We need to come out of the world because the power structures in the world are very captivating; they will keep you in bondage to the Evil one. Christ came to set the captives free. You say: “I didn’t know that we were in captivity.” Living in this beautiful country enjoying the freedoms that we have we don’t think much about being in captivity. Yet we are! The Bible says that we are in captivity to this world and the one who runs this world is Satan himself! The Bible says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Eph. 2:1-2) That’s the bad news. But the good news is that Christ came to set us free, to give us a new life in-Him. At the conclusion of the service I am going to give you an opportunity to come forward to accept Jesus Christ into your heart.
There are four major patterns of this world that keep us in captivity to do the will of Satan. Friends that is his design…for your life, to lead you around by the nose keeping your from experiencing the joy of your salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ has delivered us from the power of sin through His death and resurrection, but He has also delivered us from the powers of this world that keeps us in captivity. Until we allow Christ into our lives it will be impossible to be set free from this captivity of this world. So let’s look at the worldly patterns this morning that has the world in captivity.
The first pattern is “Worldly –pleasures, most evident in the worlds entertainment. The Bible says; stop being conformed to worldly pleasures. Why not? God gives us four reasons.
First, it is Satan’s ploy to keep us so busy that we lose our focus of who we are in Christ Jesus. He keeps us so busy chasing every form of entertainment that we simply have forgotten why we have been left in a world that’s passing away. Friends, we are living on a sinking ship. We don’t have time to allow ourselves to be entertained by every whim that comes our way. The Bible says; redeem the time for the days are evil. We redeem the time by making ourselves available to do God’s work. We redeem the time by refusing to be entertained. But that’s difficult. Just try to stop on your own power and you will discover that’s its nearly impossible. It’s difficult because we are so bored with life. If we were not so bored and empty, we would not need to stimulate ourselves with constant busyness. And friends this has its awful results. People are so busy that it has led them to anxiety and physical, emotional, and mental burn-out. The Bible says in the book of Ecclesiastes, “I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proves to be meaningless.” (Eccles. 2:1)
The second reason we should not seek worldly pleasure is it attempts to fill the void. The void is there because God is not. We were created to have a love-dependant relationship with God and if we don’t, there is an awful void that must be filled. People have tried to fill it with many things including other world religions, but they also attempt to fill their void with worldly pleasures and entertainment in all its forms. To do so may fill up your time but it does not really fill the void. Notice right after being entertained we fill exhausted, empty and tired. Worldly entertainment cannot fill the void that God left in every heart, which can only be filled by His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
The third reason is much of what we call entertainment today leads us down a path of unrighteousness. The Bible says, “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.” (Proverb 4:14-15) Almost every form of entertainment these days has sexual overtones. We see this in most of the movies being produced today along with much of the popular music, books, magazines, and even the evening newspaper. Think about it for a moment when was the last time your watched a movie without sexual overtones? Be honest now. We finally had to disconnect the cable from the back of our TV and use it exclusively for viewing selected Christian videos. The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but it is way that leads to destruction.” (Proverbs)
The fourth reason to avoid worldly pleasures is that it will choke the word of God. I have seen this happen countless times in the ministry. Satan leads people down the path of worldly entertainment and next thing you know they don’t seem to have time for the living God. They don’t have time to come and worship Him. Worldly pleasures and entertainment have entered in and choked the Word of God. I always try to warn new Christians about this, encouraging them to fill their time with the presence of the living God and turn from those things you did as an unbeliever. To escape captivity of the world and be a living sacrifice we need to be transformed.
God has not left us alone. His desire is to come and make His home in our heart. But this cannot happen until you invite Him into your heart. He knows that you are trapped in this world. And to live life apart from Him is meaningless. That’s exactly why he has sent His Son to die on the Cross for your sins. To cleanse us by the precious blood that was shed on the Cross. He desires to give you eternal life, a bountiful life that begins the moment you receive him as your Lord and Savior.
Later in the service I’m going to give you an opportunity to come forward and ask Him into your heart to fill that void. And when He does you will be transformed through the renewal of your mind. No longer will you spend countless hours entertaining yourself but you will seek the things above. You will spend your time in close communion with Him. Devotion will not be drudgery but it will fill your soul with the living God. It will fill you with His presence. Renewing of the mind by daily devotion to the risen Lord; living moment by moment for Christ. This is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. To come out from the world we need to stop being conformed to it.
Another pattern is worldly wisdom; I can fix my own problems, which is self Idolatry.
