#3 (The “Forgetting” Series)
Text: Heb. 13:9-16 Rom. 12:1-2
INTRO: We live at a time when SELF has become the modern god! Never before have we had such an era of so much self-indulgence. “Self-help” books are big sellers, often on the top 10 best seller’s list. All kinds of exercise programs and gyms have sprung up for those who want to rebuild their bodies. The great load of counseling today demonstrates also the great movement toward understanding “self.” The lack of concern for one another in our society shows how much we have turned inward toward self. The fanaticism about self shows up in our broken marriage statistics, the demands in this country by various groups to have equal rights no matter their lifestyle, the pampering of culture toward making individual experience the ultimate experience. We are living in the age when “everyone does that which is right in their own eyes!” This has happened before in the history of the world! It shows in the way people avoid commitments so they can be “free.”
It is ironic that in a world obsessed with “self-fulfillment” people are so empty! True self-fulfillment comes when we FORGET SELF, not when we indulge self!
PROP. SENT: It is the nature of all life forms to put self first, but the Bible teaches us that when we receive our new nature in Christ we are to put self last! We are called to forget self ... in order to truly find it!
I. THE SACRIFICE Heb. 13:9-14
A. Rituals 13:9-12
1. The Pharisees and others took great pains to follow rituals to create the sensation of salvation although their personal lives were filled with selfish indulgences!
a. While these Pharisees wore special robes underneath those robes were the same wicked sinners they condemned in their many speeches!
b. They wore phylacteries (boxes with Scripture verses folded inside them) on their foreheads and arms, yet they didn’t practice those verses in their private lives!
c. They were so careful to wash their hands according to the Law of Moses yet their hearts and minds were dirty!
d. They were strict about worshipping on the Sabbath but they got angry with Jesus when He healed the sick on the Sabbath, they thought no one should do work on the Lord’s day, even good works like healing people!
e. They were so careful about presenting sacrifices in the prescribed way but they would not sacrifice themselves for others!
2. All the rituals in the world will not make you spiritual no matter what kind of denominational structure they are found in!
a. You can go through the motions of anyone’s rituals and still not experience real spirituality!
b. Those that depended on rituals missed the fruit of real sacrifice.
ILLUS: THE PHARISEES HAD TAKEN THE 10 COMMANDMENTS AND HAD BROKEN DOWN GOD’S LAWS TO 613 COMMANDS TO BE FOLLOWED; GREAT EFFORTS WERE TAKEN TO EMBRACE THESE 613 LAWS. THE PROBLEM WAS THAT JUST FOLLOWING RITUALISTICALLY THESE LAWS DIDN’T BRING PEACE WITH GOD FOR IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP THEM ALL. JESUS HAD SAID THAT ANYONE GUILTY OF BREAKING ONE LAW HAD BROKEN THE WHOLE LAW. IT IS LIKE THESE 613 LAWS WERE CHAIN LINKS, AND YOU ARE HOLDING ON TO THIS CHAIN OVER THE PIT OF HELL – WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF JUST ONE LINK BROKE OUT OF THE 613? YOU WOULD FALL OF COURSE IN THEIR MINDS. – SOURCE UNKNOWN
3. Jesus made a better way for us than just rituals, He sacrificed Himself for us and thus gave us real RIGHTEOUSNESS and not just RITUALS!
a. He demonstrated the way to fulfillment of self, the sacrifice of self – total!
b. Jesus died to self long before dying on the cross, He showed us the way of real joy and real peace!
B. Real! 13:13-14
1. The hardest thing to do is to give up self, it goes against the strongest drive of our being – self-preservation!
2. Jesus did away with the rituals of sacrifice and showed a better way, the giving of self as the sacrifice!
a. Killing animals didn’t cost man much, but it cost the animals everything!
b. When Christ gave Himself it cost everything, He gave himself for us!
3. Jesus was real, the animals were only rituals!
a. As Christians we are called to be real sacrifices for His kingdom.
b. Not just tokenism!
