Something’s Missing

in the Church

A final word from the Apostle Peter
By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church Menomonie, WI
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Somethings’ Missing…a final Word from Peter
By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church Fall 2009

This document contains: Part One: Introduction Part Two: False Teachers, page 8 Part Three: The Starting Point…Faith, page 14 Part Four: Power, Knowledge & Effort, page 22 Part Five: Moral Excellence, page 28 Part Six: Self Control & Perseverance, page 36 Part Seven: Godliness, page 43

Somethings’ Missing…a final Word from Peter
Part One 10.4.09

A year ago last Easter I did a sermon series called “One Month to Live” and I challenged us to live our lives like we only had 30 days left on earth. One of the things I asked you to do was write letters to your loved ones. I don’t know how many of you did that but I did. I wrote a letter to Lisa and my three kids. I mostly shared how much I loved everybody. But I also shared my desire for them…what I saw in them and what I hoped they’d pursue in life. I told Lisa that I thought she should remarry but I hoped she’d find someone who was lower maintenance that me! I could have just told them these things but the reason I wrote it down was because I wanted them to remember what I said. I didn’t want my words to be forgotten. So I put it in writing. Now, if there is ever any doubt, they have my words preserved in those letters. Well, I mention this because for the next several weeks we are going to look at a final letter from one of the most famous of all Bible characters…Peter. Peter had one month to live you might say and so he sent one last letter to the church so we’d never forget what he wanted us to know. The cool thing is that we have that letter in our hands right now. Peter speaks to us today through this same letter. Now, just in case you don’t know much about Peter, Peter was on the inner circle of Jesus…not only was he alive during the time of Jesus…not only was he invited to be one of Jesus’ disciples…but he was one of the three people that Jesus shared the most intimate details of his life. The Bible often mentions that Jesus would leave nine of his disciples behind and just take Peter, James and John. Peter was the guy who Jesus invited to walk on water with him. He was the first one to identify Jesus as messiah. Peter was the one who defended Jesus with a sword in the Garden of
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Gethsemene. And Peter was the person to whom Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build my church”. So it’s no surprise in the book of Acts – where it tells the story of the early church that Peter is the initial spokesman and leader. Now, as important as Peter was we only have two short letters written by him tucked in the back of the Bible. Although the Gospel of Mark is thought to be a collection of Peter’s teachings. Peter’s first letter was written to encourage Christians to endure persecution and hardship. But his second letter came just before he died in about the year 67 A.D. Listen to how he refers to his impending death… I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 2 Peter 1:13,14 We don’t know how Jesus made it clear but Peter was convinced that he was about to die so he wanted to leave the church with a final word. So he wrote out this letter detailing his concerns as well as a challenge. What do you think he had to say that was so important? Well, as my sermon title says, he felt something was missing in the church and it was missing because false teachers had come into the church telling a very different story from the apostles…an easier story about what it means to follow Jesus. Let me read some excerpts from his letter. …there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. 2 Peter 2:1-3 He’s a little vague at first, speaking only of greed and shameful ways. But then he gets a little more specific… Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood! 2 Peter 2:13,14 He seems to be saying that these teachers used their position to take advantage of people sexually. But it seems they also encouraged people to engage in sin. These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 2 Peter 2:17-19
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Can you sense what is making Peter so mad here? He has preached the message of Jesus his whole life. And it’s changed people. They’d come alive. But then, just as he nears the end of his life these jokers try to undermine everything he’s worked for. They pull people aside and say…Why are you changing your lifestyle? Jesus loves you just the way you are. You don’t need to change. Don’t let those religious conservatives like Peter cramp your style. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Come on, let’s party. God’s forgiveness covers your sin. Jesus’ death paid for your sin. Now you are free to live however you want. Now, there is some truth in that. Actually, a lot of truth. Almost everything I said was true. Jesus really does love us just the way we are. God’s forgiveness does cover all our sin. Jesus’s death did pay for our sin. And you are free to live however you want. But that’s the nature of false teaching. It takes truth and twists it just enough to take you off course. That’s what makes it so deadly. If you aren’t careful it sounds so true. So Peter writes to correct the error. He opens his letter by saying Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ… 2 Peter 1:1 That’s not just a formal greeting. He’s making a point. By calling himself both servant and apostle he’s telling his readers that he speaks on behalf of Jesus. He’s not writing with his own agenda in mind like the false teachers do. He’s writing in service to Jesus. You see, he’s no fly by night, self-serving false teacher. He speaks with authority…the authority of an apostle…which means someone who walked with Jesus unlike the false teachers. And in case they miss that he states it plainly a few sentences into the letter… We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. Peter’s teaching wasn’t some watered down version of Jesus’ teaching passed on to him by others and laced with his own opinions. Peter’s teaching was 100% pure Jesus. But not only was Peter an eyewitness to Jesus’ teaching, he was an eyewitness to his glory. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 2 Peter 1:15-17 Now, this is significant. Peter’s referring to the story where Peter, James and John go up the mountain with Jesus. We call it the Mount of Tranfiguration. This is how Luke tells it… … Jesus … took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. … Peter and his companions … saw his glory ... Luke 9:28-32 This is no small event. There are only a few occurrences of someone seeing the glory of God in the Bible. It happened with Moses and Elijah and the prophet Isaiah. So Peter was one of a
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privileged few to see God pull back the curtain and reveal just a glimpse of his splendor. Listen to how Isaiah describes his experience… I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Isaiah 6:1-5 Two things happen when you encounter God like this. First, you see how holy God is. And second, you see how unholy you are. That’s what happened to Isaiah. He said, I am a man of unclean lips. And I bet the same thing happened to Peter. Peter realized that he wasn’t following just another rabbi with some insightful teaching. He was following the God made flesh. Now, why do you think Peter mentioned this experience? Peter wants to show how laughable it is to think that Jesus - whom he saw revealed in glory - is okay with immorality in his people. Anyone who truly knew Jesus like Peter did knew that Jesus called his followers to a life of, what Peter called, moral excellence. Anyone who would challenge that was clearly a false teacher out for his own gain. So before he dies, Peter wants to make this known. In fact, in contrast to an immoral life, Jesus wants just the opposite. He wants his followers to reflect the nature of God. Peter puts it like this… His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3,4 And then Peter tells us what’s missing in their faith… For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 1 Peter 1:5,6 Peter mentions seven things to add to our faith. Faith alone will make you God’s child. You don’t need these seven things. But Peter would say that we aren’t meant to stay in the nursery all our life. We are called to grow up and mature and reflect the nature of our Father. Imagine a parent with a child. They love that child. But if the child gets older but doesn’t mature, that’s a
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problem. They love their child. But a 25 year old in diapers isn’t what they were hoping for, is it? They had hope that the child would grow up into adulthood. So, in contrast to the false teachers who lowered the moral standard for believers, Peter raises the standard. But now, this is what you need to see. How do we obtain this standard? Peter tells us that God’s divine power has GIVEN us everything we need to be godly. It’s very important that you see that because if you don’t see that these verses will stand to accuse and condemn you. Right? In fact, I bet that’s what some of you heard when I read this. You felt condemned by these seven things, like you could never measure up. But look at this…Peter uses the word the word “given” twice. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3,4 Godliness isn’t something that you have to come up with on your own. It’s something that God gives us. And we don’t have to come up with it to be accepted by God. God wants to bless us with his nature so we can enjoy freedom in a way that we’ve never known before. Godliness is a gift that God want so share with us. He knows we struggle under the weight of sin. He wants us to enter into his freedom. Plus he wants us to reflect his glory to others. You see I think a lot of us understand and enjoy the forgiveness of God. And we are grateful for that. But Peter would say, don’t stop at forgiveness. God has a lot more for you than that! He wants to share his divine nature with you so you can escape the temptations that have been bringing you down for so long. I was listening to a pastor the other day on a podcast. He was talking about new things his church has been trying. And he made this statement; in order to reach people that have never been reached we need to do things that have never been done. Now, I immediately liked that. That statement appeals to me. It kind of sums up the spirit in which this church was started…we did something that had never been done in this area to reach people that had never been reached. This pastor went on to talk about some innovative things his church was doing. For example he said their band members offered to play in local bars for free so church members could invite their friends to see the band at a local hangout. Or, they decided to offer a video service for Hispanics where they showed the sermon with Spanish overdubbed into the audio. I think those are both interesting ideas. They have some potential. But the more I thought about it I thought, why is it that when we think of doing things that have never been done we are so quick to jump to creating an event or using a new technology…as if doing something bigger and better is what’s going to really win people to Jesus?
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I mean, what did the church do before technology to impress people? How did anyone ever come to Christ? You see, I think it’s a lot easier than we tend to make it. I think that if we want to do things that have never been done then we should just start living what the Bible says. Imagine encountering a church our size and everyone was radically committed to obeying the teaching of Jesus. Imagine a group of people that was radically committed to loving like Jesus. Do you think that would speak to anyone? I think it would. I think that’s what Peter was looking for. That’s what was missing in the church. I don’t think people are looking for a church that has more bells and whistles. As excited as I am to be building our own building, that building isn’t going to win anyone to Jesus all by itself. In fact, we have to be careful not to let the building become a substitute for what God wants to do in us. Instead of pointing to the building and saying…Look what God has done! God wants us to be able to point to our own lives and say, “Look what God has done!” Do you see that? Well, we are going to look at this in detail in the coming weeks. I just cracked the surface today but I hope you’ll join me in considering how you might add to your faith.

