Christmas 2020: Luke 2:1-20 How and Why Jesus Came

Christmas 2020
Luke 2:1-20
How and Why Jesus Came

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with and turn to Luke chapter 2. Yes, we are travelling backwards in time to October, which is when we recently looked at this text. Go ahead if your able and put your finger or a bookmark or whatever into Matthew chapter 1 as well.
You know, most pastors love doing their Christmas and Easter Sermons because its easy for them. It’s the same source material for each year, and its material they know intimately well. There are no more important days to Christianity than Christmas and Easter.
The stories and the verses in the Bible about Christmas are some of the most well know stories in the Bible by people in the congregation. We get so familiar with the texts and the themes.
But I’m going to be honest with you. These are the sermons that are really tough for me. Partly because we ARE so familiar with the stories of Christmas and Easter. Part of it is because these are the stories that you hear the most. We bring aspects of Jesus birth and incarnation and Jesus death and resurrection into, most if not all of the sermons we do on a weekly basis.
In this particular case, we add in that we just went through Luke chapter 2, and the birth of Jesus in October and this was a tough sermon to plan and prepare. So, here’s my thought, we are going to go back and camp in Luke chapter 2, reviewing his birth, with an emphasis on why Jesus came, for what purpose he was born.
We will bounce around into a lot of scriptures and let the Bible speak for itself in a lot of places. Because of this, and so that you’re not frantically trying to keep up and wasting time turning to pages that I am already moving on from, I’ve included in the bulletin a list of most, if not all of the scriptures that we will be reading during the sermon this morning, so please feel free to refer to that and turn ahead if needed.
So, let’s start first with the Christmas story itself, reading from Luke chapter 2, verse 1-20. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, please follow along in your Bible, with your preferred translation. The Word of God is inspired and inerrant and we believe in letting it speak for itself, so its absolutely important for you to read it for yourself and not just take anyone’s word for it.
Luke 2:1-20, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to write:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.[c
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

That’s the story we all know. That’s the story we all grew up hearing. This is the Christmas story. This is where we see Jesus born and brought into this world, and the effects are immediate.
Jesus, from Nazareth, born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, under the humblest and the lowliest of circumstances. This was all foretold, both in the recent past, to Mary and Joseph, and in the distant past, starting all the way back in Genesis 3.
And where I want to start is touching on just a few of the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that God gave to the people of Israel that would lead to them waiting for the Messiah to arrive and that Jesus would fulfill.
Genesis 3 is where it starts. Setting the context, Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden, perfect, sinless and walking in perfect communion with God. The Serpent, or the devil, comes along and tempts Eve to go against the one command the God had given them. Adam, right there with Eve allows her to give in and gives in as well. Sin enters the world. Death enters the world. Sin has now infected mankind. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. God told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that if he would eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that he would surely die.
And so, now what? Adam and Eve are doomed, right? And so are any offspring coming from them. Except God. Except God already knew all about this> God knows and ordains the future and so he already had a plan for this before he even created Adam and Eve. So, after they sinned, God talks to Adam, Eve and the Serpent and says in Genesis 3:14 & 15:
The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[e] and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
God the Father knew before then and told us that he was going to send a solution, a savior to rescue us from our sins, to restore our broken relationship with him and to grant us forgiveness and everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And so, throughout the Old Testament, through Genesis with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph. Through Exodus and the rest of the Pentateuch with Moses and Joshua. Through the historical books with the judges, Ruth, King Saul, David, Solomon and the rest of the Kings. And through the prophets, God continued to foreshadow, to prophecy and to remind all people that there was one coming who was going to make everything right again, who was going to restore the peace and the rhythm of the world of which he created.
Real quick, two of the most famous prophecies we read in the Old Testament, two of those that are most common attached and used in the Christmas story; first, Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
One of the greatest Christmas songs there is is Oh Come, oh Come Immanuel. Read the Lyrics, seriously. Goosebumps. Immanuel means God with Us. That’s exactly what the messiah, the promised savior would be, God with us.
Second, Isaiah 9:6 & 7:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

This is who Jesus is and would be. This is what he would accomplish in many ways. He will reign from the throne of David, and his kingdom will be everlasting. It will be perfect, justice and righteous. We see the trinity hinted at in that passage as well. Counselor, Holy Spirit, Father, Son and Prince, Jesus Christ. All God.
So, everyone was waiting for this promise to be fulfilled. They were waiting for a few thousand years. We see God speaking to the prophet Malachi and then, nothing. Silence. For over 400 years. Not until we see the angel Gabriel show up to Zachariah and to Mary and Joseph prophesying the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah.
Luke records Gabriel showing up and speaking to Mary in Luke 1:26-35:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[b] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[d]
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God.

