An “I” Exam

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Romans 1:13-17 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

The Apostle Paul wanted to go and share his faith with the Church at Rome. His reason for coming was that he might “have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles”. What defined Paul’s life was not his wants, desires, or feelings. What defined his life was how he should please the Lord Who saved him.

Paul was not always this way. There was a time when Paul was Saul, and his life revolved around pleasing himself and others. This is not to pick at Paul – we are all born this way. Why? Because it is part and parcel of the original sin, the sin that plunged humanity into the darkness of wasted life. The Bible tells us that God created man, and then God created the animals. Man is not an animal. This is the dialogue that satan has taught the world. Humanity is a higher creation than animals. The Bible says:

Genesis 1:26-27 … God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Humanity is not an animal. Darwinian Evolutionary Theory (Charles Darwin was a failed minister of the Gospel) teaches that humans are “primates”, descendants of the apes. The Bible says that humans are distinct creations of God. We are made in the “image” צֶלֶם {tselem} and “likeness” דְּמוּת {demuwth} of “God” אֱלֹהִים {‘elohiym}. We are modeled after our Creator. The animals are not. We were made representative figures of God. He made us like Him to rule the earth and the animal kingdom. We were made to draw near to God, and to please God in how we were stewards of what He gave us. Yet Adam failed. He bought into satan’s lie, and instead of pleasing God, pleased himself. Adam ate of the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because he bought into the lie:

God is keeping you from a blessing. When you eat this fruit you will be just like Elohiym. You will then be able to determine both good and evil” (my paraphrase of Genesis 3:5)

Since that day humanity has bought into the lie that “we can be gods”. The idols that we worship are ourselves. I was watching a commercial the other day that said, “Do you have HIV? Just keep being YOU, and take ___”. The ___ was the name of a medicine that helps combat HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Do you know what guarantees you will NEVER get a sexually transmitted disease? Listen to God. Heed His warnings against sexual sin. Wait until you are ready to commit to marriage before you enjoy yourself sexually.

American secular society is overwhelmingly “I” driven. People no longer go to Church to study God (called “Theology”), but pack into Churches to study Meology. How can “I” be blessed? How can “I” prosper? How can “I” be relieved from suffering? Everything is “I” oriented. When I was a child, we determined the “gender” of a person by the sexual organs they were born with. Today we determine “gender” by “how I feel”. If I feel like a woman, then what I think trumps what anyone else thinks. I am my own god. If I want to be married, I can marry whoever agrees to marry me regardless of genitalia. I am my own god. I must be me!

Lawlessness is flaunted. Why? Because I matter more than anyone else. If I do not like who was elected President, then I can go around saying “Not my President!” This is not a thing ties to just one party in our country, but to every political party. Law as well as respect have gone out the door to the trash heap, because we each are our own gods and goddesses.

Yet, it seems, no one is happy!

Suicide rates are up, even among Christians. Following the god of I is slowly killing our country. Beloved, we all need to get back to God. We don’t need to follow Adam’s path. We are made in the image of God, but we are not gods, and never will be.

I was reading an article by Jennifer Duncan called What Paul Never Prayed For”. She made this very insightful remark:

The churches Paul planted immediately became counter-cultural, and each young church he writes to was going through difficult times. Ephesus was surrounded by witchcraft; Philippi faced daily persecution; Galatia was full of false teachers who were enforcing a legalistic doctrine; and the church in Corinth was dealing with members who were steeped in sexual immorality. Each congregation faced major issues, but the apostle never prays that God would change their circumstances. He never prays that God would rescue them out of their hardships. ”

When Adam was given a choice, rather than do his job (cultivating the Garden) he sought to improve his lot. Making Eden about himself, he lost Eden and a wonderful relationship with God. In contrast, the Apostle Paul kept focusing on how he might please the God Who saved him. Where we are in life is where God has allowed us to be.

In our focal text today we will study three I AM statements of the Apostle Paul. These statements not only apply to Paul’s life, but should apply to every believer’s life.

Christians Are Created And Given A Stewardship,
An Obligation

God created Adam to tend the Garden. He failed. God creates Christians to tends His Garden, that is, to build His Kingdom. Read with me:

Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

Word Study The Apostle considered himself to be an οφειλετης, opheiletes, (pronounced of-i-let’-ace), an ower or someone who is indebted to another, a steward. His stewardship was to the Greeks {the wise}, and to the Barbarians {the unwise}.

