Voddie Baucham: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil



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To become a Christian is to be enlisted in a war, one that is fought on three main fronts. In this session, Rev. Voddie Baucham will remind us how the world, the flesh, and the devil work against the kingdom of God. He will explain why battle, struggle, and hardship should not surprise us as Christians.

This message is from our 2014 National Conference, Overcoming the World:

Purchase this conference on DVD:

Well, good evening. Oh, come on now. I bring you greeting from the Republic of
Texas. And it is indeed an honor and a privilege
for me to be here on this evening. I—as I said earlier, didn't grow up in church,
but beyond that, none of my training was really from a Reformed perspective. I was asked, even earlier today, how I came
to an understanding of the Reformed faith or a Reformed understanding of biblical truth. It was really something that I just realized. I never had a professor who was Reformed or
even Calvinistic. Never served at a church that was Reformed
or even Calvinistic. It was really a matter of reading the Scriptures
and coming to understand these things, and then just grabbing a hold of some old dead
guys. And I realized that there was a consistent
pattern that the ones who said things, at least as far as I was concerned, were of the
greatest impact, the most lasting impact, were people who were writing from the same
perspective. And then I found out that it wasn't just these
old dead guys. There was some living ones. Like this R.C. Sproul guy. To whom I began to listen. And who helped me, and ministered to me in
a time when I was not anywhere near a Reformed church. Anywhere near Reformed training. It was like a cold drink of water to be able
to listen to "Renewing Your Mind." Some of you know exactly what I'm talking
about. And so, I'm grateful and humbled to be here,
to be standing here this evening. Grateful and humbled to be able to sit up
on the panel with these gentlemen and watch them cut up. My assignment tonight is to address the topic
of "The World, the Flesh and the Devil." And, I'm going to do that from the first paragraph
here in Ephesians, chapter 2, where we see all three of those things interacting with
individuals. As we do this, and as I look at this, I'm
reminded of a conversation that I had a few weeks ago. I was leading a group in Israel and I met
an Israeli guide. He wasn't our guide. But I met an Israeli guide. Our guide was a believer, and though we didn't
see things exactly the same way, he was a brother in the Lord. This was a secular Jew who really was kind
of new age more than anything else. And as we begin to talk, he realized that
I understood something about Judaism, understood something about the Old Testament, and he
said, "You know, there's just something that somebody's going to have to explain to me. This whole Trinity thing." And so, we sat there, I don't know, for the
next fifteen minutes, just talking about the doctrine of the Trinity. And after a while, he just sort of shook his
head and smiled real big, and told me how much he appreciated it, because he had talked
to many Christians and been involved with many Christian groups, and the most he'd ever
gotten when he said, "Somebody's going to have to explain this Trinity thing to me,"
was, "Well, you just got to believe it." That's kind of where we come to, and it's
unfortunate because not only do we not even try to grasp or understand or explain the
doctrine of the Trinity, but we don't even think in Trinitarian terms. And because we don't think in Trinitarian
terms, our faith sort of becomes lopsided. And so, we'll either be those who emphasize
one person of the Trinity or another, and not understand the interrelated nature of
the persons of the Trinity. The oneness of the Godhead and the beauty
of the oneness of the Godhead, and the richness that it brings to our understanding of our
faith. Well, as I thought about this issue of the
world, the flesh and the Devil, I realized that just like we tend to be lopsided when
it comes to the Trinitarian nature of our faith, we also tend to be lopsided in terms
of our understanding of these three influences. Some of us view the world as the only problem
or the main problem. And, as a result of that, we think that our
greatest need is to somehow just get away from the world. We have this kind of Amish mentality. If we just don't touch the things of the world,
if we just don't wear clothes like the world and drive the cars like the world and use
the appliances of the world, that somehow that will make us safe, and then we are left
with the flesh and the Devil. Not to mention the fact that just because
you use something that's not from the world today—How many of you all realize that the
stuff that you use from the world yesterday was still from the world? So, I won't use a car, but I'll use a buggy,
because back in the days of the buggy that wasn't the world. Then there are others. We just concentrate on the Devil, and everything's
the Devil. Flip Wilson theology. The Devil made me do it. Right? And all we do is we look for the Devil everywhere,
or as we'd say in Texas, "Look for the Devil e'erwhere." That's beyond everywhere. OK? It's the Devil. It's always the Devil. It's the Devil that made you do this. It's the Devil. It's the Devil. It's the Devil. And there we are left with the world and the
