March 12, 2024

Not to Condemn


John 3:1-21

The purpose of sermons

  • Sermons often just make us feel guilty.
  • We may even get tired of being stirred but unchanged.
  • God wants to bring genuine changes in our lives.
  • Sermons are to motivate us to give God permission to change our lives o So we will lead better lives,

o So we won’t return feeling guilty each week, o So we can focus on God’s work in our lives.

  • Self-examination, repentance, and humility are all themes of Lent (preparation for Good Friday and Easter).
  • Revival comes when we commit to changing the things the Holy Spirit points out, through Christ who strengthens us. What does God think of you?
  • Disapproval? Or approval?
  • Disappointment? Or satisfaction?
  • Condemnation? Or encouragement?
  • Rejection? Or love?
  • Are you forgiven? Or are you guilty?
  • John 3:16-17 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

To Condemn

  • Express utter disapproval of; censure; find guilty; convict; sentence to (a punishment, esp. death).
  • Jesus didn’t have to come to condemn.
  • John 3:18 - Whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

To Save

  • Because of His great love, God sent Jesus to offer an alternative to condemnation.
  • Jesus gave His life on the cross so that we would “not perish but have eternal life”.
  • God may not approve of our sins, but He looks at us with unstoppable love.

Our response

  • Gratitude – what we feel when someone gives us something valuable.
  • Loyalty, obligation – when someone saves our life.
  • We want to honour the giver.
  • Our response comes out of our love.
  • 1 John 4:19 – We love because he first loved us.
  • Romans 6:3, 5, 6, 11 - All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Count yourselves dead to sin. Our “old self” must die
  • Romans 8:13 – if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
  • Colossians 3:5, 9, 10 – Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self.
  • Ephesians 4:22 – You were taught to leave your old self – to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse and worse because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do.

Traits of the “old self”

  • Being afraid of what others may think of us; shrinking from our duty (especially by those of wealth or position); reasoning around our cross; fearfulness that someone will offend and drive away some prominent person; compromising our principles to stay on someone's good side.
  • Feeling better because of our abilities, natural gifts, success, position, training, appearance; an important, independent spirit; stiffness, and preciseness.
  • Feeling worse when others are more successful; a disposition to speak of the faults and failings of those more talented and appreciated than ourselves, instead of their gifts and virtues, to make ourselves look better, more discerning, or sophisticated.
  • A desire to be noticed, praised, or given credit; enjoyment of flattery; feeling badly when we weren't thanked; drawing attention to ourselves and our accomplishments in conversation; liking to be at the head of things.
  • Anger or impatience – prioritizing our own schedule; a touchy, sensitive spirit; resentment or retaliation when disapproved of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated, or barbed comments; becoming provoked over people, animals, or objects that will not cooperate with our desires; losing our temper when we've run out of arguments so that our opponent will back off and we'll still win; unexpressed stirrings of envy, jealousy, revenge, bitterness, or anger.
  • Desiring always to be right; disliking being proven wrong; feeling sore at losing a contest, game, argument, or election; being embarrassed when others point out our mistakes; being unable to say "I was wrong, please forgive me"; immediately blaming another when we are accused; excusing our erroneous actions while magnifying the faults of others; rationalizing our failures by pointing to unfavourable circumstances when it was our fault; believing that no-one can do it as well as we can; desiring the last word.
  • Dishonesty; evading the truth; covering up our real faults; leaving a better impression of ourselves than is strictly true; false humility; exaggeration; straining the truth. How to kill the “old self”
  • It’s a life-long process.
  • The old self doesn’t like to stay dead.
  • Phony repentance produces phony results.
  • Repenting of individual sins is only part of the process. Sins are like dandelion leaves.
  • The “old self” is the root of the problem, so to live the victorious Christian life, we must deal not only with the sin-controlled life but also with the self-centered life. Unless we seek to kill the dandelion root of self, it will continue to produce leaves of sin.
  • Let's search our hearts for self-centredness.

How can we make death to self a reality in our lives?

A three-pronged attack will work:

  • Agree with God that our self-life deserves to die. Study the lists of traits for evidence that the self is still alive and kicking in us. Let the Holy Spirit shine His searchlight on every area of our life.
  • Surrender our entire self-life for God to crucify with Jesus (not just individual traits). Self is no longer to reign. "Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin" (Romans 6:11).
  • Thank God for delivering us from self-centeredness, as a first step of faith. We know this deliverance is His will, and "if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (and) we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15).

How to Pray

Lord, my old self needs to die. Let the searchlight of Your Holy Spirit show up in every area of my life. I surrender my entire old self for You to crucify with Jesus, so that self will no longer reign in me. I reckon my self to be dead indeed to sin. I know that if I ask anything according to Your will, You grant it. So thank You for delivering me from self-centredness. Amen.

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