Every Christian, saved by the Grace of God, has been given a stewardship from God. As we were added to the Kingdom through the sharing of the Gospel, we are to share the good news of salvation by faith in Christ to others.

We are not responsible for the Growing WEEDS,
but we are responsible to plant the
SEEDS.

We were saved heeding the same message that the Philippian Jailer heard. It was at Philippi that Paul and Silas were sharing the Gospel of Christ, when the devil started to attack their ministry. The devil will always attack you if you serve Jesus. Serve yourself, he will give you more opportunities to do so. Serve Jesus, and he will plague you like a tick on a dog. The Apostle Paul and Silas withstood the attacks for several days, until Paul invoked the name of Christ to rebuke that devil. What happened? Paul and Silas were falsely accused, and cast into prison at Philippi.

Did Paul and Silas grumble? Did they allow their circumstances to blind them to the Presence of God? Absolutely not! Their feet in stocks, and bloody stripes from the whip on their backs (Acts 16:23-24), Paul and Silas PRAYED and SANG PRAISES UNTO GOD (Acts 16:25). They did not pray to be released, but praised God for where they were. They saw this jailing as an opportunity to plant more Gospel seed for Jesus Christ our Lord. They praised and prayed until midnight (Acts 16:25), when the jail was shaken, and everyone was loosed from their bands and chains. When the warden came and found the prison broken so that the prisoners could escape, he:

Acts 16:27-31 … drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

What would you have done if unjustly jailed, after being beaten? Probably most of us would have ran away, becoming fugitives rather than stay one more minute in that horrible prison. Yet this would not please God! We who believe were saved on purpose, and given purpose. Jesus told His disciples after rising from the grave:

Luke 24:46-47 {it was necessary for} Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

There were men (and perhaps women) in that jail that needed to hear about Jesus Christ. The warden himself needed to hear about Christ. Paul and Silas did not see their jailing as an inconvenience or a hindering of their ministry. No, they saw it as an OPPORTUNITY. Our God saves us, then tells us as He tells the Church of Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:8 behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Christians are STEWARDS of the Gospel. We are DEBTORS. We are not to modify the Gospel, but to present it as it is, and trust God for the results. The Gospel is always REPENT and BELIEVE. That is what Jesus preached.

Mark 1:14-15 Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The Messiah has come. Stop being your own god. Reject that, and follow the God of the Scripture. Follow Jesus Christ.

The Gospel proclaimed never excuses or normalizes Meology, but says “Turn from Meology to God, Theology. Come follow Jesus!”

The legendary C.H. Spurgeon stated: … let me tell you that if you have a peace to-day which enables you to be at peace with your sins as well as with God, that peace is a false peace. Unless you hate sin of every sort, with all your heart, you are not a child of God, you are not reconciled to God by the death of his Son. You will not be perfect; I cannot expect you will live without sin, but if you are a Christian you will hate the very sin into which you have been betrayed, and hate yourself because you should have grieved your Savior thus. But if you love sin, the love of the Father is not in you. Be you who you may, or what you may, — minister, deacon, elder, professor, or non-professor — the love of sin is utterly inconsistent with the love of Christ. Take that home, and remember it.”

I am not saying – repeat NOT SAYING – that you need to clean yourself up before you come to Jesus. The word “Repent” means to look Christ-ward rather than self-ward. If you come to Christ, then Christ will change your heart. Listen to me:

You do not go to hell for sexual sin.
You do not go to hell for murder.
You do not go to hell for rape.
You do not go to hell for greed.
You do not go to hell for ____.

You go to hell for refusing to come to Jesus, refusing to acknowledge Him as your Lord and rest in Him as your Savior. That which the Great Fisherman, Jesus Christ, catches, He also CLEANS. The Lord is able to save ALL people, to cleanse ALL people who believe in Him. Praise the Lord, the Bible promises:

Romans 5:5 and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.

Dr. Charles Stanley noted that there are four questions every believer should ask the Lord daily:

What Do YOU Want Me To Do, Lord?
How Do YOU Want Me To Act?
When Do You Want Me To Act?
How Can I Best Represent You?

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Christ, you are obligated to serve Christ. Not the world, not your friends, but Christ!

