Selective sanctification – Luke 11:33-36

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

There are really two lessons here:

1. Don’t hide the light you have.
2. Make your whole self full of light.

Most often, when I’ve heard this passage taught, the focus is on the first lesson.  I also cannot read it without hearing a cheerful melody resonating in my head.  

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

So let’s focus on the second one:  Make your whole self full of light.

In other words, we need to beware of what we might call Selective Sanctification.

Let’s read Luke 11:35-36 again.

35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.

Sometimes we can want to be holy, but only in the ways that we like best.  Then at the same time, we leave a little room for a few other things – maybe things that are not really holy at all.  We can have our favorite (little?) sins.  We can have the ones we don’t yet realize we have and maybe don’t really want to even know about.

Leviticus 11:44-45 says,

44 For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy … 45 For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

A few chapters later, in Leviticus 20:26, we read,

You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

Then in the New Testament, Peter reminds us, in 1 Peter 1:14-16,

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

We need to be holy all the way through.  And if you think you are there yet, think again. Beware of selective sanctification; just be holy.

Luke 14 – Verse by Verse

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This chapter starts with a miraculous healing.  Jesus then teaches us about following him.  His invitation is open to all, but those who accept it must be willing to place put Jesus before everyone or everything else and even their very lives.

Luke 14.pdf

Luke 14.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video:  https://www.facebook.com/horizoncentral/videos/651452032317248/

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 14

Dear Heavenly Father,

Let us begin by humbling ourselves before you and accepting the invitation that you give to any and all who are willing to come to you.  We need your grace for our salvation and beyond – to live this Christian life from day to day.

Further, we know that discipleship is costly, but we also remember that any price we might have to pay will be worth it in the end.  We bring no merit of our own to this commitment. Help us to serve you well and serve you faithfully – to take up our cross, remembering that our lives are not our own but that we belong to you.

Finally, we also remember you as our healer – the one who has all power over all sickness and disease.  For those who are sick and for those who are working on their behalf, we pray for your grace and extra amounts of help from you at this time.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

 

Of course it’s worth it – Luke 14:26-33

There is a paradox involved in serving Jesus.  We know we are saved by grace and that the eternal life we receive from God is nothing but a gift from him.  At the same time, Jesus makes it very clear that discipleship is truly costly.  This is a cost we all need to count.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

First some clarification of that love/hate thing.  Those words, love and hate, were used in that culture at that time as comparative terms, not necessarily opposites. Matthew makes this clearer than Luke, in Matthew 10:37-38.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

But the point Jesus makes is still stark.  Our love of God and determination to follow Jesus must be our highest affections.  No person or thing, not even our own lives, can stand in the way of our commitment to Christ.  Nothing can be held as superior to him.  

These are serious words and must be taken as seriously as they are meant.  Jesus encourages us to count the cost.  Are we ready to pay this price?  Can we finish building the tower?  Are we ready to go to war?  Remember, we need to renounce all that we have.

Of course the most faithful, fully devoted discipleship worth any price we might pay.  Does  t bring tension into some relationships?  It’s worth it.  Do we even lose one or more of those relationships as result of following Christ?  Will it affect us materially, in the realm of our career goals, wealth or possessions?  Probably so, according to Jesus, to all of the above questions.  Still, it’s worth it.

Paul served Jesus a long time and endured far more than most in exchange.  Let’s remember the conclusions of his thorough assessment in 2 Corinthians 4:17.  No matter what we face as we follow Jesus, it is nearly nothing.  The glory that awaits us is better to an absurd extreme.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

We need to count the cost of discipleship, but of course this will only determine for us that it’s worth it in the end.

Luke 13 – Verse by Verse

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In this chapter, Jesus reminds us in various ways of the dangers of false or misguided religion.  Specifically, he will point out that a person can be very close to the kingdom of God without getting in.

Luke 13.pdf

Luke 13.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video:  https://www.facebook.com/horizoncentral/videos/204064051025237/

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 13

Heavenly Father,

At present, we see that good and bad things happen to both good and bad people.

We accept the way that you maintain your control over the world, allowing evil and tragedy to exist side-by-side with everything that is good.  Even within the church, the living expression of Christ’s life on earth, we see that there is corruption.  Help us not to be a part of that problem, but rather be part of the solution.

Help us not to trust in ourselves, in our own goodness, merit or virtue or righteous works.  We see that before your holiness, the only safe way to approach you is in humility, admitting our guilt and seeing our need for repentance.

Forgive us of our sins, fill us with your Spirit.  Help us to live completely for you, relying on your power, the power of Christ’s resurrection life at work with us.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

A chance to repent – Luke 13:1-5

When extreme tragedy strikes, there is an almost universal tendency to see that the person somehow had it coming to them.  Call it karma, call it something else, the tendency has always been there.  The Bible has a version of this, memorably expressed by Paul in Galatians 6:7-8.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

At the same time, the Bible sees this principle as limited, at least in this life.  The story of Job is an excellent example.  A perfectly righteous man endures terrible hardship, while his friends try to make sense of it as best they can.  Perhaps inevitably, they resort to blaming Job for his own troubles.  They were wrong, but they add much insult to Job’s injury before they are forced to see it.  God sets all things right at the very end, but it took Job a long time and a lot of undeserved suffering to get there.

Jesus encountered this kind of thinking one day and answered it perfectly as always.  Let’s read it from Luke 13.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The Galileans killed by Pilate and the victims of the fallen tower were no worse people than anyone else.  The twist in Christ’s version is not that they were especially innocent in God’s eyes, but that everyone else is comparably guilty.  This is the biblical view of sin.  It is the bad news that makes the good news of the gospel good.

We are all in need of repentance.  That is one of the earliest lessons that the Bible aims to teach us.  At some level, we are guilty before a perfectly holy God.  Sure, there may be mitigating factors to the particular level of our guilt.  A certain temptation was especially difficult.  Under the circumstances there were no good choices.  We have a natural tendency to do this or that.  Someone or something drove us to a point where we reacted, which was wrong.  But, in the end, we are wrong too.  We have sinned because we are fundamentally flawed members of a flawed race who eventually lived up – or maybe down – to our potential.  We sinned and fell short of perfect holiness, which is the standard of the one and only thoroughly holy God.

The solution is repentance.  We are not to hold onto our sin and cherish it.  We are to turn from it and turn our hearts toward our divinely provided Savior.  This is the point made by Jesus when he says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

John 3:16 steers us directly to this principle.  We have a chance to repent right now.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.