Simplicity of Religion

Simplicity of Religion

Scripture: Romans 7:18
Conversion is actually a very simple process that sometimes gets burdened with lots of difficult language. One myth about being saved has to do with emotions and feelings. This broadcast explores the process of salvation and our feelings of inadequacy.
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Have you ever noticed how a flow of high-sounding words are often used in covering facts which would otherwise be simple to understand? Scientific technical jargon has often left the uninitiated in a state of utter confusion. Medical terminology staggers the laymen almost as much as a foreign language. But what about the religious world? Do we have the same problem there?

In an earlier broadcast we talked about the mysterious process of conversion, of making a U-turn in life to become a Christian. The steps are not complicated; they may be taken by a kindergarten child as well as the scientist or scholar. Behind the theological mumbo-jumbo there is a simple down-to-earth truth about being saved. Sometimes the religious language has actually made it difficult for people to be converted.

Perhaps one of the greatest myths about the experience revolves around the matter of feeling and emotion. Now I hope you won't misunderstand me when I say this but when you get religion you don't feel a great deal different than you did before you got it. You do have a determination and a mind to serve God, but you still feel the pangs of temptation. You still know you've got certain weaknesses. Many people become discouraged because of this. I would like to read to you about one whom I consider infinitely better than I, who has the same problem. His name: Saint Paul. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:18 "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me . . . I delight in the law of God after the inward man; But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 0 wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Then in verse 25 Paul answers his own question. He says, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Here Paul was describing the battle which took place in his life after being convicted by the law of God. He wanted to do the right thing, but his unconverted nature kept pulling him into sin. He was constantly being compelled, against his desire, to disobey God. But then he was converted, and received a spiritual mind. Through Jesus he was set free from the captivity of sin. He was delivered from the power of his fallen nature by the converting sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.

But notice that the battle continues. There will always be a struggle against that fallen nature, but victory is assured through the Lord Jesus Christ. The secret is to have the mind completely surrendered to the control of Christ, so that He can give orders to the body to obey. Every form of enticing sin will appeal to the fallen nature but the will must say no to it. The body can't act in disobedience unless the mind gives the orders to do it. This is why Christ must be in control of the will and brain all the time. The battle is between the converted, spiritual nature. This is where the temptation appears. The flesh is appealed to by the sights and sounds of sin, but the converted mind must say no to them.

When a man is justified and becomes a Christian, his mind is committed to God, but his flesh is still tainted with sin. His members have sin in them. Sin in the members; that's what Paul said. If he's riding along in his car and there's some evil going on that he should not look at, his eyes just automatically find that thing. There's sin in the members. He picks up the telephone and somebody's got some juicy gossip on the other end; and before he can say "No" he discovers he enjoys listening to it. Sin in the members! It's in our flesh! God never says give me your hand, or your eyes or your ears. God says, "Give me your heart." And the Bible says, "Out of the heart are the issues of life." So, if the Lord can take that mind, that heart and change it and transform it, and work with it; and as that mind deals with God in prayer, it becomes not a machine that conforms to a set of spiritual rules, it is transformed, it is made over, it is completely changed. And the mind can control the hand so that if it's snapping to the wrong kind of music, a man whose mind is controlled by the God of heaven can say to that hand, "Cut it out." And that hand has to quit! He can tell his ears to listen to the right things and the ears will stop listening to the wrong things. He can tell his eyes to only behold good and his eyes will stop searching out the evil. It is done as God lives in a man's heart. It is God working in you, not only to will but to do His good pleasure.

It reminds me of a farmer who bought a young colt for his son. The colt was about seven months old. In the meantime, he had an old mule around the farm, and when the day came to break the new colt the farmer had a good practical idea. He said, "We'd better hook that young one up with the old, and maybe the old mule will help to control that young horse, and maybe he'll learn from the old one." And it worked, but if ever you saw a strange scene it was that farmer driving that team because with one rein he had to hold back on that young spirited horse, and with the other hand he had to keep prodding the old mule to try to get him to go along.

Now, this is what happens when dual natures are hooked up to a wagon. And this is what happens when a dual nature is printed inside a man.

The good that I ought to do is like that old mule that just sort of needs prodding all the time. It's hard to get to prayer meeting, it's hard to go to church, it's hard to tell your neighbor about Jesus. You've got to prod that nature. But that part that wants to go to the tavern and read the wrong books and listen to the wrong music is always eager to go; and he's got to be reined in all the time. Paul admitted to the struggle, and Paul gave us the answer. He said, "There's only One that can do it."

My friends, I testify today along with many others who could, that Christ is the answer. Christ will come into the mind and control it, and Christ will be that something within that holds the reins. Something within I cannot explain.

So I ask you, "What makes the difference?" I say, God through Jesus Christ our Lord, that's all. That's the only way a man can be controlled. This brings us, friends, to: Sanctification. Now remember, we're justified when we repent, confess and believe. When we believe, it is done; God takes away your sins and you're counted just. That's what makes you justified immediately, instantly. You don't need a month or two months or a tarrying period. It happens when you confess, you repent and you believe the promise of God. That's justification; it happens instantly. But the second part of this spiritual operation is called sanctification. To sanctify a thing means to set it apart for a sacred use. Now sanctification and justification are part of the same package. You can't have one without the other. Any doctrine that offers only pardon without offering victory is worse than no doctrine at all. In a religion which only accepts forgiveness and does not accept salvation from sin is worse than no religion at all. God does not do a half-way job upon us. He not only justifies, He sanctifies. He not only forgives a man for lying, He stops a man from lying. He not only forgives a man for drinking, He stops a man from drinking. He not only forgives a man for adultery, He stops a man from committing adultery. He offers victory over sin, and only those who get rid of all sin will go into the kingdom of God.

Now, the Lord offers sanctification, my friend. He justifies by imputing righteousness, by giving us credit for his goodness. He sanctifies by imparting righteousness, by sharing His life with us. So many Christians not only live a life like Christ, they live the life of Christ because Christ is inside of them. When a man is a sinner trying to come to God, the Holy Spirit is with him. When a man becomes a child of God, the Holy Spirit is in him. He lives the life of Christ, he speaks the words of God, he has the cheerful countenance of Christ, he is like Jesus because Jesus is inside of him. That's what Christ told the woman at the well in Samaria. He said, "I will give you water and it will become in you a well springing up, bubbling over and falling down in cascades of ecstatic joy. I will bubble away inside you." The righteousness of Christ will be your way of life-not something you do by will power, not something you do by conforming to a set of church rules. It will become your life, the way you want to live, the way you enjoy living.

We are told when God does this for a man, doing God's will is not just something we aspire to do, it's what we want to do. Carrying out His will becomes a carrying out of our own impulses.

I speak to young people a lot, and everywhere I go they ask me, "What's wrong with having a good time?" "What's wrong with the new sounds?" You know what my answer is nowadays? I find I get too involved trying to explain all these wrongs, and religion isn't like that anyhow. So when young people ask me what's wrong with movies and drugs and dancing, I say, "Nothing, if you are unconverted. That's what you're supposed to do." Why sure, the natural man thinks the things of God are foolishness, the Bible says. You're supposed to enjoy that if you're unconverted. I say let's not begin with dress and dancing and all these other things-let's begin with Jesus. And if you can learn to love Him and trust Him and become converted to Him, once you become born again you won't have to ask me what's wrong. You will know.

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