Going Deeper Use these questions for personal reflection or to discuss with your friends, family or small group. 1. 2. Read 2 Peter 1:13,14. Peter knew he was going to die. If you knew you were going to die what would you want to make sure people knew? How would you make it memorable? Peter contrasts his eyewitness experience with Jesus to that of false teachers. Have you ever been exposed to false teaching? What was the impact on you and the church or people you knew? Read 2 Peter chapter 2. What appeared to be the false teaching that Peter was referring to? Again, from chapter 2, what is the fate of false teachers? Why is this so harsh? Read 2 Peter 1:16-18. Now read Luke 9:28-36. How do you think experiencing God’s glory would impact you? How did it impact Peter's view of the Christian lifestyle? Read 2 Peter 1:3,4. What does it mean to participate in the divine nature? What has God done to make this possible? How realistic do you think it is to share in God’s nature? Do Peter’s words give you hope or a sense of dread…like, he’s expecting something that is possible or unattainable?

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

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Something’s Missing…a final word from Peter
Part Two By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 10.11.09

I started a new series last Sunday called “Something’s Missing”… a final word from Peter. It’s a look at the final message that the apostle Peter sent to the church just before he died. You see, after living day in and day out with Jesus for three years, listening to Jesus’ teaching, Peter faithfully preached those same teachings for 30 years. But toward the end of his life something happened to the church. False teachers had come into the church preaching a very different message. At first, Peter probably thought that no one would be foolish enough to believe these false teachers…after all…Peter and the other apostles lived with Jesus. Clearly, they had the true message. Why would anyone follow the teaching of someone who blatantly rejected Jesus’ teaching? But, surprisingly, the false teachers took on a following and it was impacting the church. So, before he dies, Peter writes a letter telling the church that there is something missing in the church …something very important…godly character. You see, the false teachers were telling the people that it was okay to sin…especially sexual sin. So Peter tells them that they need to add seven key virtues to their faith … …make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 Can you imagine a church that lacked these qualities? These were the virtues that Jesus taught but Peter said they were missing in action. Can you imagine how disheartening it would have been for Peter to see the church in such a state after having invested his entire life? I don’t know but I wonder if he felt like he let Jesus down… like he allowed the church to lose its luster under his watch. Who could have guessed that false teachers would have had such an impact on the church? So Peter writes, cautioning the church about the false teachers and challenging them about the kind of lives they should be living. I should warn you that this is a pretty serious letter. Peter is not happy and he shoots straight about what he sees wrong in the church. Now, next week I’m going to start to unpack the seven virtues I just read but today I want to focus on the false teachers. Peter contrasts his apostolic teaching with the false teaching that has crept into the church. If you don’t understand the false teachers, you won’t understand what Peter has to say about adding virtue to your faith. So I want to spend today helping us understand the context of the letter. If you take out your sermon notes you’ll see that I have seven things to tell you about false teachers. 1. Reinterpret Scripture.

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First, false teachers reinterpret scripture or put their own personal “spin” on it. If Peter were to visit the church today I think he’d be shocked at how many versions of his original message exist. To him I’m sure it was so simple. Jesus taught him and he taught others. It wasn’t complicated and it wasn’t negotiable. But today you can find any flavor of Christianity that you want. You want a church that is harsh and judgmental? We’ve got that. You want a church that winks at sin? We’ve got that too. You want a church that incorporates other religions? Sure thing. No problem. But Peter tells us that it was never meant to be that way. He starts off with two emphatic statements… Above all… That means “make sure you get this” and then he says… you must understand … meaning that it’s crucial to the point of his entire letter… that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20,21 You see there are all these teachers out there giving meaning to the Bible that it was never meant to have. So Peter says, Look, not even the writers of the Bible felt free to offer their interpretation of the words they spoke. So who do these teachers think they are to alter the meaning of the Bible that has been accepted for years? For Peter, the Bible wasn’t up for debate. Its interpretation wasn’t up for popular vote. The Bible was meant to pass along GOD’S word to his people, not MAN’S opinion. And Peter knew what that was all about. For 30 years he had passed along the teaching of Jesus. He never added to it or subtracted from it. He was careful to pass on exactly what he heard Jesus say, nothing more, nothing less. So you can imagine why these false teachers got on Peter’s nerves. Who did they think they were? Later on in his letter Peter says… I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. 2 Peter 3:2 In other words, Peter is saying, there are only two places to look for truth; the prophets in the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus that the apostles delivered. So, if you are listening to someone who has a different message from the prophets or apostles you have the wrong message. 2. Change or Ignore Key Doctrines. The second thing we learn from Peter about False Teachers is that they change or ignore key doctrines. …there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them… 2 Peter 2:1 Let me define a few words for you here. The word “heresies” simply means “choices”. So a false teacher offers choices or options. That sounds pretty harmless, doesn’t it? 9

I mean, in our consumer driven culture we expect to be offered choices don’t we? If you walked into an ice cream parlor and they offered one flavor, you’d be insulted. If you walked into a clothing store and they only had one kind of shirt you’d be mad. And so when someone suggests that there is only one way to believe it gets under our skin. But Peter would say that it’s a different story inside of the church. Look at the word that Peter uses to describe the heresies or “choices”…he calls them “destructive”. The alternative views that false teachers offer actually destroy your faith and render your faith useless. So, maybe some choices aren’t so harmless after all. Peter says that the people who offer these alternate views are doing much more than merely offering a different way of thinking. They are denying the teaching of Jesus in favor of their own version of truth. To offer an alternative view was to deny Jesus. One of the teachings of Jesus that was being denied was the coming judgment. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 2 Peter 3:3-4 The false teachers were saying, Look, Jesus said he was coming back but I don’t see him. He’s not going to judge us. We can live however we want without any consequence. I think this attitude of eliminating or ignoring key doctrines is something that we have to be careful with. What I mean is that there’s a tendency in churches today to not talk about anything that that might be perceived as narrow minded or intolerant. As the person who stands up every week and speaks I feel this pressure. I know that there are new people to Cedarbrook every week and I don’t want their first visit to church to be offensive to them. But in some churches certain themes have been blacklisted, like; sin, judgment and hell… either because we don’t believe in them anymore or because we are embarrassed about them for being politically incorrect. So we stick to topics like love and forgiveness and how to be a better parent or five steps to a stress free life (all good, biblical topics). But, do you know what? If you don’t believe in sin, judgment and hell, you don’t need a Savior…you just need a life coach! You see, I think we lack integrity if we don’t fully divulge the message of Jesus and only talk about the part that’s socially acceptable. We need to have some truth in advertizing. People join us every week who are questioning the faith and I don’t think it’s fair to just show them the soft side of Jesus’ teaching. I think they deserve to hear the side that might offend them and even cause them to walk away. People need to know the full story, not just the politically correct version. The full story is that Jesus did label certain behavior as sin and he did teach that a day of judgment is coming. Jesus even said that there is a place called hell for people that reject him. It’s a highly offensive message. For someone like me that works at being inclusive and welcoming and non-judgmental, this is hard. But Peter would say that if we 10

change the message or ignore certain components of the message to make it more palatable that we are false teachers. I don’t want that. 3. Immoral. Third, false teachers are immoral. When Peter talks about immorality he’s primarily talking about sexual immorality… meaning, any sex outside of marriage. He says… Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable…appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature… 2 Peter 2:13,14,19 Peter was amazed at what was happening because, in the past, most people reserve their carousing for the night. But these teachers were so bold that they partied in broad daylight and even at the believers communion meal. That’s probably what Peter is referring to when he mentions their “feast”. In those days, communion wasn’t a five minute ritual but a full meal celebrating what Jesus did for us. Shockingly, these teachers used that meal as a chance to get drunk and chase women. Can you imagine being Peter, one of the people who sat with Jesus at the Last Supper, hearing reports back of what was happening at communion meals? I remember years ago when I was a waiter…I invited a waitress friend to church and she came. I was thrilled. And then she went to a Bible study and I was so excited for her. But then I heard that one of the members of our church hit on her and seduced her after the Bible study. I was so disappointed…not in her so much…that was the lifestyle she was used to. But I was disappointed in this guy who had been a part of the church for years. He knew better. But he was just like these false teachers, using his faith as an excuse to sin. 4. Greedy. Fourth, false teachers are greedy. Greed is an insatiable desire to have more of something… usually money or possessions. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up…they are experts in greed--an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam… 2 Peter 2:3, 14,15 Balaam was a prophet in the Old Testament that offered prophecies for a fee. If you wanted to get God to bless you or to curse your enemy, Balaam was your guy…for the right price. So for Peter to make this reference to Balaam these false teachers must have been working the people for money in some way. Again, this must have been hard to stomach for Peter. Jesus told people that foxes have holes to sleep in and birds have their nest, but Jesus didn’t even have a pillow for his head. So to see these teachers not only distort the message of Jesus but then make money off of it must have been too much to handle. 5. Despise Authority. Next, False Teachers despise authority. …[they] follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. 2 Peter 2:10