ILLUS: IN THE MOVIE “SHIOKARI PASS” A YOUNG MAN BECAME A HERO. HE HAD WORKED HARD EVERY DAY FOR THE TIME WHEN HE AND HIS FIANCÉE COULD MARRY. THAT TIME HAD FINALLY COME. HE WAS TRAVELING BY TRAIN TO GET TO HIS FIANCÉE AND MARRY HER WHEN THERE WAS A SUDDEN SHUTTER NEAR THE PEAK OF A STEEP HILL. AS HE GOT UP TO SEE WHAT HAD HAPPENED HE NOTICED THE TRAIN CAR HE WAS RIDING ON HAD SOMEHOW BECOME DISCONNECTED FROM THE REST OF THE TRAIN, UNFORTUNATELY IT WAS ON THE UPSIDE OF THE STEEP MOUNTAIN AND NOW THE CAR WAS BEGINNING TO REVERSE AND GO BACK DOWN THE MOUNTAIN ALONE. THERE WERE MANY OTHERS ON THIS TRAIN CAR WITH HIM. HAVING WORKED FOR THIS RAILROAD, HE KNEW THAT AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS MOUNTAIN THERE WAS A SHARP CURVE AND BY THE TIME THEY WOULD GET THERE THEY WOULD BE GOING TOO FAST TO STAY ON THE TRACK. HE CLIMBED TO THE TOP OF THE CAR TRYING TO CALM THE PASSENGERS INSIDE TO PULL THE HANDBRAKE. EVEN WITH THE HANDBRAKE ON FULLY THE CAR WAS STILL MOVING TOO FAST AND NOT SLOWING DOWN. JUST THEN HE REMEMBERED HIS FAVORITE VERSE OF SCRIPTURE, “GREATER LOVE HAS NO ONE THAN THIS, THAT ONE LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS.” ALTHOUGH HE HAD EVERYTHING TO LIVE FOR, HE JUMPED ON THE TRACKS AND USED HIS OWN BODY TO CREATE THE EXTRA DRAG NEEDED TO SLOW THE CAR DOWN. IT WORKED! EVERYONE LIVED, EXCEPT HIM! HE HAD SACRIFICED HIMSELF FOR EVERYONE ELSE! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. Jesus didn’t come to just teach us the right way but to show us the right way!
a. He is the example for us to follow, this means sacrificing self!
b. Jesus’ sacrifice was real and not just a token! He forgot self so He could save us!
ILLUS: LIKE CHARLES DICKEN’S NOVEL “A TALE OF TWO CITIES,” A YOUNG FRENCH ARISTOCRAT WAS CONDEMNED TO DIE BY THE GUILLOTINE DURING THE BLOODY FRENCH REVOLUTION, HIS PUNISHMENT DETERMINED SOLELY ON HIS FOREFATHER’S CRIMES AGAINST THE PEASANTRY. THE HOUR BEFORE HIS EXECUTION HE WAS VISITED BY A YOUNG ENGLISH FRIEND WHO COULD HAVE PASSED FOR HIS TWIN. AFTER THE GUARD LEFT, THE FRIEND OVERPOWERED THE DOOMED MAN WITH AN ANESTHETIC AND EXCHANGED CLOTHES WITH HIM. THEN, PRETENDING TO BE THE ONE CONDEMNED TO DIE, HE CALLED THE JAILOR AND ASKED THAT HIS UNCONSCIOUS “VISITOR” WHOM HE TOLD THE GUARD HAD BEEN OVERCOME WITH GRIEF, BE REMOVED AND RETURNED TO HIS HOME. THE NOBLEMAN WAS THUS SAVED FROM DEATH BY THIS SACRIFICE. ON THE WAY TO THE GUILLOTINE THE YOUNG ENGLISHMAN SPOKE THESE FINAL WORDS: “IT IS A FAR FAR BETTER THING THAT I DO, THAN I HAVE EVER DONE BEFORE...” THEN HE COMFORTED HIMSELF WITH THESE WORDS: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE” SAITH THE LORD: “HE THAT BELIEVETH IN ME, THOUGH HE WERE DEAD, YET SHALL HE LIVE.” JOHN 11:25 – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. Jesus didn’t just preach self-sacrifice, He demonstrated it, and we are called to be like our master!
6. Christianity won’t be any different from most of this world’s religions if we don’t practice real sacrifice!
a. The world is good at rituals.
b. The Christian must be good at real sacrifice!
II. A SACRIFICE Heb. 13:15-16
A. Redemptive Heb. 13:15-16 Rom. 12:1-2
1. Since Jesus showed the way by being THE sacrifice, we should become A sacrifice!
2. Jesus’ sacrifice was redemptive, it was for others that He died to self; we are called to be a redemptive people and thus to sacrifice self for others as well.
3. To forget self is not an easy task, it requires humility, to become a servant, to serve!
ILLUS: A STUDENT AT A BIBLE COLLEGE IN THE PHILIPPINES BECAME DISTURBED OVER THE CONDITION OF THE MEN’S REST ROOMS, SINCE THEY ALWAYS SEEMED TO BE NEGLECTED IN THE CLEANING ROUTINE. WHEN NOTHING WAS DONE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF THE FILTH HE WENT TO THE PRINCIPLE OF THE SCHOOL AND COMPLAINED. A LITTLE WHILE LATER HE NOTICED THINGS HAD CHANGED FOR THE BETTER AND THEN ONE DAY HE FOUND OUT WHY, HE NOTICED THAT THE MAN WITH THE MOP AND PAIL EACH DAY WAS THE PRINCIPLE HIMSELF! LATER THIS STUDENT COMMENTED, “I THOUGHT HE WOULD CALL A JANITOR, BUT HE CLEANED THE BATHROOMS HIMSELF, IT WAS A MAJOR LESSON TO ME ON BEING A SERVANT AND OF COURSE IT RAISED THE QUESTION IN MY OWN MIND AS TO WHY I HADN’T TAKEN CARE OF THE PROBLEM!” – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. It is not an easy task to forget self, but it is the redemptive role we are called to!
