What God Desires In You
February 03, 2019 | Randy Smith
What God Desires In You
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
Our time is limited this morning and I have chosen to bite off a lot of verses so let’s jump right into the text.
The main point of this message is reflected in the title – “What God Desires of You.” I carefully chose those words to reflect the seriousness of what we will learn. In other words, if you asked God, “What kind of person do You want me to be?” Or put another way, “What is the primary characteristic that identifies the people going to heaven?” I believe this would be His response. This is a biblical response. This is a serious topic and an excellent topic for self-examination as we prepare for the Lord’s Table. God hates pride and wants and produces humility in His people. As you can see in your sermon notes, I will outline this sermon with five lessons.
Let me begin by reading verses 37-42 as an introduction. This is our first lesson.
“On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him. And a man from the crowd shouted, saying, ‘Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy, and a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves. I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not.’ And Jesus answered and said, ‘You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.’ While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.”
So last week’s sermon was the Transfiguration. Three of the Apostles were privileged to see the glory of Jesus Christ. The demonic account that I just read is related to last week’s message. One, the glory of Jesus Christ is again on display in His authority over demons, and two, seeing the glory of Jesus Christ should result in radical humility. Now as we move on, we will see the authority of Christ (in a more profound way), but we will not see the humility of the Apostles.
You’ll remember they guys were commissioned with special power to preform exorcisms. They were successful in the past. Now, less than a year later, they fail. The issue was not confidence in their ability. They were surprised it wasn’t working. The issue was too much confidence in their ability. This is what happens when we rely on our natural abilities and spiritual gifts to do the Lord’s work. We are powerless to accomplish anything without God’s presence. This is pride in self-sufficiency. Christ calls for humility that will rest entirely in His strength. Humility! That’s where we are going and watch how often that theme of humility surfaces! That was lesson number 1.
Lesson number 2. Verses 43-44, “And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples. Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”
It’s important we do not miss the connection with the people being amazed at the work of Christ (verse 43) and with His prediction of His work on the cross (verse 44). In other words, if they really want to see the “greatness of God” it comes not though flashy demonic exorcisms, but rather though humble suffering on a cross. Our Lord is more concerned with appreciation from the Father than the applause and approval from humans. The Lord demonstrates humility by showing people focused on greatness the greatest act from God’s perspective that we will ever know, and it is all about humility.
You see, the ultimate problem to ever face humanity is not global warming or gender isolated bathrooms or women’s healthcare or low self-esteem or even Donald Trump and MAGA hats. These are the ones that make headline news. It’s not even cancer or world poverty or border walls or North Korea.
The greatest problem we face is our own personal sin. Personal sin – something we all do is a direct rebellion against God’s character. God has given us good commands and on a daily basis we violate them. We are, Romans 2:5-6, “storing up wrath for [ourselves] in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds.” Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” Eventual physical death and when that comes, eternal spiritual death. Nothing comes close to the problem of being separated from God in hell for all of eternity. And the discouragement is that most are clueless and moreover, there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to fix this problem.
Thankfully God did. Jesus came on a rescue mission to lay His life down on the cross. As God, He would live the perfect life. As man, He would qualify as our human substitute. He took our sin upon Himself. He faced the wrath and judgment from the Father we deserved. He now makes complete forgiveness available for all who come to Him on the basis of faith. Or put another way, all who humble themselves by dying to self-reliance and self-sufficiency and self-righteous and self-works to be made right with God and trust entirely in what He did. And an indication of coming to Him will be a heart that is changed to be increasingly humble like He is.
Do not let anybody tell you otherwise. Our Lord’s humble work of the cross was His primary reason for coming. That is why that was the topic of discussion during the Transfiguration – verse 31, “[They] were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem – and the goal of His mission – verse 51, “He was determined to go to Jerusalem.”
So while the crowd was all talking about “the greatness of God” (verse 43), Jesus tells them “while everyone was marveling” that His true greatness will be seen at the cross. Verse 44, “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”
Lesson on humility number 3. Verse 45, “But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.” Why didn’t they understand it? I know the text says it was “concealed from them” from a divine perspective, but let’s look at this from a human perspective.
It wasn’t because this was the first time they heard it. Remember verse 22? “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”
The answer: pride does not understand, want or implement the true things of God. Pride does religion real well, but pride does not submit to a genuine relationship with Christ. You say, how do you know these guys were prideful and it was pride that prevented them from understanding and appreciating Christ’s most significant work?