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That means they aren’t interested in submitting their thinking to anyone else. They won’t answer to anyone because they see themselves as the source of truth. They worship at the altar of their own reason and intellect. They have no interest in submitting to the apostle’s message. They want to create their own truth. You know, this idea of creating your own truth is so much the spirit of this age. But when I was ordained I experienced something that really challenged this idea. Ordination required a two year process of reading books and writing papers and then I came before a board of other pastors who quizzed me on my faith and doctrine. At first I thought it was a waste a time…just some religious hoops to jump through to get a title that I didn’t even care to have…but I remember on the eve of my ordination examine finally “getting” what ordination was all about. Ordination is about proving to your peers that you not only understand the apostolic message…that is…the message that has been passed down through the ages starting with Abraham, going through Moses and David and then Jesus and his apostles. But ordination also proves that you are committed to teaching the same message that has been taught through the ages. In other words, this wasn’t MY message for ME to teach how I wanted. This was God’s message that I was being entrusted with. I could embrace the message and teach it faithfully or I could reject it but I couldn’t alter it for my own benefit. So I realized that ordination is about submitting myself to the authority of the apostolic message. It’s a holy thing…a sacred trust. And I felt it that night. And I feel it every week as I prepare and preach my sermons. I hope you see what I’m saying here. I think we live in an age that despises authority. We don’t want to submit to the message that has been passed down. We want to create our own truth. We don’t like people telling us what to do and we really don’t like people telling us what to think. Most people want to customize their faith…picking and choosing what beliefs work best for them. But be careful with that. I’m not saying we should just empty our minds and accept the Bible without any thought or question. God wants you to question things so that when you finally believe, you believe deeply. But there is a point where you lose the right to call yourself a Christian if you modify the message. Do you see that? I think it’s much more intellectually honest to say that you can’t swallow the Christian faith than to call yourself a Christian and either modify the message or ignore the parts you don’t like about the faith. My point here is that it’s not just false teachers who despise authority. I think more of us despise authority than we care to admit when it comes to the Christian faith. That’s just human nature. And I’m sure I’m just as guilty as anyone. So let’s be careful how we handle the message. 6. Will be judged. Sixth, Peter tells us that false teachers will be judged. Peter makes it clear that false teachers aren’t just off base. They are dead wrong…literally. I counted 14 times in this brief letter where Peter refers to the judgment that is coming to false teachers. Here’s just a sample…

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They will…bring swift destruction on themselves… Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping…Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 2 Peter 2:1, 3, 17 Peter is sounding the alarm here. These guys are headed for the cliff so if you don’t want to go with them, stop listening to them! Paul sounds a similar alarm in his letter to the Galatians. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! Galatians 1:6-8 Paul was just as narrow-minded and judgmental as Peter. There was one apostolic message and either you believed it or you didn’t. But you didn’t change it without the threat of destruction. 7. Produce bad fruit. Finally, false teachers produce bad fruit. After listing the seven attributes that we should add to our faith Peter helps us to see the difference between following his teaching and following the false teaching. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, As just a reminder…the qualities he’s referring to are goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To be ineffective in your knowledge of Jesus means that what you believe isn’t helping you to walk with God. You might work hard at gaining knowledge about God but if your knowledge is wrong it won’t do anything for you. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. By following the false teaching you might get to enjoy your desire to sin. It gives you immediate gratification …that’s what he means by being nearsighted. But you are blind to what Jesus has done for you. He came to free you from sin. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, … On the positive side, Peter says if do these things you won’t fall and shipwreck your faith. Instead, you’ll receive a hero’s welcome in heaven. …and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:8-11

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False Teaching Ineffective and unproductive Nearsighted, blind, forgetful Cause you to fall away Doubt your entrance into heaven

Peter’s Teaching Effective and productive Farsighted, mindful, grateful Cause you to stand strong Be confident about your entrance into heaven

Hopefully, Peter has you convinced that you need to add to your faith. So, next week I’ll start unpacking the seven virtues that Peter says are lacking in the church. Prayer: Father, you warned us about false teachers. Give us eyes to not only discern false teachers but the sinfulness of our heart that is willing to listen to alternative messages.

Going Deeper Use the following questions for personal reflection or to discuss with family, friends or your small group. 1. Talk about a time when you or someone you know stood up for what you/they believed in that was politically incorrect. What was the reaction? 2. Read 2 Peter, chapter 2. Peter was about to die so he wasn't concerned about being politically incorrect. From what you've read or heard from Peter, how do you think he was politically incorrect? How would his message be received by the church at large today? 3. How do Peter's words strike you? What makes you uncomfortable? What gives you hope? 4. Why was Peter so quick to condemn false teachers? 5. The Day of Judgment is one of the doctrines eliminated or ignored in the church today. Why is that? Should we talk about it more or less? Why? 6. False teachers "repackage" scripture to gain followers. What kind of repackaging have you seen in our culture today? 7. False teachers are immoral and use immoral teaching to gain followers. Read Romans 6;1-7. What was Paul's take on the teaching that said..."since Jesus conquered sin we are free to sin". 8. Read 2 Timothy 3:13-17. What does Paul say we can do to guard ourselves from false teachers? 9. Our church culture is often quick to reject biblical teaching that doesn't fit with their view of life. We "cherry pick" what works for us and leave the rest. What do you think Peter would say to the church today about our view of scripture? Confer with 2 Peter 1:20,21 and note the phrase in vs. 20, "above all". 10. In contrast to the "low road" offered by the false teachers, Peter calls us to take the high road. Read 2 Peter 1:5-11. Which of the four threats to your faith do you struggle with? What can you do to address them?

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Something’s Missing Part Three: The Starting Point…Faith By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 10.18.09

When the weather turns cold my breakfasts often turn from toast to oatmeal. There’s just something about a hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold day that I really like. I’m not an instant breakfast kind of guy so I chop up nuts and apples and throw in raisins and cranberries and maple syrup and sometimes even wild rice. Does anyone else eat oatmeal like that? Well, I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but when I sit down to eat my oatmeal I’m often surprised that it doesn’t taste that good. Do you know why? Something’s missing. Do you know what it’s missing? Usually salt. Sometimes I forget the sweetner. I throw in all this good stuff but without the salt or sweetner it tastes like baby food. But when I add those two things…voila! Suddenly it’s got the taste that I’m looking for. Well, I tell you about my oatmeal because I’m on the third week of a series I’m calling Something’s Missing…a final word from Peter. I’m looking at the second of two letters written by the apostle Peter. And I’m calling this series Something’s Missing because that’s what Peter told the church. He said church…something’s missing. You are missing something that should be central to your existence and it’s making the church like oatmeal without the salt. What was the church missing? Godly character. This is what he says. …make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 Peter says that faith is good…that’s the starting point …that’s the baseline…but God wants to take us beyond faith…beyond merely connecting with God – that basic entry-level relationship to living a life that reveals God’s glory to those around us. God is looking for us to grow up so we can join the family business – so to speak. And the family business involves revealing his glory – that is, God’s greatness – to people in our sphere of influence. But in order to grow up we need to add a few things to our faith. I’m looking forward to talking about this more but before I do that I want to take today to focus on faith. You see, it’s easy to jump right over faith and just focus on these seven virtues. Faith is the baseline. Faith is the starting point. And without a good understanding of faith I’m afraid we might mishandle the virtues that Peter told us to add to our faith. We might think that these virtues are what make us acceptable to God. But that’s not right. What makes us acceptable is our faith. This list is for people that already have faith. People that have already been accepted by God…already adopted into his family. So as we walk through these virtues remember these aren’t steps to salvation. They are add-ons to our salvation. Peter isn’t giving them this list of
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virtues to make them more acceptable. He’s giving them this list to make them more effective. I’ll talk more about that in the weeks to come but for today, let’s look at faith. We can learn a couple of things about faith right in verse one. To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours… 2 Peter 1:1 The first thing here is that faith is something that we receive. The word here for “receive” means to obtain something that is granted to you. That means it’s a gift. Faith isn’t something that you earn. It’s given to you. Faith isn’t something you have to find inside yourself. It comes from God. The second thing this verse tells me is that we are granted faith, not because we did something but because Jesus did something. It mentions that it is through the righteousness of Jesus that we receive out faith. The righteousness of Jesus refers to all the good things he did for us in coming to earth, teaching us, dying for us and rising from the dead. Jesus made it possible for us to even have faith in God. But just like any gift, we have to receive the gift of faith. We can’t be passive. If I give you a gift, that transaction isn’t really complete until you open it and make use of it. I know some of us struggle with faith. You don’t quite understand it and as a result you struggle connecting with God. I thought of four kinds of people that struggle to open the gift of faith. Some people won’t open the gift of faith because they don’t think they are worthy of it. They don’t think they deserve it. The idea that God wants a relationship with them is too hard to believe. And so they don’t even try. They leave the gift of faith unopened. Other people think they aren’t worthy but hope that if they try really hard that they can convince God to accept them so they work overtime at being religious and helpful and moral. They are usually busy at church but they never open the gift of faith because they are too busy striving and trying to please God. Then there is another type of person that doesn’t open the gift of faith because they think Christianity has made it too easy to connect with God. They don’t like the thought that anyone can turn to God. It doesn’t seem fair. They want it to be more exclusive…they want people to work for their acceptance with God so it has more value. And so they don’t open the gift of faith almost out of protest. And then there’s a fourth group of people that think they have faith because of the good life they’ve led and all they’ve done for God. But the truth is they never did open the gift of faith because their faith isn’t in God…it is only in themselves. And so they too haven’t opened the gift of faith. They are too busy looking in the mirror and patting themselves on the back. There are all kinds of people that haven’t opened the gift of faith. Maybe you are one of them.
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Jesus told a story once about two of these groups of people and I think it will help give us some insight into what faith is all about. The story is in the book of Luke, chapter 18. That’s on page 718 in the church Bible. He tells the story to make a point about what it takes to find favor with God. Jesus was talking to some very religious men one day who were also very judgmental. Luke describes it like this… To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable… Luke 18:9 Jesus says… Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Luke 18:10 Now, to the men that were listening to this story…they would have immediately understood the scenario because it happened every day. Twice a day – at both dawn and then at 3pm - a lamb was sacrificed and its blood was sprinkled on the altar to atone or to pay for the sins of God’s people. Then the priest would enter the sanctuary and burn incense. Jews gathered during this ceremony and offered prayers. So the Pharisee and the tax collector aren’t randomly going up to the temple to pray by themselves. They are going for a worship service that revolves around the sacrifice of a lamb. Now, it was obvious to these men hearing the story which of these two men was more pleasing to God. After all, Pharisee’s were at the top of the spiritual ladder and tax collectors were at the bottom. Pharisees had everything going for them. They were educated. They read their Bible and they worked hard at obeying what the Bible taught. So, everyone knew that Pharisees were God’s chosen people. And of course, the other man was a tax-collector…a clear loser. Tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Romans. They were considered turncoats; sell outs. Everyone hated them. Not only did they work for the Romans but they earned their living by extorting money from their friends and family. So the men listening to this story must have felt pretty smug assuming they knew where this story was headed. They were preparing themselves to be congratulated by Jesus. Let’s take a look at these two men. The first thing we see here is that the Pharisee stands apart. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself… Luke 18:11 The word “about” can also be translated “by himself” and that’s what many people think that Jesus meant; that the Pharisee stood up and prayed by himself. In other words, he separated himself from the crowd of worshippers to make sure he didn’t touch any of the sinners and defile himself.