flesh. And then there's others. And we think that the only problem is our
flesh, and that brings with it its own set of difficulties. But there is a broader problem with a lack
of understanding of these three things and how they work together. And the broader problem is this: unless we
understand this interplay between the world and the flesh and the Devil, we do not understand
the sinfulness of our sin. We do not understand the radical nature of
our depravity, unless we understand that we are hemmed in on every side. That it's not just one issue, but it's everything
around us and everything about us. And there are many of us who have lost an
understanding of the radical nature of our sinfulness. And, as a result, we've lost an understanding
of the radical nature of the sinfulness of those around us, as well. And so, this impacts and effects even our
approach to evangelism and our approach to apologetics. If their problem is just the world, then I
just need to get them away from the world. If their problem is just the Devil, I just
need to get them to be aware of the Devil. If their problem is just the flesh, then I
just need to get them to change some habits, but if they're hemmed in on every side. This also effects our understanding of the
radical nature of our redemption. We don't have a full orbed picture of what
it means to be saved. What we're saved from. Whom and what we're saved by. And so, on both ends of that spectrum, it's
important for us to grasp these truths. So, if you will, join me here in Ephesians
chapter 2, and let's look there at those first ten verses. "And you were dead"—I just like to pause
there. It's amazing how complicated people make that
in order to fit their theological systems. For some people that means sick. For some people that means you were terminally
ill. Really, really, really ill. For some it means you were sinking in the
ocean and about to drown, but my Bible says you were dead. "You were dead in the trespasses and sins
in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the
power of the air." So, there's the world, there's the Devil. "The spirit that is now at work in the sons
of disobedience, among whom we all lived in the passions of our flesh." There's the third one. "Carrying out the desires of the body and
the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind, but God"—I like
to pause there, too. "Being rich in mercy, because of the great
love with which He loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together
with Christ by grace you have been saved and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him
in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the
immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith
and this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God, not as a result of
works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Amen. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. That's one of those passages you can just
read and sit down, but I won't. In order to grasp this, I want to give you
a couple of tools that will be helpful. First, I want to help you understand this
letter. This letter that's divided in half. Divided between the first half, where we look
at orthodoxy and the second half where we look at orthopraxy. The first half where we look at our calling
and the second half where we look at our conduct. The first half where we look at indicatives
and the second half where we look at imperatives. Divided right down the middle, and in order
for us to know that this division has occurred, at the end of chapter 3, we have a doxology
and at the beginning of chapter 4, we have a "Therefore Clause." We've ended one thing and we've begun another. And then this first half of the book it is
filled with these indicatives. It is filled with this picture of what God
has done on our behalf through Christ and His person and work. And then when we get into the second half
and we get into these imperatives, the indicatives don't just go away, they're still there. And so, we have these imperatives. We have things to which we are called, but
we are called to them in the light of and a direct result of that which Christ has accomplished
on our behalf to the Father's glory through the cross. And so, we are called to these things and
our desire to do these things and our ability to do these things is connected inexorably
to those indicatives in the first half of the letter. So, it is imperative that we grasp and that
we understand these indicatives in the first half. And right in the middle of all of these indicatives
in the first half, we have our paragraph, but before we get back to that, let me show
you something about these indicatives in the first three chapters. The first three chapters all have their own
sort of crescendo. And they all come to a close with what I like
to call the arch-indicatives of Ephesians. I believe there are three main indicatives
in these first three chapters that are the key to unlocking this book, as a whole. And they are as follows: Look with me at the
endings of each of these chapters. Look at the end of chapter 1. Beginning at verse 22. "And He put all things under His feet and
gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who
fills all in all." That first arch-indicative is Christ's headship
over His body. This letter is replete with references to
