in fact, the divine seal of a complete acceptance of the sacrifice offered previously. And therefore, the writer points out, the sacrifice of Christ is superior to all of these Old Testament annual reminders, all of these animal sacrifices. For this reason, they can never, by the same sacrifice, repeat it endlessly, year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, they would have stopped being offered, for the worshipers would have been cleansed once and for all and would no longer feel guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are actually an annual reminder of sins, for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. I want you to just think about that statement for a minute. For the worshipper would have been cleansed once and for all. Can I explain something to us? That once you and I receive Jesus Christ, you have been cleansed once and for all. I pray that that really sinks in, because that's a very powerful, liberating truth and that our sins have been taken away. You know, there's so many pictures in the Old Testament. You know, the high priest is laying his hand on a goat and confessing the sin of the nation. One goat is killed and the other sent in the wilderness. It's called what the scapegoat. And don't we know that term? We use it in our culture. A scapegoat is someone who takes the blame for others, right? And that's exactly what Jesus says. Jesus is our scapegoat. He took our sins and he removed them from us. As far as the east is from the west, the psalmist declares to us, our sins have been taken away. How powerful is that? But let me move on. The second truth is the surrender of the sacrifice. Here we find another amazing element, the willingness of the sacrifice. How many know these animals weren't willing? They were selected, but they went unwillingly to be slaughtered. But here we read in the book of Hebrews, therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said, sacrifice, an offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me with burnt offerings and sin offerings. You were not pleased. Then I said, here I am. It is written about me in the scroll. I have come to do your will, o God. Do you know Jesus knew when he came that he was going to come and die for our sins. Jesus came to be a ransom for us. Jesus came to die for us. And that's what that prayer in Gethsemane is all about. Not my will, but yours be done. Jesus was surrendering to be a sacrifice for you and for me. Well, let me move on to the final truth. Well, let me go back here and just say this about Jesus prayer. Knowing the great price he was paying, Jesus surrendered his will to the father. But let's take a look at the impact of the sacrifice. It's called a sanctifying impact. That word just means that it cleanses us completely. We're set apart to be God's. We are now considered holy. Holy means to be set apart for God's purposes. It says, and by that will, we have been made holy. We have been made holy. I don't feel holy, pastor. No. What it means is, you now belong to God. Is this amazing? When the moment you gave your life to Christ, it means you now belong to God. You are now holy. You are now set apart for God's purposes. It's no longer your life. In a sense, you're identifying with Christ. You're committing yourself to being a follower of Jesus and to doing his will. And let me tell you something. God's will for your life and my life is far greater than our will. It always leads to a better place. It says, by that will we've been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. So what makes us holy. The sacrifice of Jesus. You and I don't make ourselves holy. Christ makes us holy. You know, we have all kinds of crazy ideas about what it means to be holy, but essentially it means that we belong to him and that our lives are set apart. To do his will to be holy means that God I love this, makes us whole. Isn't that beautiful? You see, I believe that most of us are fragmented. We're broken on the inside. And what has to happen is God wants to reintegrate our lives. And when we become reintegrated, that's where we get this word integrity from. It means we're no longer living a life of duplicity. We're no longer double minded. We're no longer trying to do one thing and then the other. There's a sense that we finally surrender to becoming what God wants us to become, and it's very powerful. This speaks of the work of integrating and unifying our lives around a greater purpose than ourselves. I think that's pretty liberating. You know, a lot of people say, I want to find meaning to life. I want to find my purpose in life. I just say it's real simple, you know, surrender your bodies as living sacrifices to God, which is your reasonable act of worship, and then you will start to know God's perfect and goodwill. Isn't that beautiful? I think it's amazing what God wants to do. He wants to reveal this to us. Then he goes on to say, for by one sacrifice, he's made perfect forever those who are being made holy. So first of all, he says, we are holy. But then he says, we are going to be made, being made holy. I'm going to give you another word for holy. Sanctified. Sanctified and holy is the same word. So, you know, the moment I give my life to Jesus, I become justified. That means I now stand in a right relationship with God. But at that same moment, I'm now sanctified. I'm made holy in God's sight. My sins have been freed from me, and God's looking at me through the sacrifice of Christ. And at that point, he's no longer judging me anymore. He's acquitted me. But from this point on, I am now becoming even more holy. If I can say it that way, I'm becoming more like him. I'm becoming other than what I was. I'm becoming more like who God is. And it's a journey that we enter in on for the rest of our christian journey. It says, we're being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says, this is the covenant I will make with them at that time, says the Lord, I'm going to put my laws in their hearts and I will write it on their minds. What's he telling us? God says, I'm going to internalize this. You know, part of the problem when you're instructing people, a lot of, you know, christian instruction is just external. A lot of people memorize things. A lot of people can recite things. A lot of people have an intellectual understanding of things, but that's not what changes us. What God wants to do is internalize this by bringing his presence into our lives. And as you and I submit to him, it becomes internalized. And you and I begin to apply these things, and they become lived out in our lives. God's word becomes flesh, just like Jesus is the word of God become flesh. That's exactly the process that he wants to have happen in our lives, that God's spirit and word becomes flesh within us. It's a very powerful thing. Christ now starts living within us. You know, I love how Paul says it in Galatians 220. I'm crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live. I live by the faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. We can resist this work of God's spirit in our lives, or we can submit and yield to it. God not only directs us to do what's good and right, but now he empowers us to do it. How many know? It's one thing to say I want to do the right thing, but I'm not able to. It's another thing to say I want to do the right thing. And because I'm surrendering to you, I'm now empowered to do it. And that's what it's all about. So let's stand tonight as we close, we're going to have our musicians come back. Let me just remind us, okay, what is this about, pastor? A supreme surrendered and sanctified sacrifice? It's only when we are free from serving ourselves this is going to really blow your minds. It's only when we are free from serving ourselves that we're actually free. We're actually free. We're free to become the person God first designed and created you to be. And everyone in this room, you have. You know, God designed everyone in this room. He put certain gifts in our lives. Every life should look different. There's not one person the same. And as you and I yield to Christ, God's life now is going to be manifested through your life differently than anybody else on this planet. That's a beautiful thing. But you and I should be becoming more and more like him. And how does that happen? Surrender. Surrender to him. Amen. Amen. So let's pray. Father, we want to thank you tonight. We're so grateful for good Friday because it's good for us. We know for you, it was a very challenging day where you gave up your life, but you did it willingly. Motivated out of love. Motivated to repair the breach that we had with you. Because sin always separates us from you, Father, and also from others. We thank you, Lord, that you're the one that took our sin away. That upon that cross, Lord, not only did you die, but when we identify with you, we die with you on that cross. And it addresses our sin. And not that we don't have a sin nature in us, but there's now a new nature, God's nature, living within us, a greater nature that's powerful enough for us to say no to sin and yes to you. And we thank you for that, Lord. And I just pray tonight that these songs that we've sung and the words that we've heard, Lord, will stay within our hearts, Lord, and that you will speak into our lives and challenge us to surrender our lives to you and experience life that was designed for us to be lived. And we thank you for that. In Jesus name, amen. Amen. God bless you as you leave tonight.

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