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Then the Pharisee prays. Now, before we look at his prayer it’s important to know that good prayer was considered to have at least one of these components…confession of sin thanks for good things received requests for oneself and others. But look at what he the Pharisee prays… God, I thank you that…I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. Luke 18:11,12 Do you notice any problems here? There’s no confession, thanks or requests. His prayer is all about himself. He refers to himself three times and never once refers to God, basically saying… God, I thank you that I am so wonderful! Second, his reference point is other people and not God. Rather than talk about how he falls short of God’s perfection he talks about how much better he is than the sinners. And since he was praying out loud he made his thoughts known to not only God but everyone else gathered there… even pointing out the tax collector… Thank you that I’m not like THIS tax collector. Have you ever been on the receiving end of that kind of prayer? Maybe when you were a kid your parents said grace before the meal and added a few words on your behalf. Oh God, we thank you for this meal. And we thank you for this family. Thank you that you’ve given our Jimmy a good mind so that he won’t do anything stupid tonight with his friends and that he’ll be home by ten o’clock, not ten fifteen because you are such a good God and you would never let him disobey his parents like that! This prayer starts out being directed to God but you eventually catch the drift that it was more a message to you. So, that’s what was happening here. The prayer sounded like it was directed at God but we quickly learn that is was really directed at the sinners in his midst. So, after the Pharisee notes how he’s not like the sinners he talks about what he does do. He not only obeys God by giving ten percent of his money but he made up his own rule and fasts twice a week. Now giving his money and fasting are great habits but notice what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t talk about anything internal, like qualities of character. Everything that he has mentioned has to do with external habits. You see, he’s convinced that he has favor with God because of his outward behavior. But you can be evil to the core and still fast and give away your money. In fact, Jesus criticized Pharisees for that very thing… Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:27,28 So, this Pharisee looks religious on the outside but he is totally self reliant. His faith isn’t in God, it’s in himself. And so, he is not a worshipper of God. He is a worshipper of himself.
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But now look at the tax collector. But the tax collector stood at a distance. Luke 18:13 The tax collector stood at a distance just like the Pharisee but for a different reason. The Pharisee stood by himself because he was proud but the tax collector stood apart because he was humble. The Pharisee stood apart because he was afraid of being defiled. The tax collector stood apart because he was afraid of defiling others. You see, unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector knew he was a sinner. No one had to point out his sin because he was fully aware of it. It says… He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast. Luke 18:13 He beats his chest. In the Middle East, women occasionally beat their chests at particularly tragic funerals. In the Bible Luke tells us that people beat their chests when Jesus was crucified.1 But here, during a simple prayer, this man beats his chest which tells us that he is that moved at the tragedy of his sin and how it has separated him from God. Have you ever had a moment when you realized the enormity of your sin…how un-like God you were…and how God had every right to distance himself from you? You knew he didn’t owe you anything. And had every right to turn his back on you? Not that God would do that but what I’m saying is that you felt the weight of your sin as if that were to happen. That’s what this man was feeling. So he prays… God, have mercy on me, a [the] sinner. Luke 18:13 The text doesn’t really say “a sinner” it says “the sinner”. The NIV just decided “a sinner” sounded better but it loses a little meaning. To say “a sinner” means that he sees himself as just one of many. But to say that he is “the sinner” means that he isn’t comparing himself to anyone else. He’s “the” sinner. He owns who he is. Maybe he even acknowledges the prayer of the Pharisee. “I’m the sinner the Pharisee is talking about.” Now, it’s interesting to note here that Jesus didn’t say that the man was repenting…that he was changing his ways. His was just sick about his sin. Maybe he felt like he couldn’t change. Maybe he felt terrible that he was a tax collector…he knew it was the wrong thing to do…but he didn’t know any other way to support his family. He felt trapped. Have you ever been in a situation like that where you hated your life? You wanted to change your way but you didn’t know how. So you told God how sorry you were but you kept doing what you were doing because you didn’t know what else to do. I think of poor people that rob to feed their family. They know it’s wrong but they also don’t want to let their family go hungry. Or I think of a job that I used to have. I was working for a company that I felt was unethical. I wanted to quit but I didn’t have any other source of income so I stayed on, trusting that God would show me a way out. I felt this huge tension between pleasing God and survival.

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Luke 23:48

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So, because of this tension, the tax collector prays for mercy. He can’t even boast about his changing his ways. His only hope is God’s mercy. Now, the word for mercy here isn’t the common word that’s typically used. The typical word just means compassion. But the word for mercy that he uses here has much more meaning. He uses the word for atonement. And that makes sense in this context because as the tax collector stands watching the lamb being sacrificed he cries out, “Oh Lord, make an atonement for me, THE sinner!” He realizes that in that moment the only hope he has to be cleansed of his sin and be restored to God is if God does something for him because the tax collector is incapable of doing anything for himself. He needs more than mere compassion. He needs atonement. He needs someone else to offer a sacrifice for his sin because he can’t. And that’s what atonement is… God doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves. God paying the price of our sins…taking responsibility for our sin. It’s a gift. It’s not earned. You don’t have to jump through any hoops for it. All you have to do is receive it. Now imagine being one of the religious men listening to this story. They are probably smirking at the thought of the tax collector asking God for mercy. What a joke. Everyone knew what gained favor with God…it was their performance. The lambs were sacrificed for people that deserved it, not for good-for-nothing’s like the tax collector. So imagine their shock when Jesus closes out the story with this comment… I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. Luke 18:14 After these men recovered from their shock they must have been seething mad because no one had ever discounted them like this before…at least to their face. To imply that they were not justified before God went against everything that they had been taught. Who was he to flip the scales and embarrass them by saying that a tax collector was more pleasing to God than they were? To be justified means to be made right with God. Or another word for justified is to be made righteous. The tax collector was rewarded with righteousness – that is, right standing with Godbecause his faith was in God and not himself. So faith, not performance, is rewarded with righteousness. But the Pharisee, the guy with stellar, four star performance, was rejected. Why? Because his confidence was in himself, not God. Jesus said… For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:14 You see, God didn’t require the tax collector to live a perfect life in order to be justified. For all we know, that man went back to the same defeating life of sin that he came with. But what made him find favor with God was his attitude. He hated his sin. He didn’t justify it. He didn’t excuse it or minimize it or ask others to do the same. He wanted to be right with God. He just didn’t know what to do about it.
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If you are here today and want a relationship with God the good news is that you don’t have to do anything to earn God’s acceptance. You don’t need to have your act together. He accepts you the way you are. Some of you need to hear that because you feel like this tax collector. You feel like you’ve got nothing to offer God. Didn’t Jesus say… Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are the poor in spirit…the broken down, messed up, up-to-my-eyeballs in sin and failure, can’t do it right people of this world. Theirs is the kingdom of God. No one’s going to be kept from a relationship with God because of their failure. What keeps you from God is failing to open the gift of faith that he’s offered to you. Now, I should point out something about this gift. I like to think of it as in invitation to relationship…like an engagement ring. Imagine a woman receiving an engagement ring and then walking away from the man to enjoy her ring all alone. That betrays the intention of the gift, doesn’t it? In the same way, God doesn’t offer this gift just so you can pocket the gift and think you have a ticket to heaven. The gift of faith is an invitation to a life-long relationship with God. So if you don’t want that then don’t open the gift. But if that’s what you’ve been looking for then tear it open! There’s nothing stopping you. Do it today before you leave this place. This is good news, isn’t it? But this is where Peter’s letter comes into play because…the good news doesn’t stop here. There’s more. The good news doesn’t stop with being accepted by God. Jesus accepts you just the way you are but he doesn’t leave you that way. He starts to change you into his likeness. You see, righteousness isn’t gained by right behavior but right behavior starts to flow from people that are made righteous. When you turn your life over to God, God plants a seed in your heart that starts to change you from the inside out. And that seed grows into a plant that eventually produces fruit in you – godly character – character that you never thought you were capable of growing. That’s what Peter wants us to know. And that’s what I’m going to talk about next week back in Peter’s letter. Prayer…Jesus, thank you for all that you did to make the gift of faith possible. There are people here today that haven’t opened your gift for various reasons. I ask that they would now have the insight they need to open that gift. Help them to accept your invitation to a life-long relationship and invite your Spirit to come into their life and fill them up to live the life that you created them for. Amen

Going Deeper Use the following questions for personal reflection or to discuss with your family, friends and small group. 1. What are some gifts that you can remember opening and really enjoying? What did you do to earn those gifts? 2. How do we try to "pay" for our gifts. 3. How do some people try to pay God for their salvation?
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4. Read 2 Peter 1:5-7. What is the danger in lists like this in the hands of religious people? unreligious people? Share any examples you have. 5. Now read Luke 18:9-14. Jesus told a shocking story to make a point. What's the point? (Confer Ephesians 1:8,9 and Romans 3:20-24) 6. Read Matthew 23:25-28 . Contrast what Jesus sees in the Pharisees with what they see in themselves. 7. Read Luke 18:15-18. How does this story support the story about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? 8. As we prepare to talk about godly character in 2 Peter 1:5-7 we need to have the right perspective. What is a healthy balanced perspective on the role of godly character and our salvation?