Let me show you something very interesting. Turn with me to the Gospel of Mark.
Mark 8:31-32, “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. | And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.”
Mark 9:31-34, “For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.’ | But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him. They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.”
Mark 10:33-37, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again. | James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, ‘Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.’ And He said to them, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ They said to Him, ‘Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.’”
We see the same response in our passage from Luke two verses after our Lord predicted His sufferings. Verse 46, “An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest.” Jesus shows humility. They want personal glory. In our fallenness we are hardwired for pride. It’s the root of all sin and reason for every problem in the church. And our world, as it always does, has taken our Lord’s desire for humility and have turned it upside-down and have called pride a virtue. Pride blinds us to spiritual realities and is contrary to the character we see in Christ!
So we have individual pride demonstrated verse 46. Let’s jump ahead to verses 49 and 50 and look at the demonstration of group pride. This is lesson number 4.
Verse 49, “John answered and said, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.’
You get the picture. The Disciples thought they had the ownership, the copyright on this whole exorcism thing – ironically something by the way that they had just failed to do successfully. Now they see some other Christians performing exorcisms and they get offended. My friends, be suspicious when you get “offended.” Often it’s your pride hard at work!
This is group pride. This is what we naturally see in society, but sadly as here, something we see among believers too. It’s a competitive spirit that believes we are better than every church or that believes our ministry is more important than other ministries in the church. It’s a jealous spirit when we are overlooked for a ministry. It’s a bitter spirit when our family receives less attention. It’s a desire that we always stay on top that will naturally not rejoice in the success of others and will often find pleasure when others fail. Why is this prideful spirit wrong? Because it sees one’s personal success more important than God’s success.
How would we feel if we pray on Wednesday nights for revival, but it comes to a church down the road? How would we feel if another church is baptizing more converts? How would we feel if the decrease in our ministry might be needed for great success elsewhere in the church? I can provide countless examples, but the point is clear. Are we in this for ourselves – Grace Bible Church, our family our own identity, own kingdom – or are we solely about the Lord’s glory and ultimately His kingdom? Pride is all about me and my circles. Humility is all about Christ and being content if He receives all the glory, even if that means my actions are unappreciated or overlooked.
Frequently I tell the church leaders before we make decisions to take off our “husband and father hats.” If a decision involves you or your family, it is wise to permit others to have a greater say just to avoid the temptation to group pride.
Look what Jesus said in verse 50. “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”
There are no specific churches or denominations in God’s kingdom. If you are saved, you are on God’s team. God’s children are your teammates. Support each other. Encourage each other. Rejoice when God is working, even if it’s not under the banner of your ministry or your church or your country. The prideful competitive spirit often sees the enemy not as demonic forces, but rather other believers because they can steal your fanfare. The humble God-honor spirit sees those who do not oppose as being with us and (as Jesus said) “for us.”
So what is the humility Jesus is looking for? How about an object lesson on humility? And we find it sandwiched in the middle of the two accounts of the Disciple’s pride. Lesson number 5 for us.
Jump back to verse 47. “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side.” Verse 48, “And said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.’”
God loves all life because all life is created in His image. Yet God has a special affection for the weakest in our society like a baby. Yet for this illustration to make sense we need to see it from the cultural perspective of the time. And in the Greco-Roman culture of the first century very little value was placed on a small child. They couldn’t contribute much to the needs of the family or society. They had no achievements. They take more than they give. No had no rights. They are weak and vulnerable. Add to the fact that many died at a young age and you understand the belief that they were without value. You know even the Disciples at one point rebuked people who were bringing babies to Jesus (Lk. 18:15-18).
Here in verse 48 the teaching point is to receive children. In 18:16 the teaching point is the true followers of Jesus will have the heart of a child. This is not saying that being nice to children saves you. Nor is it saying that you should have childish behavior. Rather it’s a lesson on humility. A child is a model of humility and humble people are the people Christ receives. Be humble! Be childlike in your faith. Like a child to a parent, we should depend on, trust, follow, admire our heavenly Father. For such people are most responsive to God’s grace. It goes back to verse 23 – self-denial. Verse 48, “For the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” It goes back to humility.
Let’s remember, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).