Christ's headship over His body. And even when we get into the second half
and we have, for example, imperatives related to marriage, the imperative for the husband
and the imperative for the wife is rooted and grounded in this idea of Christ's headship
over His body that we learned here in the first chapter. At the end of the second half, we have another. Look there at the end of that. Beginning in verse 19, "So then you are no
longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the
household of God built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus, Himself, being the cornerstone
in whom the whole structure being joined together grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into
a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." So, we have Christ's headship over His body. Now we have unity in Christ's body. The second, sort of, arch-indicative here. And just to give you an example of how crucial
it is to understand these indicatives when you understand the imperatives, there's an
imperative there, in Ephesians chapter 5 that gives a lot of us fits. And it's in verse 30: "Do not grieve the Holy
Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." I've heard so many explanations what it means
to grieve the Holy Spirit. So many. However, the key is found in what we just
read. First of all, go back to verse 28. "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace
to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God." According to the end of chapter 2, who's building
us up as a body? The Holy Spirit. Therefore, grieving the Spirit in this context
is speaking corrosive words that tear down members of the body whom the Spirit is building
together in unity. Well, understand the imperatives, understand
the indicatives. So, Christ's headship over His body and then
unity in Christ's body. And then there's the third. The last one. Look at chapter 3. This one builds to a crescendo when he ends
the first half. "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly
than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory
in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever. Amen." There's the glory that the body gives to its
head. So, we have Christ's headship over His body. We have unity in Christ's body, and then we
have the glory that the body gives to its head. What's the significance of this in light of
what we read in this first paragraph in chapter 2? Here's the significance: What we're supposed
to see is Christ's headship over His body, but in chapter 2, we see that man, apart from
Christ, is under the wrong headship. We're under the headship of the prince of
the power of the air. What we're supposed to see is unity in Christ's
body, but instead what we see in that first paragraph is that men are enemies of God. Enemies of Christ. We're supposed to see that glory that the
body gives to its head, but instead what we see is man because of his flesh, because of
his body, because of his mind, pursuing his own glory and his own appetites, as opposed
to the glory of God in Christ. We have a problem and it is significant. Our problem is not that we're simply raised
the wrong way. Our problem is not that we haven't seen good
enough examples. Our problem is not that we haven't tried hard
enough. Our problem is that we are hemmed in on every
side, and because of that our desires are warped. Listen to this from Luther: "A man without
the Spirit of God does not do evil against his will under pressure, as though he were
taken by the scruff of the neck and dragged into it like a thief being dragged off against
his will to punishment, but he does it spontaneously and voluntarily. And this willingness of volition is something,
which he cannot in his own strength, eliminate, restrain or alter. He goes on willing and desiring to do evil
and if external pressure forces him to act otherwise, nevertheless, his will within remains
averse to so doing and chafes under such constraint and opposition." This is who we are. This is the radical nature of our depravity. Let's look at these things in turn. First, the world. Following the course of this world. And we know that word "world" is used a number
of different ways in the New Testament. It's used a number of different ways in Pauline
literature. Paul uses it sometimes to refer to the entire
created order, the world, the cosmos. Sometimes he used it to refer to all mankind. At other times, he uses it to refer, specifically,
to Jews and Gentiles, alike. But other times this word is used to refer
to that which is against God, to that which is opposed to God. For example, in Romans chapter 12, verse 1:
"Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world." Do not be pressed into the mold of this world. There is the idea of this world and the world
to come. This age and the age to come. The idea of those things that are opposed
to God. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He
didn't use this world, but He used this idea. What do we pray? Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth
as it is in heaven." That's what He calls us to pray. Why does He call us to pray that? Because this world is opposed to Him and opposed
to His will. This is important to understand. It's all we know. It's what we're born into. It's like Aristotle's ancient question: Does
a fish know that he's wet? The answer is: not until you take him out
