The Goal of the Godly

Scripture: Matthew 26:31-75, Acts 5:29, Psalm 119:165
Date: 11/12/2021 
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Our study tonight is going to deal a lot with the subject of not being manipulated, not being controlled by the crowd. If you're going to be saved, you need to have a one-on-one relationship with Jesus where you're not following the mob, because it's often true that the mob is going the wrong direction. Even Jesus, when He walked the earth, was it the majority or the minority that believed Him? And that's often the way you're going to see it happening. In the days of Noah, was it the majority or the minority that got on the ark? So you need to think for yourself, how do you know what's right? It must be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. And our presentation tonight is dealing with the subject of the goal of the godly.

Now, one of my heroes in the Bible is the Apostle Peter, and you'll find one story in particular here in Matthew 26:31-75. And I suppose I identify with Peter because Peter was very gregarious and sometimes bombastic and outspoken, and he would have his, his mouth was going, but his brain was engaged, I might say. And Peter always had something to say on almost every occasion. He was very willing to share his opinion. And he was concerned often with what others thought about him.

Some of you remember the story where the disciples were out rowing by themselves in the middle of the Sea of Galilee one night and they couldn't make any progress and they were afraid and the wind was swamping the boat. And then they saw this apparition out on the water, walking. And they cried out in fear. They thought it was a spirit. And Jesus said, don't be afraid. It's me. And Peter of the other 12 apostles was the one who actually had the idea of saying, Lord, if it's you, let me walk to you on the water. No one else had the gumption to think of something like that. And Jesus was pleased. He said, well then come.

So Peter gets out of the boat and he starts walking towards Jesus on the water, and he's feeling pretty good. He's got his eyes on Christ and he feels something firm under his feet, and this has never happened before. He's worked around the sea his whole life. And then he got it in his head there's probably nobody in the world that has ever walked on water before besides Jesus and I, I wonder if the guys are getting this on their iPhones. And he turned around to see if, he's wanting to go, hey guys, you getting this? Are you getting this? And when he took his eyes off Jesus, then he put his eyes on the storm and he saw all the wind and the waves and his faith began to sink and he began to sink. And just before he went down, he uttered the shortest prayer in the Bible. "Lord save me." And Jesus immediately took him up and said, why did you doubt?

By the way, in the Christian life, it's impossible to live a godly life without a miracle. But that miracle is keeping your eyes on Jesus. You can walk in a different way in this world if you have your eyes on Christ. If you take your eyes off Christ, you can't do it. Hebrews tells us in chapter 12, let us therefore lay aside every sin and the weight that does so easily beset us and let us run with endurance the race that is before us, fixing our eyes, setting our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

This is the way that we run the race. We must fix our eyes on Christ, and you can do the impossible. But Peter was always concerned what the others were thinking and what the others were watching. You know, they're at the Last Supper, when Jesus said this night you're going to forsake Me, Peter jumps up and pounds on his chest and says, though all of these might forsake You, I will never forsake You. And Jesus needed to help Peter learn a lesson in humility. He said, now Peter, before the rooster crows twice, you're going to deny Me three times. Oh no, I'd never do that. And the others said the same thing.

Well, you know the story. Jesus was betrayed. He's being tried. And during the trial, Peter followed from a distance, and they're taking Jesus to the judgment hall, Peter followed from a distance. Why was he following from a distance? He was worried about what the crowd might think. So he kept his distance. There's a lot of Christians in the world out there. They follow Jesus from a distance. They don't want to get too close. And when Jesus went into the judgment hall, the Bible says John the Apostle went in with him, but Peter stayed out and he kind of, he tried to hang around and act like the other servants of the high priest and the court officials in there, but he didn't want it to be known that he was an apostle. But in the flickering of the fire that was keeping him warm, someone recognized him and they said, aren't you one of his followers? The one in there that's been arrested, that this false prophet that they're mocking inside?

Now Peter has a different audience and he changes his behavior pretty quickly. It's amazing, because you go back, you know, half an hour earlier when they came to arrest Jesus, and he was surrounded by his buddies, he pulls out a sword to fight for Christ. Now all of them are gone. He's by himself. He starts to morph back into the crowd. He says, I don't know who Jesus is. And they asked him again, He denied it again. And then they asked it and with swearing and cursing he said again, he denied it, and with an oath he said, "I do not know the man!" And right at that moment the rooster crowed, he looked inside the judgment hall, Jesus turned and looked at him and it broke his heart. It just came back to his mind that God had said night will not be over until you deny me three times. And it says he went out and he wept bitterly. Peter was a broken man after that. He was dramatically converted.

