J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

3 Truths About Yourself – Romans 12:3-8 Part One

The audio for this sermon can be found at http://www.sermoncloud.com/sovereign-king-church/

So often, when it comes to evaluating ourselves, our gifts, our talents, etc, we either think way too much or way too little of ourselves.  We are all either Donald Trump and the kings of self-promotion or we are Eeyore walking around thinking we are not much of a donkey.   People of each extreme are pretty difficult to work with.  The kings of self-promotion always have their best interest at heart, whine the loudest when their ideas aren’t the ones the group go with, and they rarely can offer a sincere apology.  The Eeyores are comfortable in their own worlds that are safe and secure, so they risk very little, always have an excuse for underperforming, and rarely have enthusiasm for anything other than that in which they are comfortable.  At a quick glance, the Donald Trumps and Eeyores of the world are not that much different.

I wish the church was immune from these extremes but sadly, she is not.  Thinking too much of yourself is a direct contradiction of commands like, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord,” and “Consider others better than yourself.”   Thinking nothing of yourself spits in the face of your being created in the image of God and denies any power and work of Jesus Christ.  As a result, Kingdom work often is led without faith by people of competing interests.

It is no wonder so many people flee corporate worship every year.  One of the more prevailing trends of American Christianity in the past decade is the attitude that God is completely okay with believers in Jesus living their lives of faith separated from other believers.  The thought of being connected with a body of believers (whether that group meets in a building, a school, or home) seems almost repugnant to many Christians.

My two cents:  Whenever the Gospel takes a back seat to any other effort or personality of the church, people will flee.

No matter the reason, reducing Christianity to “Jesus and Me” minimizes the efforts of Christ in both building His church and making His bride beautiful.  The body of Christ is designed with wonderfully diverse people, gifts, roles, and functions.  Bringing them together requires extra measures of grace (never a bad thing) and requires believers to grow in forgiving and restoring (again, never a bad thing).

Denying the body of Christ access to your unique gifts and talents not only hinders the work of the Kingdom of God, it fails to recognize and glorify God for the grand plan that He has orchestrated.  I Corinthians 12:18,24  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.  But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Growing in living with one another and utilizing the gifts of God is the challenge before us.  With that wonderfully big vision of God’s work before us, let’s ask ourselves this Big Picture Question this week:

Big Picture Question:  What fuels and equips the gifts that God uses within the church?

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

As always, we need to remind ourselves of the context of the passage before us.  Last week, we looked at chapter 12:1-2 and in that we saw Paul issue two commands.  Believers in Christ are now to offer themselves physically as living sacrifices to God in a spiritual act of worship.  In giving Jesus Christ as a perfect sacrifice, God has enabled His children by His mercies to live sacrificially.  He has enabled you to die to sin sacrificially.  He has enabled you to serve others sacrificially.  The believer is to live out of these truths today by not conforming to this world.  Doing this causes you to look and act and believe and speak in such a way that your life stands in contrast to every person that you interact with that doesn’t yet know Jesus Christ.

So after speaking about being a living sacrifice in the context of the world, Paul talks about what being a living sacrifice looks like within the context of the church.  Just as we saw last week, it is the grace and mercy of God that fuel this sacrificial living no matter the context

He offers 3 steps to prepare our hearts to live sacrificially within the church.

  • Step One:  Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought.
  • Step Two:  Think with sober judgment.
  • Step Three:  Live by the measure of faith that God has given you.

Step One:  Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought.

A good question to ask is how do we know how highly we should think of ourselves?  I would say that question can’t really be answered apart from scripture for these reasons.  Sin always skews our view of ourselves.  Sin makes objectivity a rare gift, so we need a mirror to the human soul to help us and that mirror is the scriptures.  So scripturally, how highly should you think of yourself?

The first place we should look to the declaration that God has created us and designed us in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  What this means is that every human person is created with dignity and worthy of respect as they are to some extent stamped with an indelible impression of God.  Whether or not you like a person, agree with them politically, find them attractive or ugly, no matter their race, religion, or sexual orientation, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect because they, like you, are created in the image of God.  This is actually the highest any of us can think of ourselves.  God valued you to such an extent that He made you like Himself in some way.

The second place we should look in scripture is how sin affects the image of God that we were created with.

First of all if you are not a believer, scripture describes the effects of sin in this way.  I Corinthians 15:22 states that every human being dies physically and spiritually because of Adam.  Romans 5:17 says that because of Adam, sin reigns in the lives of those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as their savior.  Romans 8 states that those who are unforgiven and spiritually dead cannot please God with their life, actions, or thoughts.

