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Overcoming Spiritual Intimidation, Part 3 (Colossians Sermon 8 of 21)

Overcoming Spiritual Intimidation, Part 3 (Colossians Sermon 8 of 21)

October 14, 2007 | Andrew Davis
Joy, Glory of God, Idolatry

Two Great Drives in the Universe

I have learned, over the last five years especially, of the poignancy of this statement, that there are two great forces in the Universe, the drives of the Universe. The drive of God to be glorified in His creation and the drive that each human being has to be happy, to experience pleasure, to be joyful. These are things that are incontrovertible, we can't deny them, we become sick if we try to, and one of the key issues in your life is where are you going to meet your drive for pleasure? Are you going to find it in the person, in the presence, in the power of Almighty God and Jesus Christ, or are you going to find it in other things, created things. I think that's one of the key issues of your soul and mine. God created us for pleasure. He made us for that, and he created both in the soul and in the body something you could call pleasure receptors. The body has the ability to sense physical things by sight and sound and taste and smell and feel. We can experience the world around us. And in a set of those experiences, we find pleasure, sensory pleasure, and God made it that way, it's not an evil thing. The soul also has the ability to experience spiritual pleasure, and God made it that way. It's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. Both of those things are created by God. Look at the tongue, for example. Actually, don't look at it, but just metaphorically look at it, or shall I say, consider the tongue. Your tongue has over 10,000 taste buds and different ones are assigned with different tasks for sensing the countless flavors that God has made in this physical creation. Some of them you count pleasing to you, and some of them don't. But God created them all and He created the whole interchange between the taste and the tongue.

And it's fascinating, and all of the practical advice given in the Book of Proverbs, it's amazing that He actually commands that we should eat honey. Isn't that an interesting thing? You find this in Proverbs 24:13, "Eat honey, my son, for it is good." I mean, that's a sweet command, isn't it? Now, I think we have a sense that honey in that verse represents more than just honey. And even if we don't personally have a taste for honey, we can still obey the verse, right? The Book of Proverbs gives us representational, practical wisdom, that we, through the wisdom of God, through the Holy Spirit, we can apply to different areas of life, so even if you don't like honey, you still can "Eat honey, my son, for it is good". I think it has to do with experiencing pleasure in the physical world that God has made, that you can taste and see that the world that God has made is good. And that you ought to do it. You ought to eat, you ought to taste and see that it's good. But it's not the only advice that the Book of Proverbs gives concerning honey, you actually have to read on and get the full picture. In Proverbs 25:16, it says, "If you find honey, eat just enough. Too much of it, and you will vomit." That's again very good, practical advice. And herein, we find a challenge in dealing with physical pleasure in the world. We're supposed to eat honey, apparently, because it tastes good, but we're supposed not to eat so much that we vomit, for that is clearly not good, and so this urges balance. It urges self control in the area of physical pleasure.

And so as you're driving along the road in the physical world, as you have a physical experience with your physical body, you're going to find two ditches on the opposite side of the road, one on the left and one on the right. And on one side, there is asceticism, what I would call a hard asceticism, which teaches that we must deny these physical pleasures and not partake in them for they will do damage to us and that salvation consists in getting away from physical, sensory pleasure. That was the lie that the Colossian heretics were teaching to the people in that area. And Paul was specifically warning against it in this text, but on the other side is another ditch called gluttony. And I don't just mean overeating, but I just mean overindulging in physical pleasure in this world in a way that will damage your soul.

Those are ditches on each side. Now, in the same way, the soul has pleasure receptors. And we have the ability to receive spiritual sensations of pleasure by spiritual truths and realities. And God made the soul that way. And frankly, I think the one is to help teach the other. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," says the Scripture. Well, we can't taste God literally, but we know that by eating things that are delicious to us, that God, in a similar way, in a spiritual way, is delicious to the soul. And so often, there's that analogy of eating or drinking with God, Jesus even said to eat my flesh and drink my blood. And so there's this sense of really partaking in the goodness and sweetness of God spiritually, and that's a good thing. This ability of the soul to experience spiritual pleasure and to delight in it is a good thing created by God. But it's got its dangers too, because not every spiritual influence is a good one, and there are some damaging, dangerous, spiritual influences. Satan is a spiritual influence, and sometimes he disguises himself like an angel of light. And people seeking for spiritual pleasure through meditation, and through self-denial, and through other things, seeking the spiritual pleasures may actually be opening themselves up to Satan's influences, as he presents himself as an angel of light and they expose themselves to great danger. This is what I would call bad mysticism. And we see both of these things in the text today. Paul is warning about both asceticism and mysticism, because he's concerned about spiritual health. And the connectings, I've meditated on these two, the connection has to do with pleasure. And the right way to experience it, and the wrong way to experience it, both physically and spiritually, that's what the text is about. And we find wisdom for all of these things in Christ. Amen? And in Christ, we will avoid the ditches.