You know it's interesting to note that Peter, when Jesus rose from the dead, he told Mary, go tell the disciples and Peter. Why did he say that? Because Peter was thinking that maybe he had gone too far. And Jesus said, no I haven't. I know that you're sorry. Go tell the disciples and Peter. But you know, after that experience, Peter was thoroughly converted, and the Bible tells us that when he was being tried for his faith, he boldly stood up and he said, "We ought to obey God rather than men." From then on, Peter was not going to be intimidated. So we need to have that kind of courage, because in the last days everybody's going to feel incredible pressure from every corner, sometimes even within the family, to compromise your faith and not to follow the Bible. So I want to encourage everybody, follow Christ, not the crowd. Amen?

So it's with that kind of background, let's go into our question for tonight. Number one, how does God determine whether or not we are on His side? "Not everyone who says my to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven," but he who what? Doeth. "Who does the will of My Father in heaven." It's not just hearing the will of God, it's doing the will of God. Jesus said the wise man is the one who builds his house on the rock. The fool builds his house on the sand. And Jesus goes on to describe He that hears these words of mine and does them. It's so simple. James says, be not a hearer of the word only and not a doer of the word. There's a lot of people out there, they'll come to church once a week and they hear the Word, but that doesn't save you. Are you willing to then do what you hear?

I heard a preacher that came to a new church assignment, and three weeks in a row he preached the same sermon. And he was a little past middle age and someone had to pull him aside and said, you need to visit a doctor. He says, you probably don't know, but you've preached the same sermon three weeks in a row. He said, yeah, I'm doing it again next week until you start listening to it. He wants us to be doers of the Word. Jesus tells a parable, the man had two sons, and he said to his sons, go work in my field. And one said, I'm not going, Dad. But he later repented and he went. The other son said, I'm on my way, but he didn't go. And Jesus said, which of the two did the will of the father? And they said, well, the one that said I'm not going, but he repented. And Jesus said, you know, the scribes and Pharisees, they're all going Lord, Lord, but they're not doing my will. But the tax collectors and the harlots, they're repenting of their sins and they're willing to follow and make these practical changes in their lives.

So God is very clear. It's not everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord, but he that does the will of my Father in heaven. If you really love him, if you really believe, He wants us to be doers of the Word. Another verse on that, Romans 6:16. "Do you not know that whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are the servants of the one you obey. Whether of sin leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness." In other words, if you say I'm a Christian and you're saying, Lord, Lord, but every day you're really living for the devil, you can't really say you're a Christian because you are the servant of another master. The Lord wants us to be on His side.

Number two. When the commands of God and men conflict, whom did Peter say we should obey? We just read this a moment ago, Acts 5:29. Peter and the other apostles are being tried for their faith. They're before the Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin of the Jewish nation. They're commanding them not to preach in the name of Jesus anymore. What would you do in a situation like that? They're telling you how to preach and how to witness. By the way, that could happen in our country. You know, there's parts of the world that I've been to where I used to be able to preach freely and now there are certain subjects you're not allowed to preach, even though they're Bible topics in some countries. So what do you do? "We ought to obey God rather than men."

Is there going to be a command in the last days telling us to worship contrary to the Word of God? What will you do? Will you follow the crowd? Or will you say we ought to obey God rather than men? Why did Daniel survive the lions den? Because he made up his mind to obey God instead of the king of Persia. And Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, the three Hebrews, how did they survive the fiery furnace? There was a law that they were supposed to bow to the image of Babylon and they wouldn't bow to it because they decided we ought to obey God rather than men.

We're going to have the same issue in the last days, friends. That's why this lesson is so important. That we are determined that the Word of God and following Christ is absolute, no matter what it costs. That's the only safe thing to do. If you only follow God when it's convenient, then the devil will see to it it's never convenient. If you're waiting, and I used to do this, I'd be struggling with cigarettes and I kept thinking, when would be a good time to quit? I'll wait until this stress is gone or that stress is gone. If I quit now I might gain too much weight. I had all these excuses. That actually wasn't my excuse, but I've heard it used a lot. I had all these excuses waiting for it to be the perfect time. And you know, the devil arranged my life so it never was the perfect time. I had to just make up my mind, perfect or not perfect. No matter what the struggle is, this is what God wants me to do, and I did it.