Something’s Missing Part 4: Power, Knowledge & Effort By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 10.25.09

Lisa and I have three children. We dedicated them all a long time ago! I got to spend a few days with my son recently. I flew down to Phoenix where he lives and then we drove up to hike the Grand Canyon for a day. We had a great time. But when I came home I had this nagging feeling that something was missing. You know, there’s something in me that expects to see all three of my kids at the same time. I’ll probably always feel that. So seeing Nathaniel was good but it made me really miss my two daughters. They were what was missing in my life. I mention that just to remind us of what it feels like to be missing something. When something’s missing the world isn’t quite right and you do what you can to make it right. That’s why I called my current sermon series “Something’s Missing” because we are looking at a letter that the apostle Peter sent to the church. He had this nagging feeling that something was missing from the church and so before he died he made sure to tell them to add what that was. …make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 Whenever you see a list like this you can bet that the opposite was happening. So, instead of goodness and godliness there was immorality. Instead of knowledge there was ignorance of the truth (remember that false teachers were leading people astray). Instead of self-control there was a “church gone wild” atmosphere. Instead of perseverance in the face of suffering people were giving up on their faith and instead of love there was selfishness.
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So Peter tells them… Come on guys…don’t you see? something’s missing. Jesus called you to turn from sin…not run toward it. You can do better than this. And so he calls them to add seven virtues to their faith. Like I said last week, these virtues won’t make them more acceptable to Jesus. He’s not telling them to jump through seven hoops in order to be accepted by God. It’s their faith in Jesus that makes them acceptable. But if they add these seven virtues to their faith it will make them more effective for God – they’ll be a better witness. Now these virtues can be a bit daunting, can’t they? I mean, sometimes we read lists like this and they seem so impossible that we don’t even take it seriously. We just keep reading until we find something more doable. But I want to show you three things this morning that Peter says will help you to add these seven virtues to your life and develop godly character. Let’s start in verse three … 1. We need God’s power to develop godly character. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3 The first thing we need is God’s power. God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Godliness simply means a life devoted to God. God’s power has given you everything you need to live a life devoted to God. I wonder if you believe that this morning. So often people say, “Oh, I can’t do that. I’m not like that.” But Peter says you can. God has given you what everything you need. The Greek word for power is “dunamis”. That’s where we get the word for dynamite. God’s dunamis is a power that is able to affect change in us. Dynamite does a pretty good job of affecting change, wouldn’t you say? God’s dunamis does the same thing. Every person who has asked Jesus to come and live in their heart has the dunamis of God. It’s been given to you. You don’t have to work to get it. You don’t have to read the Bible to get it. You don’t have to go to church to get it. You have it if you are God’s child. It came when the Holy Spirit came into your life. Peter wants you to know this. He’s trying to help us put two and two together spiritually. If we have God’s power living inside of us then it only makes sense that we have the ability to live a life that reflects the nature of the God. Now, you might be saying…I don’t get it. I haven’t seen this power in my life. I struggle to live the Christian life. It’s a good week for me spiritually if I just make it on Sunday. But after that I don’t do so well. Maybe you can relate to that. Well, there might be a lot of reasons why you are experiencing that kind of power disconnect. But this morning I’m just going to give you Peter’s answer why that might be. Peter’s word might raise a lot of questions for you. But let’s just see what we can learn.
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So, the first thing we need to develop godly character is power…God’s power. 2. We need true knowledge to develop godly character. The second thing we need is true knowledge. Peter says His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us… We gain this power through or “because of” our knowledge of Jesus. The word for knowledge here isn’t a generic, basic knowledge. It’s a special word that means true or precise knowledge. It’s a word that means accurate or intimate knowledge of Jesus. How would you rate your knowledge of Jesus? Would you say it’s a basic knowledge or an intimate knowledge? Peter tells us that an intimate knowledge of Jesus gives us what we need for godliness. Or, to put it in the negative, if you have a deficient understanding of Jesus and what he can do for you then you won’t get the same benefit as someone who as a full understanding. Now, Peter is giving us a principle that is obvious. We all understand this principle; In order to benefit from something you have to first know about it. Right? I was telling a friend of mine the other day about one of my favorite restaurants in Hudson, it’s called The Nova, and he said, I thought I had been to every good restaurant in Hudson. I didn’t know about that one. You see, he never enjoyed that restaurant simply because he didn’t know about it. He had general knowledge of Hudson restaurants. But he didn’t have precise knowledge about all the restaurants. But now that he knows about it he can enjoy it. Simple principle, right? But so easily ignored. You see, we assume that little knowledge gets the same benefit as full knowledge. We think that our limited knowledge of Jesus is good enough to live the Christian life. We assume that there’s not that much to know. But that’s wrong. There’s a lot to know about Jesus and the more you know the more you benefit. And the flip side of that is… you can’t benefit from something if you don’t know it’s out there. And so you can’t experience godliness if you don’t know that God’s power has given you everything you need to obtain it. So true knowledge is very important. That’s why we need to add it to our faith. Now, there are two things in this sentence that give us deeper knowledge of Jesus. The first thing is that his power gives us everything we need for godliness. That’s important to know. And maybe you that’s new information for you today. But the second thing we need to know is that Jesus is full of glory and goodness. You might say…glory and goodness….what’s important about that? Well, you have to remember that the false teachers were teaching a lower view of Jesus. They may not have even considered Jesus to be God. So let’s look at the latter part of this verse. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
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It says that Jesus calls us by HIS OWN glory and goodness. That means he possesses both glory and goodness. Glory means the manifestation of greatness. Down in verse 17 Peter reminds us that he saw the glory of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. I mentioned that story a few weeks back but Jesus was praying and all of a sudden he was surrounded by a blinding light revealing the glory of God. Peter was there and I think it made a lasting impression on him. He realized that he wasn’t dealing with just some insightful teacher. He was dealing with God in the flesh and Peter wants us to know that about Jesus, that he was the God of glory. He also wants us to know that Jesus is full of goodness. The word “goodness” literally means “moral excellence” or “moral purity”. Peter is making sure that we fully grasp who Jesus is. He is not just the best person humanly possible. Jesus is God and therefore he is the essence of everything that is good and right and just and true. Now, if Jesus is full of glory and goodness it only makes sense that we are called to be like him. I mean, if you follow Tiger Woods, you’re golf game is going to improve. If you follow Bill Gates your business wisdom will improve. If you were still able to spend time with Mother Teresa your compassion would improve. We are influenced to become like whomever we follow. So Peter is saying…look, Jesus is full of glory and goodness… so it should come as no surprise that you’ve been given everything you need for godliness. So, there’s an expectation that you’ll gradually become more and more like Jesus. Does that make sense? Peter is purposely contradicting the false teachers of that day. A couple weeks ago we looked at the false teaching that Peter was trying to correct. The false teachers were saying that you can follow Jesus and live any kind of life you want. Go ahead and sin. Jesus doesn’t care. So Peter is speaking to that and saying… Wait a minute. Jesus is full of glory and goodness and so we should add that to our faith too. How does it feel to know that you’ve been called to glory and goodness? A little intimidating? Maybe up to now you just thought you were called to sit in a meeting once a week on Sunday. Or does it sound like good news? I hope it sounds like good news. If it doesn’t sound like good news then either I’m teaching it wrong or you are hearing it wrong. You see, Peter is telling us that we don’t have to let sin jerk us around. We don’t have to feel helpless in the face of temptation. We’ve got power over things like pornography. We’ve got power over run away anger. We don’t have to let food or alcohol control us. We have the power to control them. If you have received the gift of faith that I talked about last week…if you have the Spirit of God living inside of you…then God’s power has given you everything you need for godliness. I think we often shrink back from talking about glory and goodness because we are afraid that someone might feel judged or shamed so we focus on God’s love and acceptance. But I think we’ve got the wrong idea about God’slove for us. We have interpreted his love as accepting us unconditionally. Now, that’s true…but that’s only half of it.
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What kind of love accepts someone unconditionally but allows them to stay the same? I mean, if you come to me poor and I say that I love you just the way you are… that’s nice, but don’t you hope that I’ll help you out of your poverty? I don’t think you’d feel judged about your being poor if I talked about you helping you step out of poverty. I think you’d feel encouraged that someone is finally willing to help you out. Or, how about this? If you come to me sick and I tell you that I accept you unconditionally…that’s great, but don’t you hope that I’ll help you recover? I don’t think you’ll feel judged if I talk to you about your sickness and how you can be healed. I think you’d be thrilled that someone believes that your life can be better. But then why is it, when we change to the topic of morality, that we are often afraid to talk about helping people? We accept them unconditionally but we never tell them about how God wants to help them move from an immoral life to a moral one. But true love does more than accept. True love transforms. Jesus accepts us just the way we are but he doesn’t leave us that way. Listen to what Paul tells a church… God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying [lifechanging, cleansing] work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 I’m just afraid that we have a very human understanding of God’s love. Imagine sending your child to a prestigious school that accepted students no matter what their grade point average was. That would be great. But then imagine that they never expected anything from your child. They didn’t expect them to attend class. They didn’t expect them to study or to graduate and they never offered any help in improving academically. So you ask them why that is and they say, Well, we don’t want your child to feel condemned. They are a D student and we don’t want to shame them but putting any expectations on them. We just want to love them the way they are. How would you feel about that? I think you’d be outraged. You’d be in an uproar. You’d call the Better Business Bureau and contact 60 Minutes to investigate. Yet that’s exactly how some people think Jesus feels about his followers. He loves us so much…accepting us just the way we are…that he never does anything to change us. He just lets us stay in our sin. What kind of God is that? Who wants to follow a God that has no interest in making us better people? Peter wants us to know that that’s NOT who Jesus is. True Knowledge tells us that Jesus is full of glory and goodness and he calls us to the same. 3. We need every effort to develop godly character. The third thing that will help us develop godly character is found in verse five…just before it lists out the seven virtues. It says… …make every effort to add to your faith… 2 Peter 1:5 This phrase “make every effort” means to come along side of someone to work together. And it means to work with a sense of urgency, not half-heartedly. I really like how this phrase strikes a
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balance between what God does and what we do. Some people like to say that God does it all. We don’t have to do anything. But that just makes for very passive people who usually never change. Others act as if God is merely watching us jump through hoops trying to please him. But that just makes for religious people. But Peter says that God comes with the dynamite and we strike the match that lights the fuse. God gives us everything we need for godliness but we have to take what’s been given and live it out. It’s not all God. It’s not all you. It’s you and God working together. I like that. That’s sounds like a relationship to me. And that’s what God wants from all of us…a working relationship. As we take a look at these seven virtues over the next few weeks and what it takes to develop godly character we need to keep these three things in mind. We need God’s power, we need true knowledge of Jesus and we need to make every effort to see these virtues become a reality in our lives. Prayer: Thank you Father for giving us everything we need for godliness. You’ve called us to glory and goodness. Help us to claim that calling and live it out.