A virgin birth. The throne of David. Son of the Most High God. A Kingdom with no end. All things we saw prophesied about in the passages we just read. What they had been waiting for. And then, Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4&5: when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
God became man. God clothed in flesh. God with us. That’s How Jesus came to earth. How he was sent, by God the Father on a mission. That’s the how, now we let scripture tell us the why.
First, back to what the angels told the shepherds in the field the night that Jesus was born. Luke 2:10-14:
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]

The Glory of God. Good News. Peace among Gods people. These are some of the reasons that Jesus Christ condescended from heaven, incarnated truly Go and truly man.
He came and he started preaching Good News, preaching the Word of God. He preached at the synagogue in Nazareth, recorded in Luke 4:17-21:
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Spiritual healing. Setting the captives free. Free from our bondage to that very sin we looked at moments ago that Adam cause to enter the world. Good news to those who are poor in spirit. Jesus says in Matthew 5:3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And very importantly, Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the scriptures.
Now, Jesus is the cure for the disease that is sin. Sin is what separated us from God and what keeps us from pursuing him and reconciling with him. Because of sin, we are in rebellion, open war with God. Jesus brings peace.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

If this passage is ever used to pit people against each other, its being used wrongly and out of context. This is not the second group is better than the first group. The point of this is Jesus, the grace of God and the work that he did on our behalf. We are all born sinners and all live as sinners until God intervenes on our behalf. Jesus came into this world, intervening into history, on our behalf.
Why? Romans 5:8. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus being born a human man was not enough. Remember that that wages of sin is death? Death is the consequence of sin. It is required to atone for sin. To make things right from sin. Jesus, living a life free from sin had no sin to atone for. He did not need to die because of sin. But he did so on our behalf. Paying the price, we could not pay. Atoning for our sin. Bringing forgiveness where we deserved none. Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection are the whole of his mission, to bring us back to God.
Paul sums up this Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8:
Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Jesus fulfills the scriptures, the promises that were made thousands of years before hand. He fulfills a plan that was made before the creation of the world. Jesus is God become man. Jesus came to save sinners, one mediator between God and man.
Salvation, freedom from sin. Forgiveness. Eternal life with God. Citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. Christs righteousness. All these things are available to us because of what Jesus did 2000 years ago. Available to us by the grace of God alone. Gods grace poured out on us, the vehicle for which is faith alone, no works, no deeds, no nothing on our end. The object of that faith shall be Christ alone. Jesus and only Jesus saves. There is one path to God the Father, and it is Jesus. And all of this as we have seen is for Gods Glory alone.
Ephesians 2:1-10 speaks to this, with Paul writing:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

This gift of God is free, though it is not what some would call Free Grace. Jesus doesn’t just save us so that we can stay as we are. Instead, he calls us to repent, to turn away from our sins, from our previous lives. The passage in 1 Corinthians 6 showed us that as well. There is a change in us if we meet Jesus and accept his gift by faith.

Lastly, God didn’t do any of this because he needs anything from us. He is trinity. Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Co eternal, Co-existence, One God. He wasn’t lonely or anything like that. But he does love us, his creations. And so that calm, starry night, 200 years, Jesus came down, in the fullness of time, to fulfill all prophecy and scripture to do something for us that we couldn’t do. That is what we celebrate at Christmas. That is what forget when we focus on anything other than the entire life and work and mission of Christ. Jesus born, but it didn’t end there, he lived and died and rose again and he is right now sitting on the throne of David, reigning and ruling over all of his creation.
So, we end with the most simple answer to the question: Why did Jesus come? WE let scripture answer, John 3:16-21:
“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Let’s Pray