Every Christian, Like Paul, Must Be Ready

Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Though Paul was imprisoned, and it did not seem like he was going to get an opportunity to preach in Rome, he nonetheless was prepared to do so. He did not allow his circumstances to keep him from preparing to sow the Gospel seed.

In my devotions this morning I was reading from Dr. David Jeremiah. He quoted:

2 Timothy 4:3-6 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

The world does not want to hear the Gospel, but has “itching ears” that wants to be tickled with light and airy preaching. Paul warned Timothy against doing that. Dr. Jeremiah went on to relay the story of a South Korean Christian, Jae Kang Im. While Jae was getting his hair cut:

his stylist, Sun-ah, started talking about her troubles in life, especially the pain of growing up in an alcoholic and abusive home. Im wanted to share the Gospel with her, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain to his ear. The stylist had sliced into it, and the blood flowed in streams. The staff wanted to call paramedics, but Im reassured them he’d be fine. He told the stylist the pain with his ear was nothing compared to what she had experienced in her life, and she began to weep. Im left and tended to his ear, but that evening he returned just before the shop closed. He found Sun-ah and shared his testimony. He told her about Jesus, and the woman was wonderfully saved. “I thank God for using my ear to save one soul,” he said.”

Many people, even Christians, if cut while in the Barber’s seat would complain bitterly and fuss at the offender. Many people, even Christians, would have complained if they were unjustly jailed. Yet the Apostle Paul stayed ready to tell others about Jesus.

Why are so many Christians anxious about telling others of Christ? Could it be because we have one foot in the world, and one foot in Christ’s Kingdom? As Christians, we are to live out a daily reality that we are to be connected to Christ. We must start our day, acknowledging Jesus. Jesus must have as much of us as possible this day. We must abide in Him. Jesus said:

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in ME.

The secret of power with God is the surrendered life. The Apostle said, as much as in me is. Give God as much of you as you can give every day. This was the secret of Billy Graham’s success in ministry. Adrian Rogers quoted Billy Graham, who said:

I surrendered my will to the living God revealed in the Scripture. I knelt before the opened Bible and said, ‘Lord, many things in this Book I do not understand, but Thou hast said the just shall live by faith. All I have, I have received by faith. Here and now by faith, I accept the Bible as Thy Word. I take it all. I take it without reservations. Where there are things I cannot understand, I will reserve judgment until I receive more light. If this pleases Thee, give me authority as I proclaim Thy Word, and through that authority convict me of sin and turn sinners to the Savior.

When Billy preached, his favorite statement was “the Bible says”. Billy gave Jesus all of his life, not the leftovers. We must, as believers, strive to give the Lord all of us. He must occupy as much of our attention and service as possible. We must reject the word of the world, and turn fully to the Word of God! Remember, it was the word of the serpent that said “You will not die if you eat of it, but you will become gods and goddesses!” But it was the Word of God that spoke the truth. The Bible, the Word of God, always speaks the truth. To be blessed of God the Christian is called to uphold what God has said, not what man has said. Remember:

2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

God is watching us. Are you ready?

Every Christian, Like Paul, Must Be Unashamed

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Word Study The word translated “POWER” in our above text is the Greek δύναμις dýnamis, {pronounced doo’-nam-is}, which means “mighty work, miraculous, power residing in a thing by virtue of it’s nature”.

The Christian way of life is a supernatural way of life. The day that you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, the day you said “I believe” to His promises, on that very day you were saved. A Christian is not a worldling, not the same as an unbeliever. We no longer walk in darkness, but have the “light of life” (John 8:12). The Bible says:

1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

We cannot compromise with the world and expect to live a life pleasing to the Lord. We as Christians are saved from lives of helpless servitude to sin. God indwells us. The whole world lies in wickedness (1 John 5:19), for it has been deceived by Satan (Revelation 12:9). Nevertheless, Jesus is …

1 John 2:2 … the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

As we were saved, dear Christians, God can save others. The Gospel, the Good News of Christ has POWER, saving POWER. Do not mock the Word of God by thinking that other things are more important than this Gospel.

People need the Lord.

I will end with this quote from Church father Jonathan Edwards:

“The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.”

Let us rest in Him. Let us be faithful in serving Him. Let us not be as Adam, but as Paul. Those who do not stand with Christ and His Word are not genuinely Christian. Has not the Lord said:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

May God through His Holy Spirit and His Word touch our hearts today, making us more Christ driven. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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