Going Deeper Use the following questions for personal reflection or to discuss with family, friends and your small group. 1. Remy used the analogy of a school accepting people unconditionally but with the expectation of change. Can you think of other organizations that do the same? Can you think of organizations that accept people with no expectation of change? 2. What has happened that has caused some people to believe that connecting to Jesus and/or the church has nothing to do with change? 3. Have you seen a change in your life since making a connection with Jesus or the church? Or, maybe you've experienced some frustration in not being able to change. If comfortable, share your thoughts with your group. 4. Remy talked about how "true knowledge" of Jesus helps us change. What is it about his glory and goodness that helps us change? Are there others things you know about Jesus that help you to change? 5. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 . Note the use of the word "through". How does this word help us understand God's goal of sharing his glory with us? 6. Read 2 Peter 1:3-5. Peter mentions the word "given" twice yet he also tells us to "make every effort". Is this a contradiction? Why or why not? 7. Read 1 Corinthians 10:31. How does our study broaden your understanding of this verse? 8. Consider these verses; 2 Corinthians 3:18, Colossians 1:27, Romans 9:23, 1 Peter 2:9 if there's time.

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Something’s Missing Part 5…Moral Excellence By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 11.1.09

There’s been a lot of scandal in the news over the last year…especially financial scandal. Last week on the TV show 60 Minutes (10.25.09 broadcast) they featured an attorney by the name of Mark Dreier2 who was recently indicted for stealing $400 million dollars in a securities fraud. I thought we’d take a look at him today for some teaching points. It was interested to learn how smart this guy was. He didn’t need to steal to get ahead. Dreier was educated at both Harvard and Yale law schools and some judges said that he was the best attorney that they had ever had in their court room. But in his interview Dreier admitted that he had an ambition that he needed to feed. He wanted to become as successful as he believed he deserved to be. Did you hear the pride in that statement? …as successful as he believed he deserved to be. So he aggressively grew his law practice and lived the good life with numerous homes, beach houses and toys, including an 18 million dollar yacht. But he couldn’t afford the lifestyle that he thought he deserved so to fund all this he created an investment fund. The only problem was, it was fake. It didn’t really exist, except on paper. He just collected money from everyone without ever investing it until he was caught. Reflecting on his crime he said that when you start doing something that you know is wrong you just go ahead and hope you can dig your way out of it. But he said he couldn’t. He just kept getting in deeper and deeper, like quicksand. Every time he stole money he thought it would be the last time. But it never was. And to make things worse, the fame and the good life were intoxicating. When asked how he could deceive and betray so many people he said… I discovered once you cross a gray line it’s much easier to cross a black line. Vanity Fair, November 2009 In other words, once he started down the slippery slope of compromising his morals it got easier and easier to do the wrong thing. He said he wished he could say that he winced every time he lied but he didn’t. When asked why he concocted his investment fraud he said, I wanted to just, well, appease myself. Well, not appease myself. Gratify myself … I was very, very caught up in seeing the criteria of success in terms of professional and financial achievement, which I think was a big part of the problem. But I thought it would make me happy. And I wanted to be happy again. Vanity Fair, November 2009 He just wanted to be happy. Well, you can’t blame him for that. We all want to be happy don’t we? But his ambition didn’t lead him to happiness, did it? It was just the opposite. His ambition led him to shame and now he’s lost everything. He’ll be in prison the twenty years.
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Vanity Fair also had an extensive interview and article with Dreier in their November 2009 issue.

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I’d imagine that there are more than a few of us here who can relate to what he’s saying. You see, Dreier isn’t some alien dropped from Mars. He’s not talking about something that we can’t relate to. His desires for happiness and success are a part of what it means to be human. But Dreier’s problem was he couldn’t stop himself. There were no checks and balances in his life. He was like a runaway train and the only way run away trains stop is when they leave the tracks. Some of you know what that’s all about. You see, something was missing in Dreier’s life. He was missing what the Bible calls “moral excellence”. Moral excellence is the compass that guides our decision making. It’s the conscience that is able to apply self-control to your ambition. Without moral excellence it’s only a matter of time before you crash and burn. But Dreier was missing something besides moral excellence. He was missing self-awareness and an understanding of his own dark side. Do you have a good understanding of your dark side? You see, we may not like to admit it, but we all have a dark side and we are all capable of being a Mark Dreier. It’s hard wired into our DNA. And if we are ignorant of that fact and take no precautions against it we are an accident waiting to happen. My guess is that God brought some of you here today because you are an accident waiting to happen and he wants to use me to warn you. I mention this story because we are in the middle of a series called, “Something’s Missing”. It’s a look at a letter in the Bible that was written by the apostle Peter to the church. In fact, you might want to turn there right now. Peter was concerned about where the church was headed because he noticed that something was missing in their character. The church had been listening to false teachers… teachers that said you can follow Jesus and live however you want to live. And to Peter’s horror the church started to follow the lifestyle of these false teachers which consisted of sexual immorality and greed as well as other things I’m sure. And so Peter writes the church and challenges them to add what’s missing to their faith… starting with the most basic or obvious quality, moral excellence, plus six more virtues ending with love, the quality that most reflects the nature of God. As I read Peter’s letter I hear echoes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Peter was on the mountain the day that Jesus laid out his vision for a new people of God and he heard Jesus say these words… Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 You see, Jesus’ passion and Peter’s passion was for God’s people to live lives that drew attention to how great God is. I mean…if you really want to boil things down…that’s what Jesus and Peter and the Bible are all trying to get us to do…to put God at the center of everything we do and make his name great. Life isn’t about making OUR name great. That was Marc Dreier’s big mistake. Life is about making God’s name great. God gave Dreier an incredible amount of talent and intelligence to make HIS name great and Dreier shot the whole wad on making himself
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great. And when we finally understand that life is about making God’s name great we are way ahead of the game. That’s when life finally starts to make sense. Peter says we can help to make God’s name great by adding moral excellence to our faith. And the good news is that God helps us to do that. Let’s look at verse 4… [God] has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:4 This is an incredible promise. God offers to share with us his divine nature. I hope you appreciate what he’s saying. If you were here last week I had you imagine what it would be like to follow Tiger Woods or Bill Gates or Mother Teresa. I said that anyone who followed one of these people would be bound to improve at least a little. My point was that if you are truly following Jesus that you will start to take on some of his qualities. As I thought about that analogy I realized that it probably didn’t work for some of you. Some of you were probably pushing back in your mind, thinking… No Remy…you don’t understand…it doesn’t matter how much time I spent with Tiger Woods - I would never become a better golfer…I have zero talent. Or you may have thought… No Remy…I am so bad at handling my finances that even if I spent every day with Bill Gates I’d still be in debt. And, yeah, if you thought that, you’re probably right. Just because you spend time with someone doesn’t mean they’ll rub off on you. So here’s the NEW and IMPROVED version of this analogy. What if Tiger Woods, Bill Gates and Mother Teresa were able to share with you their nature? What if Tiger could give you his talent? What if Bill could give you his wisdom? What if Mother Teresa could give you her compassion? Would that change things for you? I bet it would. Why? Because your confidence wouldn’t be in your ability to learn from these people. Suddenly your confidence would be in their ability to work in you. Right? Just imagine the excitement you’d have approaching each shot knowing that Tiger Woods had shared his nature with you. Imagine approaching business decisions knowing that you shared Bill Gates nature. Or imagine walking into situations filled with hurt and pain knowing that Mother Teresa had shared her compassion with you? It changes everything doesn’t it? Well that’s what Peter is telling us here only it’s in regard to God. As followers of Jesus we are able to face moral situations with confidence because we know that God shared his nature with us the minute that Jesus came into our lives. So, this is great news. God has given us the power to live a godly life. But now look at the end of this verse. Peter gives us an insight into our dark side that I think should help us understand the battle that is challenging God’s divine nature in us.
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[God] has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:4 Understanding these words is critical to our being able to add moral excellence to our faith. So, let’s start by looking at the words “evil desire” here. Other translations use the word “lust” or “sinful desires”. The word (epithumos) literally means a hot passion (thumos, the word where we get thermometer or thurmos) that turns on (epi) something of desire. It’s that desire inside of you that’s “gotta have” something and won’t take no for an answer. It’s the ambition that Mark Dreier said needed to be fed. Peter calls it evil desire. Peter’s ministry buddy was the apostle James and James also talked about the power of evil desires in the letter that we have from him… …each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14,15 Let me map this out for us. Evil Desires + Temptation = Sin >matures> Death. The interesting thing about this verse is that our evil desires are not only what’s tempted but also the tempter. James says that we are tempted by our own desire when it drags us (compels us to come out of a place of protection) to an opportunity to sin. It’s like our desires go out and look for ways to be tempted. It works against us coming and going. And here’s the bad news; we’ve all got evil desires. I don’t care who you are or what church you attend or how much you read the Bible. If you have a pulse you have evil desires. And those desires will always have an opportunity to become a reality. You can count on that. It may not be today or tomorrow but for every evil desire there is an opportunity waiting in the wings. James says that when you choose to engage your desire you become pregnant with sin. That’s an interesting analogy. Pregnancy is full of excitement and anticipation isn’t it? When sin is conceived we are often full of excitement and anticipation, aren’t we? We probably wouldn’t want to admit it. But it’s true. Even after sin is birthed things still might seem good. We continue to justify it and tell others that it’s not really sin. So we continue in it. But as sin matures we see it’s true nature, like a fruit tree that finally bears fruit and revels what kind of tree it really is, and it’s fruit is death. I think Mark Dreier would agree with that. He was excited at the thought of all the happiness that wealth and fame would bring him. People around him knew that he was up to know good but he was convinced that he was merely doing what successful people do. But when his sin gave birth and matured it destroyed his life. It’s no wonder that Peter says this in another letter… Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11