5. Our simply following rituals doesn’t do anything for God, only those things we do that involve real sacrifices make a difference!
6. The kinds of sacrifices Jesus is pleased with have nothing to do with sacrificing animals, it has to do with giving up self!
7. God isn’t interested in dead sacrifices, He wants living ones! Rom. 12:1
a. A sacrifice is something you give up!
b. We are called upon as Christians to forget self, to offer up “self” as a real sacrifice!
c. This is pleasing to God and is our reasonable service to God; Paul says we are to do this!
d. The only problem with a “living sacrifice” however is that they have a tendency to crawl off the altar all the time when the heat is applied!
ILLUS: WHEN DAVID LIVINGSTONE HAD PENETRATED THE HEART OF AFRICA WITH THE GOSPEL HE HAD A MISSION SOCIETY WRITE HIM A LETTER WITH THE FOLLOWING REQUEST: “HAVE YOU FOUND A GOOD ROAD TO WHERE YOU ARE? IF SO, WE WANT TO SEND YOU MEN TO JOIN YOU IN MINISTRY.” LIVINGSTONE REPLIED BACK: “IF YOU HAVE MEN WHO WILL COME ONLY IF THEY KNOW THERE IS A GOOD ROAD I DON’T WANT THEM. I WANT MEN WHO WILL COME IF THERE IS NO ROAD AT ALL!” THIS IS THE SACRIFICE OF SELF! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
B. Renewal Rom. 12:2
1. It won’t be an easy task to forget “self,” the mentality of the world is contrary to doing so; the pattern of this world is to think of “self” first!
a. So how do we hope to accomplish the task of forgetting self?
b. It is going to take a transforming process of our thoughts!
2. Jesus’ example and the Word of God are the vehicles for transforming our thinking; the Holy Spirit is the power behind the process!
a. Until we start thinking differently from this world our behavior won’t be any different!
b. Getting saved is a good start, but studying God’s Word is necessary to transforming our behavior!
c. Salvation is not an automatic cure for all our behavior issues; these become a part of the process of God’s Spirit renewing our minds and thus us over time!
3. Transformation is only possible where renewal of our minds takes place! 12:2
4. Once we think like Kingdom citizens we will act like them!
a. This validates the importance of training our children in God’s Word from the time they are young, they learn to think “kingdom” early!
b. Jesus said it this way, “as a man thinks in his heart so is he!”
5. It can be quite powerful when we think like Jesus; it makes it easier to forget self when we think like Christ!
ILLUS: A LITTLE GIRL’S FIRST GRADE CLASS HELD ITS “TRACK AND FIELD” DAY. SHE WON QUITE A FEW RIBBONS, AMONG THEM A BLUE RIBBON FOR FIRST PLACE. LATER THAT DAY WHEN SHE GOT HOME THE BLUE RIBBON WAS MISSING, AND SO HER MOTHER ASKED HER, “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR BLUE RIBBON FOR FIRST PLACE?” THE LITTLE GIRL TOLD HOW A BOY NAMED BRUCE WAS CRYING BECAUSE HE DIDN’T WIN THE FIRST PLACE BLUE RIBBON, SO SHE GAVE IT TO HIM. HER MOTHER HUGGED HER AND TOLD HER HOW SHE THOUGHT IT WAS VERY GENEROUS OF HER LITTLE GIRL TO DO THIS. HER DAUGHTER THEN SAID, “WHY NOT, AFTER ALL, I KNOW THAT I WON IT ANYWAYS!” HE HAD THE RIBBON, BUT SHE HAD THE VICTORY! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
6. According to this passage of Paul’s (Rom. 12:2) you will prove God’s will in your life if you learn to forget self!
a. You will accomplish God’s “perfect will” 12:2b
b. Notice that we “prove HIS will” ... not OUR WILL!
c. The only way to do HIS will is not to do OUR will! To do this requires us to forget our self!
7. The great irony of all this is that the more we forget our self the more fulfilled we find our self! When it is empty God can fill it with HIMSELF!
CONCLUSION: Eve’s temptation was to do something for her “self” – to forget God! At the basis of all sin we find “self.” Jesus on the other hand “emptied” or forgot “self” and by doing so won our salvation. The life of faith is a call to forget “self” and serve God and others. Ironically, those who forget self are the most self-fulfilled!