 In Christ, we will avoid the danger. And there are ditches on both sides of the spiritual pleasure as well. There is the ditch of not knowing that Satan comes as an angel of light and you get into bad spiritual experiences that leads you in great danger. But on the other side, there is spiritual deadness, a deadness and dryness of soul in which you really don't expect to feel any spiritual pleasure at all, haven't felt it for years. Oh, that we might be delivered from these extremes in the Christian life. And I think it's only by the ministry of the Word of God, by the application of the word through the spirit, by heeding the warnings that the Apostle Paul gives that we will be kept safe, and we'll be able to continue to grow as a community in our sanctification.

Complete in Christ 

Review: The Supremacy of Christ

So let's look more carefully at the rest of this Colossians 2. But I want to do it, as usual, with, I think, a good sense of the context of the passages that we're looking at today, the verses we're looking at. First, in Colossians 1, by way of review, Paul goes through and goes, I think, right to the theological center of what these Colossian heretics, these false teachers were teaching in that region. We don't know for sure that they had come to the church at Colossae, but maybe Epaphras had come there and was saying they're coming, "Paul what do I do and how can I get ready?" Etcetera. And so, they were teaching that the physical world is evil, that the body itself is part of the problem spiritually. And that salvation comes from denying bodily drives, denying physical pleasures, and you do this by means of a mixture of legalism, of Jewish laws, rules and regulations, and a harsh treatment of the body. And spiritually, you are on a journey in which these spiritual emanations, these spirit guides could help you by giving you inside and specialized knowledge. And so you sought to open yourself up to these spiritual influences and Christ is one of those emanations, so they taught. Well, that's heresy, and so in order to get it, he says, "Let's focus on Jesus Christ, all heresies go wrong on Christ." So let's go right on Christ, let's find out who Christ is, and then we will find healing and that, it's healing through doctrine. And so he says now, "Who is Christ?" Well, “Christ is the image of the invisible God. He's the firstborn over all creation, for by Him, all things were made, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.” You see, both the physical world that we're dealing with in this text was made by Christ, so it's not evil. And the spiritual world was made by Christ and He rules over it, “he's the head over every dominion and power.” So all things are found in Christ. And then in chapter two, as he moves over into chapter two, he says, "God was pleased, God the Father, was pleased to have all of His fullness, His deity, to dwell in Jesus in bodily form,” the doctrine of the incarnation.

 Christ is Complete, We Are Complete in Him

The “Word became flesh,”  Jesus took on a human body, and “God was pleased to have all of His fullness, the infinitude of the immortal God, the invisible God made flesh, made man. And you have been given fullness in Christ.” Oh, how sweet is that truth, and we spent some wonderful time meditating on that. And so much healing comes from that, and strength comes from meditating on how complete am I in Christ, how full am I in Jesus now that I have become a Christian. Tell me how complete and how full I am, and Colossians 2 will do it. It will tell you right there that you have been given fullness in Christ. And then it unfolds in the middle of Colossians 2, saying we have been fully circumcised, spiritually. The old nature was cut away. We are new people. We are new men and women. We are new creations. “The old is gone, the new has come,” He says in 2 Corinthians 5. We are also fully alive. We're brought from death to life and we can never die. Death has no mastery over us. We will live forever and we are fully forgiven. He forgave us all our sins. He nailed them to the cross, not partially forgiven, friends, but completely forgiven. And we are fully free from the law. We're not under the law's dominion any longer. We don't have a bunch of rules and regulations that we have to keep in order to be right with God. We're free from that. And we are fully triumphant over Satan. The powers and principalities and their authority to condemn us, really, on judgment day was nailed to the cross, and it will trouble us no longer. How sweet is that? That's your fullness in Christ and from that solid ground of doctrine, from that solid ground of biblical truth, you are able to fight any heresy. But this was a unique heresy and along comes Satan's intimidating voice, saying, "It's not true, you're actually incomplete. Maybe halfway there but we need to supplement the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, not enough. What Jesus did on the cross is not enough for you, you have to have more. You need philosophy. You need to have new insights coming from human wisdom and you need legalism. You need to be made right before God by your own or be kept right by your own efforts and your own law-keeping, really.” And in this text, we're going to see you need to add mysticism, the worship of angels. You know, the secret encounters with spiritual beings that will lead you to the ever-ascending realms of insight and illumination, you need that, and you need to add asceticism, you're not going to fly spiritually if you're nailed down by your body. So let's deny the bodily drives, let's eat as little as possible. Let's deny any kind of sensory things and let's focus on the spirit, that's what they taught. And it sounded right. It sounded good. It seemed to establish Christ as having died on the cross and all these things, it seemed right but it was wrong. And the essence of it is you need more than Jesus. Jesus is not enough for you.