Romans 13:11-14 Go and Sin No More

Romans 13:11-14
Go and Sin No More

Good Morning! Go ahead and grab your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 13. Please remember that if you do not own a Bible, we have some on the back table that you are free to take as our gift to you.
We have now been in Romans for an entire year. I preached on Romans chapter 1. verse 1-7 on March 4 of last year. Just to be clear, we will not be in Romans for another year. But in the introduction sermon to Romans, one year ago, we talked about some of the historical importance of the book of Romans. We looked at the conversions of Martin Luther, of John Wesley, and of Augustine.
The first two, Luther and Wesley were converted through the Word of God while reading and studying Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
It is the power of God for salvation and the righteous shall live by faith. Those are things that hit Luther and Wesley. And as we read it, it’s completely understandable. But that’s not what Augustine read that hit him. The verse that hit him is one of the ones we are going to look at this morning.
As we prepare to look at these couple of verses, I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but it reminds me of the importance of context. If all we look at are these 4 verses, we don’t really get a sense of what Paul is trying to say. If we separate it from the context of the previous couple of verses especially and chapters 12 & 13 as a whole, we lose the point that Paul is making.
So, before we go any further, let’s go ahead and read our passage for this week, Romans 13:11-14. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and encourage you to follow along in whichever version you have. Romans 13:11-14. Paul writes:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
So, we could, if we want, take this as a standalone section and go all sorts fo directions regarding the end times or so many other ways, but this passage is directly tied to what we have been reading in the last couple of sections, namely, living the Christina life in love.
Paul starts here, saying, “Besides this…” Explicitly and Purposely linking this passage with the previous passage instructing us to love our neighbor. The New American Standard translates it stronger and more connectivity, saying, “Do This…” again, referring to the Love your neighbor as the fulfillment of the law.
So, the question we ask, to see what Paul is saying, and what the Holy Spirit is inspiring him to say, is with the things it says in this passage, in these four verses, What does it mean to love your neighbor in light of these statements.
So, first off, what does it mean for us to love our neighbors knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now [g]salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
Paul’s point here is simple, We don’t have much time left, and more specifically, we don’t know how much time we have left. Jesus tells us continually that when he comes back, it will be sudden. (Matthew 24, Mark 13, etc) We are not going to see him coming back and then choose to be on his side, but we make a choice now and become ready for the day of his appearing.
And one aspect of loving our neighbors are to give them the chance to make that choice before it’s too late. Because, as Paul writes in Philippians 2:10 & 11: at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And that’s the great news! All will recognize God’s Glory and Jesus’ divinity. Every knee and every tongue. But look at the other part of what Paul says there. All who are in heaven or on earth or under earth. If we do not bow our knee and confess Jesus as LORD here in this life, we wont get a second chance in the next life.
And so our opportunity to love our neighbors is not timeless. The time is now. Our neighbors time is short. A huge part of loving them is sharing the truth of God Word with them. Paul wrote back in Romans 10, that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. (Romans 10:17) So, there wont be a chance for our neighbor to know salvation, unless someone shares the Word of God with them. Thats what we call evangelism. And Evangelism is one of the ways that we love our neighbors. My late uncle used to say that God has continually promised forgiveness if we ask, but he has never promised us tomorrow.
Our salvation is nearer to us today than it was when we first believed. Our final, full salvation, the fullness of salvation, our final, perfect sanctification is coming. And this is important for us to remember, for us to meditate on. Judgment is coming. All will be judged at the end. We will be separated into wheat or chaff. We will be separated as sheep or goats. We will be judged with perfect and righteous judgment as we stand before Christ on that last day.
And those who are wheat, those who are sheep, those who are in Christ, we will be judged not in our own righteousness, we will not be judged based on our own works or standing. Instead, we will be judged based on Christs righteousness, the love and forgiveness that he has graced us with. And, we are to take that love in from Christ and flow it out towards our neighbors.
It is said that Jonathon Edwards spent 20 minutes each morning meditating on heaven. The reason given is that it was so that he could root his present actions in the reality of that coming event. (https://www.fpcjackson.org/resource-library/sermons/a-call-to-live-in-light-of-the-coming-end)