How do we best demonstrate our love for God? John 8:31. "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." Abiding in the Word of God means that you're rooted in the Word of God, that you're feeding it, you're gathering sap from it. And you know, if you're separated for very long, you don't get that nourishment and you shrivel up. We need to be drawing from the sap of God's Word every day. And we've had some people that have written in. They said, you know, I struggle reading. That's okay. Some people do. Today, praise the Lord. You can listen to tapes, you can listen on your phone, there's all these streaming devices. There are websites you can go to and click on any verse in the Bible that'll just start reading to you. And listen to good inspirational sermons. Listen to Christian music. But you need to be feeding your soul good food all the time.

Jesus said, if you love me, do what? "He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." I was doing a Bible study one day, and friend I was studying with, he says, Doug, you're being legalistic. He said, we don't need to keep His commandments. He said, I'm a Christian and I'm being led by the Spirit. And this was very early in my Christian experience, and I thought, this isn't right. And I opened my Bible and my eyes fell on this verse, and I hadn't remembered ever reading it before and I read that to him and he was just thunderstruck. He was dumbfounded by that. It's so simple. You say I know Him and you don't keep His commandments, you're a liar. "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he's guilty of all."

So if you know, if we say, well look, you cheat on your wife and you say, but I'm keeping the other nine commandments, that's not going to work. I can tell you right now. That one's going to make a big difference. The whole relationship's going to be broken. Would you agree? And some people will say, well, doesn't God give us at least like a 10% discount? I mean can't we keep all of them except like the fourth commandment that says remember? No, they're not optional, they're not 10 recommendations. Someone said the 10 commandments are not multiple choice. They're all 10. They're not the 10 suggestions. God wants us to obey them and He's God. If there's anybody that has a right to tell us how we should live, who would that be?

- [Parishioner] God.

- Creator and our Redeemer. The one who made us and then died to save us again. Don't go anywhere, friends. In just a moment will return for the rest of today's presentation. What if you had an extraordinary friend? Always dependable, consistently inspiring you to noble actions, bringing out your best character traits and loving you no matter what? Someone who would be with you throughout your entire life. Well, according to the Bible, you can find that friend in Jesus.

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According to Jesus, why did the hypocrites act religious? You know, in the teachings of Christ, the first thing that Jesus hit with both hands, He said, you pray, you fast, you give. That's all good. But He said to the religious leaders, you're praying to be seen of men. Praying long prayers while you devour widow's houses. He says you fast and then you try to, you know, beat yourself up and drag around and let everyone know you're fasting so they'll be impressed by how you're suffering for your religion. And you give, but when you give, you blow the trumpets so everyone sees you give so you can look real generous, but at the same time you really have much more than that. Some people give, you know? You can give a hundred dollars and think, wow, that's very generous. Well, I got 10 million. It's no sacrifice for them. What was it that Jesus was condemning? It says, "That they might have glory from men." "That they might be seen by men."

This was the challenge that Peter had. He was always concerned about everybody watching. When Jesus was raising the dead, when Jesus was doing miracles, Peter wanted to be right there next to Him like His bodyguard running interference, and you know, being His administrative secretary because he thought, you know, I want to be with the one who's popular. We're good friends. Jesus and I were like that. But when Jesus was no longer popular, Peter would get into trouble. He had to get the victory over the crowd control. He struggled with crowd control. Is it generally safe to follow the crowd? What does the Bible say? "You shall not follow a crowd to do evil."

Now, if a crowd's doing something noble and good, that's great. Sometimes I've seen crowds of people that get together and get involved in cleaning a beach or doing some good humanitarian thing, and it's great. But we're talking about in the context of the last days. It's typically the multitude that goes the wrong way. On Mount Carmel there was a brave prophet named Elijah. Elijah against 800 false prophets, 400 prophets of Baal and 450 prophets of Asherah. I know that adds up to 850. But you've got one Elijah. All the other prophets had kind of gone underground. You only had one that had the audacity to stand up. That's often what you see in the Bible. Like Noah in the last days. Do not follow the crowd, again, Jesus tells us. "Enter by the narrow gate; for broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go there." And you know, the heartbreaking thing is, how many people's sins did Jesus die for? The Bible says He died for all.

- [Parishioner] Amen.

- All those people He'd like to save. It's not that salvation cannot be found, but they're just preoccupied with the world. There are many who go by that. "Whereas narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are a few who find it." Pastor Doug, what do you mean difficult the way? Well let me just explain here. Life is difficult. So if you're thinking I'm looking for that which is not difficult, there is no option in this world. It is difficult for the wicked. The Bible says the way of the transgressor is hard.