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You see Peter understood these desires for what they are. They aren’t some harmless little thing that have no impact on us. They are trouble waiting to happen. Left to yourself these desires will take you down. That’s why James says that sin gives birth to death. Now, some of you might say, “My sin sure didn’t feel like death to me! In fact, it felt pretty good.” Well, sin – in the moment – often does feel good. That’s why it’s so tempting. We want the immediate gratification. But that’s why the Bible is constantly warning us about our desires especially because they are so deceptive. They feel so natural. I mean, how can anything that feels so good be wrong? Right? Here’s the logic that we use; If I feel something then it’s natural. If it’s natural then God gave it to me and if God gave it to me then it must be good and he can’t judge me for acting on my desire. And so, when you crave that third brownie it’s only natural. You were born with that craving, right? Or when you can make a couple hundred extra bucks it feels natural, even if you had to be a little dishonest to get it. Or when your boyfriend or girlfriend turns on the charm, turns down the lights and turns up the music… sleeping with him or her is only natural. I mean, come on. It’s only natural. That’s the excuse that we’ve all used at one time or another, haven’t we? But that logic is what had Peter so concerned with the church. Instead of moral excellence he saw moral failure and a church full of moral failure doesn’t give God the glory that he deserves. Now, if you aren’t interested in living your life in a way that glorifies God, then you are off the hook today. This sermon isn’t for you. You can pass on everything I’m saying. But I hope that’s what you want. I trust that’s what you want. You want to live your life in a way that honors God and shows people how great he is. If the Spirit of God is living inside of you that’s what he is longing to see happen in your life. Well, Peter has more to say about our evil desires because it says here that evil desires cause something. Peter tells us that we have escaped the corruption of the world caused by evil desires. Now, this might be new information to you; evil desires cause the corruption of the world. That’s a pretty big statement to make. It represents a very distinct world view. The word corruption here literally means to thoroughly decay…like a dead body that decomposes into dust. Peter is telling us that evil desires ultimately lead to a decay that not only affects the individual but society as a whole. And the Bible tells us that because of that decay the world is passing away…it’s under judgment and it all started with evil desires. So maybe you can understand why Peter is so upset with the false teachers letting people think that it’s okay to jump back into that world of sin. It’s like he’s saying…DON’T YOU GET IT????? Jesus saved you out of a decaying world. Don’t go back to it! Peter has this crystal clear picture of things few of us see. He sees a world that is in decay and under judgment. He sees Jesus rescuing people from this decay and setting them free to live a new life. But what’s got him so concerned is some Christians are going back to the lifestyles that led to corruption. In fact, Peter is so alarmed that he gives a vivid picture of how he sees Christians who go back to their old lifestyle…
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Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." 2 Peter 2:22 That’s a nice little visual for you isn’t it? But Peter uses this kind of shocking imagery to get people to visualize and understand what he’s saying and how important it is. If we say that Jesus has saved us from corruption then how can we go back and follow the same desires that lead to corruption? So, maybe you are sitting here today and saying, I never thought about life like that. Peter’s describing me. When I turned to Jesus I thought everything would change but I’m living the same life I lived before…only now I’m more religious..I go to church now and then. But to be honest, I feel like a hypocrite. So what do I do? How do I escape the grasp of my sinful nature and add moral excellence to my faith so I can start to glorify God and not myself? Well, let me use the words of the apostles to answer this question. First, Turn to Jesus. In chapter two of his letter Peter says… they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… 2 Peter 2:20 You escape the corruption I talked about when you turn to Jesus. That’s where it all starts. Second, remember…you’ve got the power. If you edit down verses three and four they read like this… His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness … so that … you may participate in the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:3,4 Put these verses wherever you need to to remember you’ve got the power. When Jesus comes to live inside of you he brings with him a power that you’ve never had before…power to live a new life. But that power isn’t activated until you do the third thing and that is… Commit yourself to honoring God, not yourself. I want to share two verses with you that I hope you’ll read and reread and memorize so they eventually become a part of you. Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 In a world where it’s cool to be selfish this is a radical, counter-cultural command. But if you want to add moral excellence to your faith you’re going to have to decide what’s most important to you…honoring God or pursuing happiness? Now, just to be clear, these two things don’t have to be in isolation from each other. It’s not one or the other. If you pursue honoring God you will be happy or blessed as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. But if you pursue happiness you won’t be honoring God. This next verse is one that has guided me through many decisions over the past 30 years. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19,20
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Once you realize that you are not your own, you gain a lot of clarity about life decisions. When your life is not your own you eliminate a lot of options that you used to have. And finally, let your friends hold you accountable. I just had a little experience with the power of accountability. Lisa left town to visit a friend for 30 hours. Now, when Lisa is with me, I’m pretty neat. She might not think so but I do pretty well. But I was amazed at what happened to our house the minute she left. I totally reverted to my normal messy self. I left a wake of stuff wherever I went. When I made food I left the food out. Then I left a pile of dishes. I left books and magazines and newspapers wherever I finished reading them and I left the bed unmade when I got up in the morning. In just a matter of hours the house was in complete disarray. What happened? I lost my accountability partner! Just Lisa’s presence makes me a neater person. And the same is true when it comes to moral excellence. I don’t think we can live a life of moral excellence in isolation. We need to be in a community of sinners that are all working together to encourage each other. I like what Paul wrote the church in Galatia… Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1 I’m not going to kid you…some of the things we struggle with are tough. When it comes to issues related to sex and addictions, we are talking about powerful desires. It’s not just a matter of reading your Bible and praying more. Like Peter said…you need to make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith. Part of that effort is coming clean with other believers and letting them hold you accountable. And so I hope you will seek out people to share your struggles with. Join a small group. Celebrate Recovery meets every Monday night and is designed specifically to help people overcome their hurts, habits and hang-ups. Well, I hope this helps. I believe that today can be a turning point for some of you today. You might want to even write down the date in your Bible or journal. My guess is that God’s been talking to many of you already and he’s using me to get you to make the change. So let me pray for you. Prayer: Jesus…I think deep down we all want to glorify you. We were made to glorify you. And I thank you that you have shared your nature with all of us here who have put our trust in you. Now help us to make the big decision to honor you in all that we do. You’ve given us moral excellence now help us to find the courage to walk in it.

Going Deeper Use the following questions for personal reflection or to discuss with family, friends and your small group. 1. Remy mentioned Mark Dreier's ponzi scheme. Can you think of other newsmakers who let
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their desire for happiness bring them to ruin? 2. If you care to share...was there a time when your desire for "happiness" got you into trouble? 3. Both apostles Peter and James had a strong view of sin and it's impact on our lives. Read...
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James 1:13,14 2 Peter 1:4, 2:18,19 1 Peter 2:11 What do you learn about sinful desires from these verses?

4. The apostle Paul believed the same about sin. What do you learn about sinful desires from these verses?
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Ephesians 2:3 1 Timothy 6:9 Titus 3:3 2 Timothy 4:3

5. Paul also had a strong idea of how to overcome our sinful desires. Read the following and note his solutions...
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Galatians 2:20 Galatians 5:16, 24 Ephesians 4:22 Colossians 3:5

6. Review the four things Remy said we can do to add moral excellence to our lives. Which one do you think will help you the most?