of the water. It's what we're born in. And it's all we know. So, when you are apart from Christ, again
it's not just that you have bad habits. You're part of a world. You're part of a system that is opposed to
God at every turn. However, it is subtle in that this world doesn't
show open opposition to God. That would be too obvious. Instead, there are these subtle adjustments
here and there. It's like the air we breathe. It's like the Matrix. And it's all we know. Next there is the idea of the Devil. Not only are we in this world, not only are
we in this system, that is opposed to God, not only are we fully pressed into the mold
of this system that is fully opposed to God, but there is also this influence following
the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. So, first of all, there is this system that
is set up. This world to which we belong. These lenses over our eyes. This picture of reality that's painted for
us. These things that are assumed because they
are all we've ever known. And, in addition to those things, as if that
were not enough, there is actually the Devil. There is actually evil spiritual forces. There is actually demonic world, a demonic
realm, and we can get in trouble in two ways here. There's a ditch on both sides of the road. We can overestimate the influence of the Devil
or we can underestimate the influence of the Devil. The fact of the matter is, the Scripture's
clear. We were under his influence, so we have this
world, this system that is teaching us what to believe and what to think. What is right and what is wrong. What is true and what is false. And then we have the spiritual reality of
the Devil, himself. This spiritual reality of demonic forces. This spiritual reality that is influencing
us and that is actively working against us. That is actively working to keep us blind. Actively working to keep us satisfied with
the world and not aware of or desiring anything other than that. Lest you think you're just innocent in all
this, "Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires
of the body and of the mind, and were by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." There're two important things here. He brings this full circle when he refers
to the rest of mankind. He's making a point there. The point there goes back to the world. And it is not as though the world is just
sort of here in pockets here and there. It's the rest of mankind. And the people who are not under this influence
are in the minority. There's a broad gate and there is a narrow
gate, but before he says this, he makes reference to our flesh, to our own desires, to our bodies
and our minds and what our bodies and our minds want. So here is why the world and the Devil are
so powerful because they give us exactly what we want. That's who we are. We're not individuals who would otherwise
pursue God, if the Devil would just leave us alone. Far from it. Since the fall, with the first Adam as our
federal head. We are averse to all good things. Listen to the way the confessions put it. Both Westminster and London. "From this original corruption, whereby we
are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposed to all good, and wholly inclined to
all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions." Our sins come from our sin nature. It's who we are. It's what we want. It's what we desire. So, don't think of it as though we come into
this world and we're innocent and we're really looking for a way to find God, and a way to
please God, but all of a sudden, this world says, "No, don't do that." And the Devil says, "No, don't do that." Actually, no. That's not radical enough. That's not sinful enough. That's not who you were. Here's who you were before you came to Christ:
you came with fleshly desires that were against God. You came with desires of your body and your
mind that were alienated to God. You came with desires that were evil. And the Devil and the world did not have to
seek you out. You rested in them because they gave you exactly
what you wanted. The Devil knows your name and you know his
voice. You were convinced that he loved you as much
you loved him. The world's a comfortable place to you. It was all that you wanted, and that is because
your very nature craved it. This is why the doctrine of original sin is
so important. If we don't understand the doctrine of original
sin, then we don't get this. We don't understand the sinfulness of our
sin because somehow, we think that we're innocent, and our environment just somehow made us go
all wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who don't believe in original sin don't
have children. Amen, somebody. I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's not a little angel, that's a viper in
a diaper. You come into this world, you can barely open
your eyes. For months you can barely hold up your head. "You have to hold—grab his head now." You can't sit up. You can't talk. You can't crawl. You can't walk. But you can let everybody know that you're
running things. The angry cry happens early. The demanding cry happens early. The stiffening up of the body, that happens
early. "He's so cute." "No, that ain't cute." One of the reasons God makes them so small
is so that they won't kill you. One of the reasons He makes them so cute,
is so that you won't kill them. We are sinners. See, we don't understand this. That's why we have no urgency about sharing
the gospel with the nice old lady down the street. Because, after all, she's just a nice old