But Romans 7 explains how sin now affects the believer in Christ.  You recognize that the words and laws of God are good.  You recognize you are fleshly and born as a slave to sin.  As a believer you want to obey.  As a believer you hate sin.  As a believer you still very often choose to sin despite wanting to obey.  You recognize that sin still dwells within you.  You thank God that He enables you through God to obey at all.  2 Corinthians 5:21 states that Jesus who had no sin, became sin on behalf of believers so that they could possess the very righteousness of God.

These are the options that each of you have before you right now.  Every single person is either dead in sin, facing the condemnation of God, and are not able to please God in any way.  Or a person can be forgiven by God by faith in Jesus Christ, they will be given a goodness apart from themselves which is Jesus’.  Despite these wonderful truths, there is a continual, ongoing struggle with sin and quite often, the believer still chooses to sin despite knowing the power of sin and devastation it brings.  The takeaway is that believers in Christ should always be humble in their assessment of themselves not thinking highly at all.

So with that in mind, we ask, “What is the second step toward preparing our hearts to live sacrificially within the church.

Step Two:  Think about yourself with sober judgment.

Knowing these truths of step one, each person should look at themselves with sober judgment.  Sober judgment is how a diverse church full of diverse gifts can work together.  What exactly does thinking about yourself with sober judgment mean btw?  Well, sober judgment doesn’t begin by looking to either ourselves or others but looking to Christ.  In looking at Christ, we see ultimate significance and value.

Do you want to have significance? Then embrace Christ as the one who is infinitely significant to you. Do you want to have value? Then embrace Christ as infinitely valuable. Do you want to want to have esteem? Then embrace Christ as worthy of infinite esteem.  Our faith in Christ is the measure of our significance and value and esteem, because faith means looking away from ourselves to Christ and embracing him as the all-satisfying embodiment of all that is significant and valuable and worthy of esteem. The measure of our new self in Christ—the renewed mind—is the degree to which we look away from ourselves to Christ as our truth and treasure.”  John Piper

Sober judgment doesn’t mean that we look to Jesus for OUR value and significance.  It means we look to Christ as valuable and significant.

“If Christ is more to you, you are more. If Christ is less to you, you are less. Your measure rises and falls with your measure of him. Your valuing him is the value that you have. Your esteeming him is the esteem that you have. Your treasuring him is the treasure that you are.”  John Piper

Step Three:  Live by the measure of faith that God has given you.

To truly walk in this humility and sobriety, a person has to walk by faith.  That faith is a gift from God and the amount of faith a person has comes from God.  Faith in God does not originate in and of itself within you.  Faith in God is alien to sinful humans.  Ephesians 2:8, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive?

Faith is the gift given to each believer, but apparently some have greater faith in God than others.  In fact, a believer can evidence different amounts of faith at different times in their life.    Scripture presents faith as something that can be growing stronger.  2 Thessalonians 1:3: “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”  Scriptures also present faith as something than can be weak.  Romans 14:1, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him.

I think this is an experience in which every Christian can relate.  There are times where you feel like you have great trust in God, His grace, and His plan, and then you live and make decisions based on that faith.  You find yourself living and acting not with great confidence in yourself but with great confidence in God.  And then there are those times when you doubt very much that God can and will do anything.  You cognitively say, “God can do anything,” but you don’t live like it.  You know if your faith in God dips, the only place that faith can go is faith in yourself.  Not trusting God is trusting in your own thoughts, skills, and abilities which is also called idolatry.

So how are humility and sobriety more clear in light of the faith that God assigns you.  God intends each and every one of you to recognize that humility is the posture of the Christian.  God intends for each and every one of you to find value, esteem, and honor only in Jesus Christ and not in yourself or anything conferred upon yourself.  Then God wants you to ask yourself the very sober and humbling question, “How much am I trusting God today?”  Am I trusting my wisdom more than I am trusting God’s  Do I say I believe God can do anything but function like I’m the one who has to do everything?

Asking those questions help you to understand the measure faith that you presently have.  Do you find yourself feeling like your faith is low and ebbing?  Do you wish you had greater faith?  If so, cry out like the Father of the boy with the unclean spirit, “I believe.  Help my unbelief!”  Then, you are ready to live out your living sacrifice among the church.  Look at that description in verses 4-5

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January 10, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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