Satan’s Intimidating Voice: “You Are Incomplete!”

Well, that's Satan's intimidating voice and the bullies come along with philosophy and Paul warns in verse 8, look at it, “see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition, the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ.” And then last week, we saw the intimidation of legalism. Verses 16 and 17: "Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day, these are a shadow of the things that were to come, the reality however is found in Christ." Remember the definition of legalism from CJ Mahaney, we looked at it last time. “Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and acceptance by God through your obedience to God.” But I tell you that forgiveness and acceptance are freely given to you by God through Christ. They are gifts of grace. They're already yours, you can't earn them, you never could, and they're just given to you as a free gift. Okay, that was last week. The review is over. Context is over.

The Intimidation of Mysticism

Now, let's talk specifically about the issues that are in front of us in the text and the first is this intimidation of mysticism. Look at verses 18 and 19. “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility,” other translations there have asceticism, we'll get to that later, but “false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.” “He's lost connection with the head from whom the whole body is supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews grows as God causes it to grow.”

The Threat to the Colossian Church

What was the threat to the Colossian church? What were these teachers teaching? Well, they taught a kind of a higher knowledge, spiritual, higher knowledge. The region was rife with what we would call mystery religions. And the essence of a mystery religion is that there were an enlightened few that knew all of the things and that they would guide you up through circles of knowledge and you would get to know more and more about the mystery religion, very enticing, very appealing. And for the enlightened special believer, these keys of knowledge will help you make continued progress. You're ascending higher and higher in a mystical, spiritual plane, and the angels or emanations, whatever you want to call them, are there as spirit guides to help guide you through this journey, to give you insight you wouldn't have in any other way. They would give you knowledge, special knowledge. They would help you make the journey. This sounds New Age-ish, doesn't it? “There's nothing new under the sun.” God is the creative being. Satan takes what God creates and perverts it, twists it and rearranges it. So he just pulls things out of the freezer and just heats it up, leftovers, microwaves it and serves it as though it's something new. But here, it's been all along the same idea of spirit guides and emanations and all that, the worship of angels, really, they're worshipping these emanations, these spirit beings, of whom Christ was one, so they taught.

And they went into great detail about what they'd seen. They were experiencing some kinds of visions and ecstatic spiritual experiences. They went into great detail with the uninitiated, perhaps because they wanted to do them a favor and help them, but perhaps it was a form of arrogant boasting, basically saying, this is what I've experienced and now I am better than you. They might not say it directly because there's a false humility side here that we can talk about, but there was an essential arrogance and pride here to the ascended ones, the ones who had received this special spiritual knowledge. And it said that their sensuous minds, speaks to their sensuous mind, they actually were not being led by the Spirit of God, it was rather sensory experiences they were having inside their minds and they were leading them astray. These experiences were rooted in the flesh, in sensations rather than in doctrinal truth. They weren't rooted in the truth of the Gospel. They had lost connection with Christ, the head, who is the head of the body. That was their problem.