lady. We don't get this. That's why we stand up at funerals and say
that people who never wanted to be with God on this earth are in a better place spending
eternity with the one they didn't want to be with here. Because we don't get this. We don't understand this. And because we don't understand this, we don't
understand how desperate we are for a radical redemption. Actually, because we don't understand this,
we don't think we need to be saved. We actually just think we need to be helped. We don't think we need good news, we think
we need good advice. We don't need the Gospel, we just need ten
ways to have a happy life and five ways to reduce stress, because that's our problem. We don't believe this, and this is why we
say—we hear preachers say it all the time. There's a guy down my way, down in Houston,
Smiling Joel. Smiling Joel says, "Sinners don't need to
be told they're sinners. They know they're sinners." "No, they don't. They don't. They don't." They look at the guy on the news who hacked
somebody up and they say, "That's a sinner. Not me." They don't sin. They make mistakes. You sin, but they don't. They make bad choices. They have bad patches. They have bad habits, but they're not sinners. They're not individuals who pursue their own
fleshly desires at the expense of everyone and anything else, unless they can be helped
in their fleshly desires. They're not sinners who are under the influence
of this world because this world is giving them exactly what they want, which is not
God. They're not sinners who are under the influence
of the prince of the power of the air because they love the prince of the power of the air. They're just people who sometimes make mistakes. But the Bible says that they're children of
wrath. And so were we. If you understand that you're a child of wrath,
you understand that you don't need good advice, you need good news. Because there is no good news in this. This is all bad. There's no hope whatsoever. I'm dead. And I'm under the influence of this world
that opposes God and the prince of the power of the air who opposes God. And what's worse, my flesh, my body, my mind
they like it and they want it and they don't want God. And I'm an enemy of God and I deserve God's
wrath. By the way, here's a footnote. In case you were wondering, because so many
people miss this one. I love to ask people, "You know, even if you
know you need to be saved, do you know what you need to be saved from?" God. Amen. You need to be saved from the wrath of God. This holy and righteous and just God. That's why we find verse 4. "But God, being rich in mercy because of the
great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ, by grace you've been saved." There's no room there. There's no room there. There's nothing God saw in you. It's just not there. There's nothing in you that rose up above
the rest. It's just not there. The answer is, "But God; you're dead." I don't care how many times you've heard the
illustration, "You're sinking. You're drowning. You're about to go down for the last time
and God throws you a life preserver, but you got to grab it." Dead men don't grab. You are a rotting corpse. You are not almost dead. You are not nearly dead. But you're dead, which means that the only
hope is the grace of God, but watch what happens. You were dead and now you get life. God made us alive together with Christ. You were dead, but now you're alive together
with Christ. This is important. This is the doctrine of regeneration. This is God making us alive. This is God making us born again. And no matter how many times we hear out there
in popular evangelicalism that we sort of born ourselves again, you can no more born
yourself again that you born yourself the first time. Being born again is an act of God. Being born again is a supernatural act. Being born again is something that you don't
ask for, you don't have sense enough to ask for, you're dead. God does this. And it's by His grace that He does this. And it's for His glory that He does this. It is because of Christ that He does this. It is by grace alone. We don't like this. Go to our Catholic friends. Listen to this. The Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 9:
"If anyone says that by faith alone the sinner is justified so as to mean that nothing else
is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, let him be anathema." Again, Session 6, Canon 11: "If anyone says
that men are justified either by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ alone or by
the remission of sins alone, to the exclusion of the grace and love that is poured forth
in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and is inherent in them or even that the grace by
which we are justified is only the favor of God, let him be an anathema." And finally, "If anyone says that the guilt
is remitted to every penitent sinner after the grace of justification has been received
and that the debt of eternal punishment is so blotted out that there remains no debt
of temporal punishment to be discharged, either in this world or in the next, in purgatory
before the entrance into the kingdom of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema. They do not preach the same gospel. But that's also what most evangelicals today
believe. And we believe it because we do not understand
the radical nature of our depravity. We do not understand that we're hemmed in