The world has rejected God and has turned to its own wisdom to solve the problems in the world. The world has tried desperately to reform society. It has tired relentlessly to clean up the outside of man. With all the world philosophies and psychologies they have not been able to touch the heart of man. This has not become a better place to live through the wise counsel of men.
How did this all start? It started in the Garden of Eden, when Eve saw that the fruit look good for food and for “wisdom.” This has been man’s desire from the beginning to be wise like God. But instead of turning to the One who created us, instead of turning to His Word – the Bible – which is the “how-to manual”, we have turned to our own wisdom. For example, we have the problem of anxiety or depression or maybe even suicidal tendencies, so what do we do? We find somebody like that and we begin to study them, watching their every move, recording it in our journals. We have called this doing an empirical study, which is a big word that simply means we have done our home work in studying something from the outside. But man’s wisdom did not stop here; now he brings forth his conclusion on what is wrong with man. He prints his books and makes very arrogant statements on what’s wrong with man and how to fix his problems. Friends, the Bible calls this foolishness. The wisdom of man is but the foolishness of God. He has already told us what man’s problem is. Simply put, it is sin in the world and our captivity to the evil one.
If the world was so wise, we would not have so many people in the counseling office. If the world was so wise, why has anxiety, depression, suicides, and every other form of so-called mental illness been on the rise? What is going on in the world? It is the consequences of sin. It is the consequences of turning away from a holy God who has the answers for mankind and turning to the wisdom of man. To be delivered from the captivity of this world and be a living sacrifice we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Friends, when we come to Christ He does not leave us alone but sends the Wonderful Counselor to come and live in our heart. He comes bringing gifts – wonderful gifts of peace and joy and love from the Father. Has not Christ given us everything we need on how to live life? The Bible says that He has indeed given us everything we need for living a godly life – a life free from depression, anxiety, and the many other problems plaguing our modern world. .Renewing of the mind believes that I can’t, but He can! It believes in His great and precious promises. This is a sacrifice of humility
Another pattern in this world is amassing worldly wealth.
If you are in the world then this is a very captivating pattern. Wealth has always been measured in the number of possessions that we own. And everyone is doing it, from the least of us to the greatest. There is this great march to possess as much as we can of the world’s goods. Everywhere I look I see these new places opening up to let you come and store your excess possessions. Some people are moving, but most just need another place to store their possessions. People have gotten so much that their homes can no longer store all that they have. And this is a tragedy, because you can’t take it with you.
Friends the Bible calls this greed and greed is idolatry. We live in a world that’s passing away. Jesus told us, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Then He told them a parable about a man who tore down his barns to build bigger ones so that he would have a place to keep all that he had. I’ve been in some homes where extra bedrooms are used just for storage. I have also seen other homes; (and there is one in our subdivision), where the owners need to park their cars in the drive way because their entire garage is used to store their possessions.
The Bible says, that “people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”. Friends, have you not yet learned that the love of money and possessions is a trap, which most of us have fallen into at one time or another. Think about the number of times you just go shopping – why? So that you can buy something. It feels good just to buy something new even if we cannot afford it. We want it anyway. It takes our time but it also demands our loyalty. It focuses all of our attention on self which is idolatry. To be delivered from the captivity of this world and be a living sacrifice we need to be transformed
Renewing of the mind is relinquishing all material things for this world is passing away. It’s a sacrifice of all my possessions. When we come to Christ we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. If this world is passing away then we know we can’t take it with us. So we learn how to store up treasure in heaven. This is done by learning to give ourselves to others. Everything we have belongs to God and is used for His service. Coming to Christ allows us to see things differently than before. We have a new set of eyes; no longer do we live for this world but for the One to come.
God’s provision is real riches from above. There is no greater value than His grace poured out on sinners. The Bible says, “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. It also says, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He took our sins upon Him and paid the price. There is no greater value than our salvation which is more precious than gold or silver. Dear friends, allow God to transform your mind today by coming forward and accepting this free gift of eternal life. Come out from the world and stop being conformed to its patterns!
Another pattern of this world is self-dependence on such things as our credit cards, bank accounts, good credit, 401k and insurance
This has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the Christians living in the West. Satan has used this to cause both believers and unbelievers to put their trust in anything but Christ alone. God is the same yesterday today and forever. He has always desired our complete trust in Him alone. In fact it’s so important to God that He has required it for salvation. In fact it’s the only thing that He really requires – faith! We are saved by our faith. Yet the world has put its faith in many other things other than the living God. The kind of faith that God desires is total trust and reliability in Him for all of life. As we have seen, the world has caused us to transfer our trust in many things other than God alone. It has led us to put trust in our own wisdom apart from the God of heaven. It has caused us to put trust in our jobs, our credit cards, our bank account, our retirement accounts, and our investments.