The essence of sharing our faith, of evangelizing is love. It is wanting to see as many people as possible see the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is wanting to see as many people as possible see the forgiveness of sins. It is wanting to see as many people as possible saved from Gods wrath poured out on their sins. The first and greatest way we can love our neighbors is to let them know of the Hope that we have in Christ.
Penn Jillette is the talking half of Penn and Teller, the comedic magician duo. Jillette has shared a story of a man in Las Vegas who was a fan, sharing the Gospel with him. Im quoting from one of the news stories written about this:
The man walked over to Jillette, complimented him on the show and handed him a Gideons New Testament.
“And he said, ‘I wrote in the front of it, and I wanted you to have this. I’m kind of proselytizing,'” Jillette said. “And then he said, ‘I’m a businessman. I’m sane. I’m not crazy.’ And he looked me right in the eyes.
“It was really wonderful. I believe he knew that I was an atheist. But he was not defensive, and he looked me right in the eyes,” Jillette said. “And he was truly complimentary. It didn’t seem like empty flattery. He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me and then gave me this Bible.”
Jillette then stated he doesn’t respect people who don’t proselytize.
“I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize — ‘Just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself.’
“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” Jillette asked. “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
He gets it. Love does not always fit the little square, the little box of what we want or what we expect. It can and often will be uncomfortable. Both for us to go and do the loving, but also for the one being loved.
And that means that there will be push back. There will be rejection and fight back. That means that we will face spiritual warfare. We show love to our neighbors by fighting that warfare. Paul uses familiar wording, giving us the imagery of putting on armor and contrast light and darkness.
Of Course, Ephesians 6 talks of putting on the Armor of God. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-20:
0 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Now, of course, there are many sermons that we could preach based on those 10 verses right there, and I encourage you, read this passge purposely this week. All of it. From the first words of verse 10, through the last words of verse 20. We are in a spiritual battle, and it is not with our neighbors. It is not with our enemies. It is not with our fellow human beings, made in the image of God, deceived, unsaved and doing works of darkness. Instead, we are fighting against the rulers and authorities, or powers and principalities as some translations have it, against the spiritual forces of evil.
` And Jesus gives us some defenses listed here, to protect us in this unseen, but very real fight that we are in. And he gives us one offensive weapon, His Word, the Bible. We use what God has said to combat evil, to combat sin, to combat spiritual forces, and to combat anything else that comes between God and his image bearers.
And that last thing he says here too, praying in the spirit at ALL times, with ALL prayer and supplication, with ALL perseverance, for ALL saints, and also for me. And so, in that, also for you, for each and every one of us. So that we may speak tha truth of the Gospel boldly as we ought.
And as we put on the armor of light, we do so in order to cast off the works of darkness. We see numerous times in Paul’s letters that he lists a variety and partial list if sins that are committed. We saw one in Romans chapter 1, we see a couple mentioned in this passage here that we will touch on in a moment. We see another in 1 Corinthians chapter 6. And we see one in Galatians chapter 5.
Galatians chapter 5 is better known for the fruit of the Spirit in verses 22 & 23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. But sometimes we forget what I call the anti-fruit, or the vegetables of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
These various lists and especially what Paul mentions here in Romans 13:13 , are the works of darkness. And as is Paul’s general pattern, and as we just saw in Galatians 5, Paul often says, don’t do this, but he doesn’t end there. He then goes on to say, Instead, go do this. Not only lay aside the works of darkness, but instead, put on the armor of light.
Light and darkness are often contrasted in the scriptures. And most often, specifically, the light that is referenced is Jesus. When we shine our light (Matthew 5) we are showing the light of Jesus. John writes in his Gospel, chapter 1, verses 5 and then 9:  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. &  The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
With this, the armor of light would be the armor of Jesus, or the armor of God, the way, Paul phrases it back in Ephesians 6. And this light, Jesus does and will shine out the darkness. Darkness does not drive out light, but instead light drives out the darkness. There is no question about who the winner is or will be. Jesus, the light, wins over sin and darkness. We love our neighbors by fighting the spiritual warfare and putting on the armor of God, shining light into the darkness and sharing the Good News of Christ with them.
We also show them love, not just by telling them, but also by showing them. Verse 13 & 14 here: Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
So, verse 13 here is the one that hit Augustine. Here is a recounting of his story:
Augustine then retires to his garden with his friend Alypius under a crushing shame stemming from his inability to overcome his fleshly desires.11 A fight between two wills is then discussed by Augustine; however, he claims both contrary wills as his own, as opposed to the Manichaean doctrine that espouses a good will and a bad will.12 Finally, a broken Augustine landed under a fig tree in tears begging God to intervene.13 Through the sounds of his weeping heart, he heard a child’s voice from a neighbor’s house saying, “Take up and read; take up and read.”14 Interpreting the voice as a message from God, Augustine quickly retrieved his letters of St. Paul and started reading where his “eyes first fell.”15 Romans 13:13-14 immediately vanquished Augustine’s fears and he informed Alypius of his decision, who in turn, upon reading further to Romans 14:1 joined Augustine in his decision.16  (https://www.livestransforming.com/augustine-conversion/)