on every side. We do not understand that our nature is averse
to God. We do not understand that the world and the
Devil are partnering with us as we willingly pursue them, as opposed to God. We don't get that. We think that somehow, we just need a little
help. From dead to alive, from the course of this
world to heavenly places. Verse 6: "And raised us up with Him and seated
us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." This is important throughout Ephesians. In chapter 1, verse 3: "Blessed be the God
and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual
blessing in the heavenly places." Verse 20 to 21: "He raised Him from the dead
and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly places. Far above all rule and authority and power
and dominion and above every name that is named." Chapter 3, verse 10: "So that though the church,
the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the
heavenly places." He's blessed us in the heavenly places. He has seated us in the heavenly places. Christ rules and reigns in the heavenly places. The church brings glory and manifests God's
glory in the heavenly places. So, who among us thinks that Ephesians chapter
6 in verse 12 is designed to make us fear the heavenly places? "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present
darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." It's interesting. We're wrestling against spiritual forces that
are in the heavenly places. Somebody else is in the heavenly places. Christ. That's where He is. That's where He rules and reigns. That's where we are seated with Him. That's where the church brings Him glory. Chapter 6 is not made—or it's not written
to make us fear the Devil, but to give us faith because of the One who rules and reigns
in that realm. From dead to alive. From the course of this world to heavenly
places. From the prince of the power of the air to
the Prince of Peace. How many times have we read, "In Christ,"
"with Christ"? We are in Christ. We are in Him and He is in us. No longer under the rule of the prince of
the power of the air, but under the rule of the Prince of Peace. From gratifying our own desires to bringing
glory to God. Look at verses 8 to 10: "For by grace you
have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing. It is a gift of God, not a result of works,
so that no one may boast. For we are God's workmanship created in Christ
Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Notice that there is a complete reversal of
our previous condition. We were dead. Now we're alive in Christ. We were following the pattern of this world,
now we're seated in the heavenly places with Christ. We were under the influence of the prince
of the power of the air, but now we are in Christ. We were gratifying our desires. The desires of our body. The desires of our minds, and yet, now we
have been recreated. We are God's workmanship and there is work
that God has for us to do that brings Him glory in the heavenly places. Now, we understand the nature of our salvation,
but it's only when we understand the radical nature of our depravity. You understand the radical to your depravity,
you understand your need for salvation. You understand the radical nature of your
depravity, you understand what has to be the mechanism for your salvation. God's got to do that. You can't do that. You understand the radical nature of your
depravity, you understand the magnitude of your salvation. You understand what you've been saved from,
and it also gives you a picture of the magnitude and the glory of Christ, who is the One whose
person and work has purchased us for God. And you also understand the need for us to
preach the gospel. People don't need good advice, they need good
news. You didn't need good advice. You needed good news. Yeah, but what about the rest of that stuff? It covers it in the last three chapters. We get this incredibly practical application
of the truths in the first three chapters. All throughout the second half. And it's so that we understand one thing:
that in Christ we have all that we need. And yet, in chapter 6 we come back to the
infamous spiritual warfare passage. Why? Don't miss this. I was dead and I was living according to the
pattern of this world. I was under the influence of the prince of
the power of the air, and I loved it. I loved it because it was right in line with
what my flesh desired. With what my body desired. With what my mind desired. It was all I knew. I was completely wrapped up in it. In fact, when I heard about Christianity,
one of the responses to Christianity, and this is all of us. How do people respond to Christianity? You hear about Christianity and you chafe
against the idea of rules. You chafe against the idea of your fun and
your freedom being taken away. But why do you think we do that. Because that's what the world and the prince
of the power of the air says to you. The prince of the power of the air says, "Hey,
your flesh is really satisfied right now." Actually, it's not, which is why you got to
continue to pursue more and more and more and more and more, but that's a whole other
sermon. But your flesh is satisfied right now. You get to go pursue what you want, when you
want, the way you want it. That stuff over there, they're telling you
can't have that anymore. You don't want that. Your flesh is going, "Yeah. That's bad." But God, being rich in mercy, because of the