Definition of Mysticism

And what these folks were doing is traditionally called mysticism. You're not going to find the word mysticism in this text. And so therefore, you have to be careful by what you mean. What is mysticism? It's actually not an easy thing to define. So, when something's not easy to define, you go to the dictionary and find out what it says. And so, I went to a number of dictionaries, and the theological dictionary that I went to, the evangelical theological dictionary gave about two paragraphs saying how difficult it was to define before they started to define it. So, I figured I'd go to Webster since they didn't have as much trouble, they just gave me a definition. And it said, "The experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality." I'll read it again, "The experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality." That sounds bad, doesn't it? Scary and dangerous, New Ages, like you need to get a crystal and kind of sit in the lotus position and chant, "Ommm... " And you can be connected in a higher consciousness with ultimate reality. Well, that's Webster's. It does sound bad, but friends, not so fast, not so fast. What is the ultimate reality? Now, that's the key question. And if you are somehow connecting with ultimate reality apart from Christ, as He is revealed in Scripture, you have significant problems. It's extremely dangerous. But if you're defining the God who created heaven and earth through His Son, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Spirit as ultimate reality, why wouldn't you want intimate communion with him? So, you have to define your terms here carefully. And if mysticism is a problem for you, the terminology, if it causes you to stumble, then dispense with it. But don't judge other people who haven't dispensed with the term yet. Try to find out what they mean. Just like philosophy. The word philosophy is neither good nor bad. I want to know what you're teaching and what your source of information is. There's good philosophy and there's bad philosophy, and so, there's good mysticism, if we want to retain the term, and there is bad mysticism.

And I tell you that a mystical experience is at the heart of your conversion to begin with. If that's what you want to call it. For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6. That is a mystical experience, if you want to use that term, of the greatness of God in Jesus Christ. And it's so vividly applied to your soul that it's as though a light is shining where there was darkness before. And that, my friends, is an experience. It's called being born again, and it's based on doctrinal truth, that's called the Gospel. And when you hear and believe the Gospel, then this light shines in your heart. Now, during that Great Awakening in the 18th Century, a great scholar and pastor, Jonathan Edwards, had to sift through all of the religious experiences that people were having as the Holy Spirit of God was being poured out, and people were doing things that they hadn't been seen doing before. And it was threatening and scary, and it was mixed and it wasn't all good or all bad, and Edwards very carefully starts to sort through it, and defends the Awakening from different extremes, from the old lights there in Boston, staunch, conservative theological regime that saw all of it as bad, and he said, "There is deadness in the center of your theology there. These are good experiences." And he preached a sermon saying that it is reasonable for there to be an immediate direct light imparted to the soul. It's a reasonable doctrine. It's called conversion. And it can go beyond that, much beyond it, but he's defending it also against the extremists, who thought, just because you threw yourself on the ground and rolled around and jumped up and screamed "hallelujah" and all that, you were saved. "I never experienced anything like that in all my life. I must be saved." Not so fast. And so, he was careful and he sifted through it all. Now, he himself was one who had many experiences that many would call "mystical." If you don't like that term, then just say they were powerful experiences in his prayer life, in which God revealed himself to him in an incredible way. In his own conversion experience and testimony in January 12th, 1723, he said this, "I made a solemn dedication of myself to God. The sweetest joys and delights I've experienced," listen to this, "have not been those that have arisen from a hope of my own good estate, but in a direct view of the glorious things of the Gospel." In other words, he kind of forgot himself and saw how glorious were the things of the Gospel itself. How glorious is God, how glorious is his Son Jesus Christ, how glorious that he died on the cross for our sins, how sweet and glorious it is that our sins could be transferred from us and put on our substitute, and he stricken and smitten by God for our sake. His blood shed on the cross. How glorious it is that we can find freedom in that? These truths are rich and glorious. And he said, "Just the things of the Gospel themselves in a self-forgetful way became... ", "I had a direct view of them," he said, "I have many times had a sense of the glory of the third person in the Trinity," that's the Holy Spirit, "In his office of sanctifier, in his holy operations," listen, "Communicating divine light and life to the soul." "Many times," He says, "I've had that experience, not just a conversion, many times, as an infinite fountain of divine glory like the sun in its glory, sweetly and pleasantly diffusing light and life." Oh, that's a sweet and rich experience, isn't it? Now, if you want to call that mysticism, then call it that. And maybe that some will stumble over that title, and so therefore, maybe you need to dispense with it. But you can't dispense with the experience, and you ought to be seeking it if you're not experiencing it now. Because a certain coldness and deadness may have settled down over your souls, and it's been a long time since she felt anything like that. And you've forgotten just how sweet it is to be close to God and to be richly welcomed by Him and have a sense of assurance in your soul that God loves you through Jesus. It's been a long time for you. So, forget the term then and ask what is going on here in my experience? Am I really loving Jesus? Am I really following Him? Do I really know Him? Or am I dead?