One of the ways that we love our neighbors is by willing to show them when their actions and behaviors are contrary to Gods Word. This also means that others show love to us by pointing out when our actions are contrary to the word of God.
And the Word of God calls us to live as if we were already standing in front of God in judgment. We are to walk as if in the day. We are to be Holy as our father in heaven is holy. (1 Peter 1:15) And that means repenting. It means turning away from our sins. It means casting aside the works and deeds of the flesh, and walking in the light, as he is in the light.
I say it every week, and I say it again, because its vital and important. We don’t earn any grace or favor with God by our actions. We don’t earn or achieve our salvation because we are in any way, shape or form good enough. We are sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. He has stepped in, sent Jesus Christ, God the Son to be the perfect substitute for our sins, allowing us forgiveness of sins and giving us his righteousness when the Holy spirit makes us a new creation. Salvation is wholly from God and in no part from ourselves. But, God calls us to do something in response ot our salvation. In order to access it, as Jesus tells us at the start of his ministry in Marks gospel, we are to Repent and believe.
If we get the order wrong, where we think that if we just stop sinning, God will love us, or if we are good enough, we wont need him, then someone needs to loving come and show us that we are wrong.
But one of the things that Paul is showing us is that we are to not be like everyone else around us. I saw a John MacArthur quote yesterday, A church that’s just like the world has nothing to offer the world. And that goes not only for the church as a body, but for all of us individually.
If there is not need to change our lives, to change our behaviors once we belong to Christ, than there is no reason for us to be Christians at all. There would be no hope in Christ, because we wouldn’t need him. And there would be nothing to offer our neighbors to show them love.
So often, as I said earlier, love doesn’t fit into the boxes that we want it too. Too often today, people want love to mean that all of our choices are affirmed. That we follow our bliss and our passion no matter what. That we are supported and encouraged and not held responsible for whatever we feel like doing right then. Paul says no!
No more orgies, no more drunkenness, no more fighting, no more jealousy, and no more sexual immorality of ANY kind. Stop! Those things go against Gods Word, they go against the way that God created things. They are sins. Paul says stop doing them.
Instead of clothing ourselves in these sins, we are to clothe ourselves in Christ. And we love our neighbor by telling them this. These actions are wrong. They are sin. And they are enough to damn you to hell.
Often, when we talk about repentance, and turning away from sin, we will qualify things by saying, “we are not going to be perfect, we will still sin, we will still slip.” And that is true in a sense. We will not be perfect in this lifetime. We will not see perfection til after the judgment when we get our heavenly bodies and see him face to face. This is true.
However, too often, by saying this, we are excusing those slips. And just by using that langues, slips, trips, falls, we deny the seriousness of our sins. We make them no big deal. But they are a very big deal. We are called to stop sinning. We are to make no provisions for the flesh. We are not to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Jesus, during his earthly ministry, would often confront sinful people, and show the love and grace and mercy but would always tell them to God and sin no more (John 4, John 8, etc.) Once we become a child of God, we are no longer bound by the chains of sin. We are no longer not able to not sin. Now, we have been freed and we do not have to give in to the desires that we are so used to giving in to. Way back in Genesis 4, in verse 7, God tells Cain, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to[c] you, but you must rule over it.”
By repenting, by living by a different standard, by separating not ourselves, but the way we live our lives from the world around us, we show the better way. We show the Holy way and we show the light of Jesus Christ. We show love.
Now of course, you have to use discernment and sense to determine how strongly, how often, how privately or publicly, how phrased, we tell this to those around us, but we need to tell them.
We cannot fall for the narrative of the world, where is crouched as Us vs Them. We just saw a few moments ago, that it isn’t, our battles are not with flesh and blood. So, instead of Us vs Them, but instead its Us For Them. Again, if we do ot show the world, if we do not show our neighbors that we are different, that there is something different about us, if they do not see the light of Christ shining through us and out from us, then what point is there to change what they are doing? What point is there to repent? What point is there to believe?
We are to love God with all our Heart, mind, soul and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Luke 10:27) And some of the biggest and lovingest ways we can love our neighbor is to share the Gospel, the Word of God with them, to give them a chance to make a decision to be with Christ for eternity. We shine light into the darkness, showing Christ in all that we do. We fight the spiritual warfare going on around us, praying for them and using the Bible against sin and falsehoods. We remember that our fight in that battle is not our neighbors, but Satan and his fallen angels. We call them to repent of their sins, even as we continually repent of our sins and continue to fight against the desires of our flesh. We show them their sins nd offer the forgiveness of Christ, who, if we put him on, we are clothed in his righteousness, and that, And that is what allows us to pass through the judgement of God without incurring his wrath and we get to join him for eternity future in the Kingdom of Heaven, worshipping him and basking in his glory forever and ever. Amen.
Lets Pray

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