But we have seen lately that putting our trust in money has left many penniless. It has robbed them of their retirement. Others who have put their trust in their jobs have ended upon the unemployment rolls. Many who have put their trust in Credit Cards have had to file bankruptcy. The props in society such as the military, politics, and our economy are crumbling. We have seen it when huge companies such as Enron and WorldCom crumble in front of our very eyes. We have seen its devastating effects upon its investors and its employees. Friends, the only One we can really trust is the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a hard lesson even in our day. The Israelites learned this lesson in the desert many years ago. We all can remember the story of the manna from heaven (expound). To be a living sacrifice we need to be transformed.
Renewing of the mind is learning total dependence upon the risen Lord Jesus Christ. We were created for a love-dependent relationship with God. And this is a sacrifice of self. When we put our trust in the living God and His Son who came to save us we will not be disappointed. When we come out from the world, stop being conformed to the pattern of this world, and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to transform us, then we come under His protection. We now become His responsibility. We are His children and He is our Father. Friends that’s exciting! He has many great and precious promises that have been given to those who have come out of the world and put their trust in Him.
In a few minutes we are going to give you a chance to accept Christ into your heart perhaps for the first time. He died for you on the Cross, He was buried, and on the third day He was raised from the dead. If you believe this say – amen. He came from heaven above to save us from the captivity of this world and transfer us to the kingdom of righteousness. He has paid the price for you.
Proving God’s Will
We now turn to the last point that says if we come out of the world and are transformed by the renewing of our mind, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2b) I will not have to tell you what that is, for everyone will know it from the least of us to the greatest. It will be common knowledge that God’s will is rescuing the perishing. That’s it – His simple yet profound will. Friends, this world is passing away and every day people are perishing without any hope of salvation. Every day old people, young people, rich people and poor people are dying without Christ and their eternal destiny will not be heaven. It will not be falling into the loving hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Most of us are familiar with the story of the Titanic that struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912 at 11:40PM (20 minutes before Midnight) Many of its passengers had already put on their night gowns and turned in for the evening. They were fast asleep with no idea of the pending doom, while others filled the parlors and the dance floor enjoying the best of entertainment and merrymaking that this great ship could provide. From the moment the alarm sounded to the sinking of the ship there was only a short two hours and forty minutes.
Not everyone knew that the ship was sinking. Many of the poor on the lower decks who spoke a foreign language did not discern the pending danger. And those who did not want to part with their possessions did not make their way to the upper decks to safety. It is a recorded fact that many of the life boats that awful morning left the ship half empty, with statements that there was no one there to put into the boats. Here is the tragedy!
- It took one hour and five minuets to launch the first boat because of the false hope that another ship might come along side and save all the passengers. Friends today many are given the false hope that they too can wait for their salvation. We too have not launched out to save those who are perishing because we believe there is still time on our side. Satan has deceived the church into thinking that they can wait before sounding the warning and launching the life boats.
- The second tragedy is that the world cannot hear the church speak in its own language. The simple gospel message that warns those to flee the sinking ship has become indiscernible. Satan has blinded the unbeliever to the message of the gospel. He no longer hears the warning to flee the wrath that is coming upon the whole world. If they would discern the time and their eternal consequences then their possessions would no longer have such a hold on them.
- Another tragedy if you permit me to make another analogy- is that we are also living on a sinking ship. We may have a bit longer than 2 hours and 40 minutes but who knows how much longer – if not shorter? It’s an absolute tragedy to spend our time entertaining ourselves with worldly entertainment when millions in the world are dying without Christ. Satan has kept us so busy and pre-occupied with self when the ship is going down – the world is passing away. The world is pre-occupied with its own quest for knowledge, its desire for worldly wealth, and depending on its own props instead of depending on Christ alone.
Friends the ship is sinking and I beg you to get up, get dressed, get on your life preserver and follow me to the top of the deck where life boats are waiting to take you to safety! There is no time to waste! Leave you possessions! Leave everything and follow me to the risen Lord who is here today to save you from the wrath to come, to save you from the burning fires of damnation!
This is what I’m going to ask you to do…