great love with which He loved us, He opens our eyes and we see ourselves, and we see
the world, and we see the Devil. We recognize the fact that we are enemies
of God and objects of His wrath and He saves us. And it is glorious. And we're grateful and this is still all we
know, which is why we need those ordinary means of grace. Which is why we need the body of Christ. Let me ask you something. The question came earlier, the person who
says, "I'm a Christian, but I don't need the church." Here's what that person is saying: that person
is saying, "I've lived in this world, my flesh is delighted in this world. I've been under the prince of the power of
the air. I love Him and I believe that He loved me
and it was the only thing that I knew and I pursued it with every fiber of my being. Now, my eyes have been opened and I see this,
and I'm saved, and I'm grateful, but I'll be OK staying right here among the rest of
those who are objects of wrath. I don't need to be conformed or be transformed
by the renewing of my mind. I'll just stay here and continue to be conformed
to this pattern and I'll be OK. Or, if I don't think I'll be OK, I think I
can, in and of myself, with a mind that has been completely warped for my entire life,
figure out how to be more like Christ all by myself. Right here in this same place where He found
me." Folks, as we say where I come from, "That
dog won't hunt." This is why we have desperate need of the
ordinary means of grace. This is why we need to read the Scriptures. You don't know what you don't know. You don't know how messed up you are. You really don't. And I have people ask me sometime, you know,
they ask me, you know, "You know, you. The way you grew up and where you grew up
and what you experienced and what you went through, and you turned out OK." "You know what? First of all, I'm not OK." "Secondly, if you think I am, it's cause you're
not OK." I am reminded every day of how much I need
to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Everyday. You know what I love? I love old, bent over, slow walking, grey-headed,
walking with Jesus for a long-time saints, who look at you in their own way, and smile
and tell you about what they just learned. That just blesses me. I look at a person who's eighty, eighty-five,
ninety years old and they're still learning. God is still opening up His truth to them. And I look from this side and say, "Do you
realize how much more there is to gain." Which mean, I'm not there. Because if I'm not careful, I can still be
comfortable in the world. If I'm not careful, I can still run and gratify
my flesh. If I'm not careful, I still can have an ear
tuned to the prince of the power of the air. If I'm not vigilant. So, I love those ordinary means of grace. Prayer, Scriptures, preaching of the Word. The ordinances. The fellowship of the saints. Singing those great songs of faith and having
them ring in my ears and remind me again and again and again of those things that I am
so apt to forget. You see, understanding this radical depravity
of ours not only gives us a sensitivity towards those who are lost, not only helps us to understand
the magnitude of our salvation, but it also reminds us that we are still in desperate
need because the world and the flesh and the Devil are still there. Being mortified. Amen? But still there. We still have this treasure in clay vessels. We still have weaknesses. We still need to be vigilant. And we still need to be wary of the world,
the flesh and the Devil, but never afraid. Why? Because I'm not dead anymore. I'm alive. Not afraid. Why? Because I have dual citizenship now. Not afraid. Why? Because I belong to the Prince of Peace and
not to the prince of the power of the air. I'm not afraid. Why? Because even my flesh is being redeemed. Not there, yet. Better today than yesterday. And better tomorrow than today. By God's grace and with His help. Let's pray. Father, we confess to You our great need. We confess to You that because of the world
and the flesh and the Devil that we war constantly. We confess to You that we still remember the
pattern. That we still remember the voice. And that we still struggle with the desires. And yet, we confess to You that we know that
is not who we are because we've been made alive together with Christ. Because we've been seated with Him in the
heavenly places. Because our allegiance has changed from the
prince of the power of the air to the Prince of Peace. And because our bodies are now temples of
the Holy Spirit. Grant, by Your grace, that Christ would be
formed in us. Grant by Your grace that the work of sanctification
would continue in us. Grant by Your grace that the desire for the
things of God would increase in us. Grant by your grace that our disdain for sin,
our disdain for the world, our disdain for the prince of the power of the air, our disdain
for our own sinful, fleshly desires would increase in us, that our sin would be mortified
and that Christ would be glorified. And that, as a result, we would worship Him,
and that as a result, we would speak of Him, for how dare we be freed from such an awful
condition and leave others to linger therein. This is our prayer. This is the earnest desire of our souls, and
we ask it because we believe it's in accordance with the will and the nature and the authority
of Jesus, who is the Christ, our Lord, Master, Savior, Redeemer and Friend. Amen.