Bad Mysticism’s Long History

Well, mysticism, bad mysticism has a long history. Lots of attacks on the church through this. Worship of angels itself continued in the Lycos Valley, where the Colossian church was for centuries after this. It's recorded in the church fathers. They continued to struggle with worship of angels. Other forms of mysticism have always been part of pagan religions. Buddhism started when Siddhartha Gautama had some kind of a vision of something and enlightenment came to him under a tree. And so, there are actually a lot of Buddhist mystics, Hinduism, similar kinds of spiritual experiences, transcendental meditation, all that, astral projection and out of body experiences, part of that Eastern mystic religion. Islam, Muhammad said that he had visions of Gabriel who gave him the Quran, and he had that mystical experience. Mormonism is based on a vision Joseph Smith had of the Angel Moroni who gave him the golden plates from which came the Book of Mormon. And that false religious system came out of that angelic visitation. So, it plagued the church on the outside of the walls of the church. But also, what I would consider bad mysticism has plagued the church within as well and the churches had to struggle and work through these spiritual experiences and some have gone too far, much too far.

Third century Gnostics, they were attacking the basic idea that the Gospel is sufficient and they were always teaching the keys of knowledge, you had to have this ascended experience and there have been many others as well, all the way down to the 17th century mystic Madame Guyon who advocated Quietism. I think it's good, as we heard in the choir piece to be quiet, calm your heart in the presence of God, but she went too far. She basically said the essence of Christianity is passivity, and you ought to just simply receive whatever is pouring into your soul and you must not fight anything, even sin. And it led them into immorality and excesses. Strange. So, we have to be very careful what we're talking about.

But there's been good mysticism as well. I love reading this quote from Blaise Pascal, which I've read a few times on this pulpit, but I just love it. I love it. I want to read it again here, because I think it shows the key to good unusual experiences with God, if you want to call them mysticism. This is what he wrote. And this is what happened. Blaise Pascal was 17th Century French philosopher and mathematician who, after he died, they found sewed in his coat, a piece of paper on which these words were written. And why would you take the time to write something and sew it into your shirt or coat, except that it'd been one of the most incredible experiences of your life. And this is what he wrote. This man was a genius and he loved Christ and this is what he wrote. “This day of grace, 1654, from about half past 10 at night to about half past midnight, fire. The God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the wise, security, security, feeling, joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. Thy God shall be my God. Forgetfulness of the world and of all except God. He can be found only in ways taught in the Gospel.” Did you hear that? He can be found only in ways taught by the Gospel. That's the Bible. So, this man is having a deep, powerful spiritual experience based on ways taught in the scriptures. You see, same thing as Edwards. He can be found in ways only taught in the Gospel. “Greatness of the human soul, oh, righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy. I have separated myself from Him. My God, why has thou forsaken me that I be not separated from thee eternally?”

“This is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God and Him whom thou has sent,” Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ. I've separated myself from Him. I have fled, renounced, crucified Him. May I never be separated from Him. He maintains Himself in me only in ways taught in the Gospel. He says it twice. Renunciation, total and sweet. 

Wow, what is that? And do you get the sense he was actually writing while it was going on? And so, he knew he was still in the body, still in the physical experience, they would want to remember after it was over. He's being a historian. He was writing it down. They'll come a day we don't need to write it down. We'll just live it all the time. We'll be in the presence of God forever and ever and we'll know what he's talking about here. And you'll be able to stand it, because there's only so much of this that a body can stand. DL Moody had an experience. He said, “I couldn't mention it for years later in which God so poured Himself out of me. I had to ask Him to stop, to stay His hand, he said. I couldn't take anymore. But He was good. He was good. I just couldn't take anymore.”

Mysticism’s Great Danger

Well, mysticism has some dangers traditionally. Worship of angels, obviously, directly contrary to scripture. The Apostle John almost did it, you know that, in the Book of Revelation, falls down in front of the angel and starts to worship. “Don't do it. Don't do it. I'm just a servant. Get up. Worship God.” So, angels are glorious beings and Satan, knowing that, he himself being an angel, though a corrupt one, can present himself as an angel of light. There's great danger there. But learn from Blaise Pascal and say, "I can find this only in ways taught in the Bible, only in ways taught according to the scriptures." Also, danger is seeking us. A spiritual experience is apart from God's revelation in the scripture, opens us up to demonic influences, because not every supernatural experience is from God. And even good spiritual, supernatural experiences can make you arrogant, make you prideful, as though you're somehow better than the next person. And so, the Apostle Paul, he says now, "I know a man in Christ, whether in the body or out of the body, I don't know, but God knows." Was caught up to the third heaven,” caught up to paradise. “He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to talk about. But to keep me from becoming conceited, because of these surpassingly great revelations, it was giving me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan.” Okay? So, you could say, "Well, do I really want something like that if I also have to have the thorn in the flesh to keep me from being arrogant?" All I'm saying is, note the danger, pride, and arrogance, and boasting over your brothers and sisters in Christ.