So if you're wondering is it easier to be saved or lost? Let's put it this way. Would you rather be a slave in Egypt serving under hard labor, or would you rather follow the Lord through a desert on your way to the promised land? Those are your options. You can either be a hopeless slave in Egypt or you can follow the Lord where you have the presence of God. He feeds you with bread from heaven, gives you water from a rock, and an occasional quail every now and then. And you've got His presence and He's teaching you. I mean, how much better? But you know, even the people following God to the promised land got discouraged and they said I wish I was back in Egypt.

What benefits come as a result of accepting and following the truth? "Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble." You know, Peter learned those lessons of peace after he completely surrendered to the Lord. Bible tells a story in Acts chapter 12 where Peter was in prison, he's going to be executed the next day. He's chained between two soldiers, and he's sleeping like a baby. He had great peace because he knew his life was in God's hands. By the way, God delivered him from that jail and he did not die. David said even though my enemy is hunting my life, I will lay me down and sleep because God watches over me. Great peace has who? Those that love His law. If you make up your mind to do the will of God.

And by the way, I have mentioned this, but you may have missed it. The law of God is the will of God, and the will of God is the law of God. The law of God is the most simple expression of His will. They got great peace. You will know the truth and the truth will make you free. It gives you purpose, it gives you direction, it gives you a wonderful sense of serenity knowing that God is guiding you and watching over you. And I don't worry like people that don't know there's a God that loves them.

I think it was George Whitfield who said several people tried to kill him. He was a famous preacher. He'd preach in public and people would throw rocks at him and try and kill him, and he was kind of an unconventional preacher. And he said, "I am immortal until my work is done. As long as I'm serving God, nobody can hurt me." He ended up dying at home on his knees with his Bible open. And you don't have to worry. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit. God promises to give us the Spirit, and He'll purify our hearts.

Don't worry about making every change in one day. You surrender your life to Jesus, He is then given permission to work in your life. Work out your own salvation and He'll be the author and the finisher of your faith. Does following Jesus involve some struggle and self denial? It requires commitment. There's struggle involved. And there's sacrifice involved in following Jesus. And I know it's easy for us to talk about it. It's a little harder to do it sometimes.

I remember that chicken and a pig really liked the farmer because he fed them very well and they said, we need to do something nice for the farmer and let's make them breakfast. Pig said, that sounds fair. What have you got in mind? So let's make him a ham and eggs breakfast. And the pig said, well, for you it's a contribution. For me it's total commitment. When you really get down to doing it, it's serious business.

Is there self denial in following Jesus? Luke 9:23. "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross." Do you do that once? "Daily, and follow me." Every day as a Christian, it's kind of like marriage. Marriage is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Every day it's like farming. You get up and you're committed every day. Say I've loved this person, I'm going to do my best to honor and serve this person. And that's the secret also in the Christian life. It's a relationship you renew every day. And you must die to self every day. Paul said, I die daily. What do you think he's talking about? Instead of living for myself, the world, it's all about what shall I do for me? Most of the thoughts about me, me, me. And sin is S-I-N. I is in the middle of sin. It's all about this. But the secret to happiness is joy. J-O-Y. Jesus, others, then yourself. That's the equation. And you've got to make up that decision to not just die daily, but to be born again every day. Renew your commitment to Christ.

Is it safe to procrastinate or postpone a decision to follow Jesus? I heard one time that the devil had a convention, and he invited all his top demons to come. There were thousands of them there. And he said, look, we're looking for a new marketing campaign. We need something really good. I'm open to suggestions. And one demon comes up and he says, I've got it. He said, tell them there's no God. The devil says, well, we've done that before with some success, but there's so much evidence of God, we're still losing a lot of people. And another one came up and he said, tell them God doesn't love them. And the devil said, well, that often works, but, he said, even though I don't understand it, he said, there's a lot of evidence of God's goodness and love in the world and still we're not able to get people.

And one after another, these different demons came up with their brilliant marketing strategies. And Satan was listening and finally this one especially diabolical devil, he came up and he said, I know what the answer is. He said, tell them that there is a God. Tell them they should go to church. Tell them that God loves them. Tell them they should make a complete surrender. But tell them not today. And a satanic smile curled over Lucifer's face and he said, that's it. Just get them to plan on doing it all, plan on believing it all, but don't ever come to the point of making a complete surrender. And I think that hell is going to be bursting over with people who really had the best of intentions, but they never got around to it.

You know, people often die the way they live. Procrastinating day after day in making that complete surrender. Is it safe to procrastinate? "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" I heard a sermon one time where someone said, here's something that God can't answer. You think God can do everything. God can't answer how we will escape if we neglect so great a salvation. Don't neglect it, embrace it. Surrender to Him. Trust Him with your life and He will not let you down. I promise, friends.

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