Set Apart by God for Good Works

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 5.12.54 PMThis coming Sunday at Southern Calvert Baptist Church, during our Sunday School hour, we are going to cover how God sets us apart to be a Royal Priesthood so that we can walk in the good works that He prepared from before the foundation of the world was laid. We have been walking through the books of Exodus and Leviticus. Previously, we looked at the daily sacrifices that we offered in Israel on a daily basis. There were 5 sacrifices and 2 of those 5 were dedicated to reminding the children of Israel to be grateful to God and to be grateful to each other. If you do the math, that equates to roughly 40 percent of the sacrifices, dedicated to reminding people to be grateful.

I. Consecration

God wants to consecrate us. This means to set us apart. He wants to make us different from the rest of the world around us. How are we going to be made different? All people who have ever been born, were born with a sin nature. This means that we are bent in the wrong direction. We miss God’s mark of perfection. Consecration means that we are set back straight. That makes us different from the world around us that is still crooked. How is this possible? Let’s turn to Ephesians 2:1-10 to find the answer.

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved ),
6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Verse 1-3 explain what it looks like when we are bent in the wrong direction. We are dead (spiritually), separated from God our Creator because of our sins. We are going the wrong way? How does that manifest itself? It is the way of the world. Everyone lives this way. It manifests in the form of disobedience. The Greek root of the word that we have translated as disobedience is “unbelief”. People who are bent in the wrong direction are not convinced that God is who He says He is and they do not surrender to the message of the Gospel (the Word of God). How does this lack of belief manifest itself? Living according to the lusts of our flesh and indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind. The consequences of this bend in the wrong direction is experiencing God’s wrath. That is hopeless. It is a good thing that the chapter does not end here. Verse 4 begins with “BUT GOD“. Praise the Lord that God does not want us to live bent in the wrong direction. He intervenes, based on His character. God shows mercy to us. This means that He does not give us what we deserve. We deserve His immediate wrath. God then shows grace to us by giving us what we do not deserve, His love. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are brought to life. We are made righteous. The root of the word righteous is “straight”. Because of Jesus Christ, we are made straight. This sets us apart from the rest of the world around us. We were born crooked and then were made straight by Jesus Christ. The reason that God straightens us out is so that we can now walk in the good works that God prepared for us. How can we stay straight, knowing that we still have a sin nature that wants to bend us back in the wrong direction?

II. Confrontation

In order to stay on the right track or, in order to keep from straying back to our crooked ways, we need correction. We need someone to come along side of us and show us where we are wrong, for our own good. After Aaron became High Priest, he was to teach his sons how to carry out the daily duties in the tabernacle. The men chose not to listen and tried to do things their own way. They brought strange fire into the tabernacle. Aaron should have been there to confront them and correct them. For whatever reason, Aaron did not correct them. As a result, these two boys lost their lives. We need correction for our own good.

In God’s economy, when it comes to receiving correction in the form of Biblical discipline, there are only two types of people; the wise, who receive correction and then the foolish who respond the following way, based on Proverbs 1.

In Proverbs 1:20-25, we see that God shares His wisdom with all who will listen. The fool is naive. He has a chance to hear and learn from the wisdom of God yet he chooses not to listen. He is described as simple-minded because he hates knowledge. That knowledge can lead to wisdom if he would just allow it. God wants to teach all of us. In order to teach us, He needs to reprove us (show us where we are wrong) so that He can correct us and then train us to stay there.

The next passage is Proverbs 17:10. The reproof and correction do not sink in because the fool does not allow them to sink in. He sees reproof and correction as blows and rejects them. Reproof and correction are not received well. I want to pause and ask again, how do you respond when you are reproved and corrected? How do you feel?

Another passage that we can examine is Hebrews 12:5. A foolish person regards lightly reproof and correction. He does not pay attention to them. Or, he faints when reproved. He becomes a “drama queen” and just cannot take it anymore.

The final passage that I would like to consider is Revelation 3:19. The biggest reason that the fool remains foolish is because he does not repent once reproved and corrected.

My dear friend, when was the last time that you were corrected? How did you respond? What were the results? Did you accept it? Were you changed?

Correction is much needed if I am going to stay on the straight path and not get pulled back to my crooked ways. I need someone in my life who loves me enough to tell me where I am wrong and help me get back right. Do you have a person like this in your life?

III. Confession

I have noticed a trend among Evangelicals when it comes to confessing sins. I live in an area of the country that is predominately Catholic. Many of the born again Evangelicals in this area are former Catholics. Confession is something that is not fully understood. One extreme, practiced by many Catholics, is that unless I confess to a priest and he absolves me of my sins, I cannot be forgiven. The other extreme is, I only have to confess my sins to God and He forgives me and I move on. Both of those views miss the clear teachings of the Bible. In I John 1:9, God tells us that when (not if) we sin, we are to confess our sins to Him. We appeal to His character. He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God does not stop with telling us to confess to Him. He is the only One who can forgive us and cleanse us, we have to realize that. On the other hand, God also tells us to confess our sins to spiritual leaders (see James 5:13-16). This confession is important because by doing this, we invite someone to hold us accountable. I need accountability. I need accountability. Without accountability, I will confess to God but not be able to give up the specific sin that I confess. That sin will become a stronghold in my life, pulling me back to my crooked ways. If I really want freedom, I need to confess to a spiritual leader who can hold me accountable. Are you ready to do that? Do you want to stay on the straight path or, do you want to get pulled back to your  crooked ways? Christ has come to give us abundant life and this is what it looks like. We are bent in the wrong direction because of our sin nature. When we place our faith in Christ, He straightens us out. We need someone to love us enough to confront and correct us for our own good. I need to appreciate the correction. I also need to confess, both to God and to a spiritual leader so that specific sins do not become strongholds in my life.

May the Lord help us live a life that is set apart for good works to the glory of God.

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