BUT the Danger of Deadness

But there's also a danger, friends, of deadness, isn't there? And maybe that that's more your danger. Not that you've flown too high or you've flown apart from the scriptures, but you haven't flown at all. There's been no elevation in your spirit at all. You just go through the motions. You just go to church. You bow your heads and pray out of habit before the meal, or maybe sometimes you forget. I've done that, to my shame. I'd be halfway through this morning, I was halfway through my bowl of Wheaties and I realize I hadn't prayed yet. Lord, forgive me that I just rolled right in and forgot that this gift of a bowl of Wheaties, with all of its delicious flavor and it must be eaten quickly with very cold milk. My children will tell you I freeze the bowl ahead of time. Make the milk cold. That's weird, isn't it? I shouldn't expose myself to these private comments because you're going to come and talk to me later about them. But this is a taste treat from God and thank you, God, for it. But the deadness, friends, the deadness. When was the last time you felt moved to tears by something spiritual in the Gospel? That's a danger too. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Where is Psalm 63 in your life? "Oh, God, you are my God. Earnestly, I seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory, and because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name, I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods. With singing lips, my mouth will praise you." Where is that in your life?

Balance Found in Christ

Well, balance is found in Christ. We have been given fullness in Christ. In Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” That's where our experience is. It's so important to be submissive to the leading of the Spirit. I haven't even talked about asceticism yet, and it's almost 12:10. Next time, friends. Let me just stop. I wasn't going to do this, but let me just stop and focus on this one issue now. What's going on in your heart? What is God saying to you today? Where is Psalm 63 in your life and your experience? Are you moved frequently by the greatness of God's love for you in Christ? Do you have a sense of it, an experience of it or not? Are you just going through the motions? Daily quiet time? I have all kinds of patterns and habits, but when was the last time that the kindling and all that was ignited by fire from heaven? When did that happen to you? Could be that you're dead in your transgressions and sins. You've never come to Christ. Could be that God sovereignly brought you here today to hear the Gospel. You've already heard everything you need to know, but let me be clear about it.

God sent his Son into the world to be your substitute, that your sins might be taken off of you and transferred on to him and that he might strike his only begotten Son with his wrath, with hell in a concentrated, kind of laser-like way that Jesus absorbed the wrath of God, that we might be free from it forever. No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Oh, how sweet is that? But through simple faith that exchange occurs, your sins taken off of you and the beautiful, perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to you or given to your account in which you will stand on judgement day. Has it happened to you? Is it happening now as I speak? Is there an eyesight of your soul opening up and you can see beauty in Christ where you never saw it before? Then trust in him. Call on the name of the Lord and he will save you.

But you could say, "Pastor, I know I did all that. I know it. I don't doubt that, but I have to be honest, it has been years since anything spiritual moved me to tears or to shouts of joy. Doesn't always have to be tears. I feel dead, what can I do? What can I do?" I think you need to begin by getting alone with God and falling on your face and repenting of your sin. It's not an accident. It's not something that happened to you. It's because you forsook your first love, you made choices in your life to turn away from Jesus. He wasn't sweet enough for you anymore. And so, that pleasure that you were seeking, and I talked about it the beginning, you didn't find it in Jesus anymore, and so, you turned to creative things. You turned to hobbies, you turned to pleasures, perhaps, you even turned to sin, to lust, and you filled your pleasure tank with things, and guess what? It's leaving you empty, it's leaving you dead. And the time has come for you to turn and to repent, and say, "Lord, bring me back, warm me up." He will welcome you back. He will welcome you back richly, if you'll simply take the time to acknowledge how distant you've become from him, and stay there until He moves inside you. Isn't it worth the time? Or you can listen to what I've said and just move on, and the deadness will get even worse, if you can imagine that, and it'll get even harder for you to hear the voice of God. But I consider better things for you. I think God providentially brought you here today, if you're a Christian, to ignite your soul in Him again. Let him do it. Close with me in prayer.

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