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Somethings Missing Part 6 – Self-control and Perseverance By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 11.08.09

My dad often did the grocery shopping for my family. He told me once about a time when he was in the checkout line behind a woman and her child. The child was pestering his mom for a piece of candy and so the mom finally gave in and told her son to pick a piece. But, as is often the case, the boy couldn’t decide…too many choices, too little time. So he’d pick up one piece and then put it back and then pick another piece and put it back. He asked if he could have two pieces and mom said no. So he’d go back to deliberating. Plus his mom only added to his dilemma. She kept suggesting more alternatives…maybe you’d like a Nutgoodie. Or, Ooh, I really like Three Musketeers. Have you ever had one of those? Well, my dad was not known for his patience. He was a decision maker and he wanted everyone around him to make decisions. You didn’t waffle around my dad because he didn’t have time for it. So this little mother/son episode was driving him crazy. He bit his tongue as long as he could and he finally said, “Lady, will you just pick a candy bar and check out?” I’m not sure but he might have added a descriptive word or two to the candy bar…just pick a blankety blank candy bar! Needless to say the woman was not happy. She grabbed a candybar and left in a huff. Not one of my dad’s finer moments. You see, my dad was missing something that morning…actually a couple things; he was missing self-control and perseverance. Self-control would have given him the ability to keep his mouth shut and perseverance would have given him the ability to wait patiently in spite of this child’s indecision. Maybe you can relate. We can probably all use a little more self-control and perseverance. Well, that’s what I want to talk about this morning; self-control and perseverance. Today is day six in an eight week study of a letter that the apostle Peter sent to the church. I’ve called this series “Something’s Missing” because the church was missing several things 2000 years ago and I have a hunch that we are still missing these things today. Open your Bibles to 2 Peter. Peter said that they were missing a basic sense of morality. They were living fast and loose, no different than before they encountered Jesus. Plus, as a result of listening to false teachers, they were missing a true knowledge of Jesus. I’ve already talked about those two things. But they
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were also missing self-control and the ability to persevere, plus a few more things. This is how he put it… …make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:6,7 Now, these aren’t seven random virtues. There’s a progression in these qualities. You see, Peter’s goal for us as a church is to love like Jesus. Our job is to represent Jesus on earth…to show the world the same love that Jesus showed. But in order for us to do that we need a few things. First, we need to clean up our lives. We can’t show God’s love if we spend our days chasing sin like we did in the old days. But in order to clean up our lives we need to learn self-control and perseverance. And when we develop self-control and perseverance we are finally free to live a life of godliness, kindness and love. Love is the goal here. Peter wants to move us to love like Jesus. That’s what this letter is all about. So let’s see what we can learn about self-control and perseverance so we can move on to even greater things. I want to go back to the quote from James that I referred to last week. …each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14,15 If we want to add love to our faith we have to get a handle on this thing called sin because sin stands in the way of love. James says it all starts inside of us with something called evil desires. We took a close look at what evil desires are last week. And those desires, if left unchecked, will take us down paths that we don’t really want to go leaving us with a life filled with regret. Now, let’s look at a couple more words here to fully understand what happens when we are tempted. James says that our evil desires “drag us away”. The picture that he’s using here is a hunting scene. The word for “dragged away” is literally “drawn out”. It says we are drawn out and enticed. The word for “entice” means to decoy or “deceive with bait in order to capture”. It’s the idea that bait has been placed in an open spot in hopes of drawing out or luring an animal from its place of safety and into a vulnerable place where it can be shot or trapped. I think that’s a great picture to have in your mind when you feel tempted to do something you know is wrong. The temptation is just bait trying to pull you away from pleasing God. Thankfully, God doesn’t expect you to fight temptation on your own. Peter tells us that… God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness,…so that we might become partakers of his divine nature. 2 Peter 1:3,4
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That means that he’s give us the power to resist temptation. That’s what self-control is. The ability to resist temptation…or to not take the bait. In fact, the Bible specifically tells us that selfcontrol is part of the nature of God that his Spirit shares with us. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22,23 When you invite Jesus into your life he sends his Spirit to live inside of you and give you the power to say no to your evil desires that will take you down the wrong path. Maybe you are looking for that kind of power. Maybe that’s what brought you here today because you realize that you need something more that what you’ve got to fight temptation. Well, I want to tell you a story of someone who had the power to fight temptation. You may have heard about him. His story is found in the book of Genesis but his story has also been told on Broadway. His name is Joseph. Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob. He was the son that was given the coat of many colors by his father and hated by his brothers. In fact, they hated him so much they sold him into slavery. He eventually ended up in Egypt as a servant in the home of a man by the name of Potiphar. That’s where we pick up the story… The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Genesis 39:5,6 I think Joseph must have been a young man of self-control, and I say that because, if you read his whole story, Jacob and the jailer and Pharoah all saw something in Joseph that made them willing to entrust him with everything. I think they saw that he had self-control. And here Potiphar could see that Joseph was a man of principle who took responsibility for what was under his care and so he too entrusted him with everything he had. But unfortunately, Potiphar’s wife didn’t have the same level of self-control. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!" Genesis 39:6-7 We don’t know what her problem was. Was Potiphar neglecting her? Or beating her? Was she bored? It doesn’t say. But she was done being good. She just wanted to be happy. And having this young man around the house was just too much temptation for her to handle. It kind of sounds like an episode from Desperate Housewives, doesn’t it? This woman was willing to trade a few minutes of happiness for a life of regret. She was so desperate for touch or attention or just the thrill of the moment she left her place of moral safety and took the bait. At least she wanted to. She thought she had an easy target. Here’s a young man in the prime of his sexual strength. Joseph was about 17. Surely he wouldn’t turn her down. But he refused

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He what! He refused. How can that be? He had every reason in the world to not refuse. I mean, think about the tough life he had; he lost his mom…she died giving birth to his younger brother. He’s separated from his father. His brothers hated him. They left him for dead in the bottom of a well. He was sold into slavery. And now he’s all alone in a foreign country. He had every excuse in the book…not to mention the raging hormones of a teenager. Who wouldn’t understand? Surely God would be quick to forgive. And now this woman offers him what most young men dream of. He gets to be a rock star for the night…potentially many nights. But he refused. These three words define self-control. How could he refuse such a strong temptation with so many good excuses to use? All he really needed was one good reason and this is it; he dedicated his life to honoring God. This is what Joseph told the woman… "With me in charge," … "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" Genesis 39:8-9 You see, Joseph saw what many of us miss, that his behavior was a direct reflection on God. To sleep with this woman was to sin against God and dishonor him. And he wasn’t willing to jeopardize God’s testimony through him or his relationship with God for a few minutes in bed with this woman. Life was so much more to him than just a series of good times. If you think about it, the story of Joseph is really a reversal of the story of Adam and Eve. In the garden of Eden God withheld nothing from Adam and Eve except to eat the fruit of the tree just like nothing was help back from Joseph except Potiphar’s wife. But Adam and Eve couldn’t control themselves. They opted for short term gratification with a long term loss. But not Joseph. You see Joseph wasn’t interested in pursuing happiness. He was interested in pursuing holiness so his life would honor God. But his temptation didn’t end with one event. It never does. And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. Genesis 39:10 Do you see that? He took his self-control to another level. When she stepped up her efforts he stepped up his resistance. Joseph refused to even be in the same room with her. You know, many people do just the opposite. Rather than run as far away from temptation as we can get, we try to see how close to the fire we can get without getting burned. We ask questions like, How far can I go and still be considered a Christian? But that’s not the question that we should be asking. The question that we should be asking is, how can I most honor God? Think about it…if you are a boss, how would you like your employees to say…how little can I work and not get fired? If you are married, how would you like your husband or wife
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to say…how little can I love you without you divorcing me? The thought of people asking these questions makes you sick. But that’s what we often do with God, isn’t it? Too often we ask…How little can I obey God and still call myself a Christian? How little can I obey and still take communion? But Joseph didn’t do that. He got as far away from her as he could. Unfortunately, the woman wouldn’t take no for an answer. When she realized that her bait wasn’t working she got more creative… One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. Genesis 39:11 Well, isn’t that convenient… and a little suspicious. Maybe she told them to take the day or sent them on an errand across town. She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!” Genesis 39:12 You know, it’s at this point many of us would finally give in. The excuses keep mounting up. We say things like, Look, I’ve resisted. I’ve done my best. God only knows. But I can’t keep it up. It’s too hard. Besides… maybe it’s God’s will. Maybe this is a God thing, that’s why she keeps coming for me. Maybe we are soulmates… two tortured souls destined for each other.3 Maybe I should just give in. After all, who will know? No one is here. If God hasn’t created this temptation he will at least understand and forgive me. And besides, if I leave, she can accuse me of rape and they’ll throw me in jail. Surely God wouldn’t want that to happen. So, I pretty match have to sleep with her. Do any of these excuses sound familiar? But that’s not what Joseph did. He wouldn’t listen to the lies of his evil desires. His self-control continued to supply the power necessary to resist temptation. He was willing to persevere in his purity and honor God no matter what the cost, even jail. But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. Sure enough, Potiphar’s why cried “rape” and had him thrown in jail. But Joseph didn’t complain because he wasn’t committed to happiness. He was committed to holiness. He was committed to honoring God even if it meant suffering for the cause. And that’s what perseverance does…it suffers. In fact, the Chinese symbol for perseverance is a knife over a heart, implying the pain of perseverance. Perseverance is the ability to abide in God's will no matter how hard it is. Perseverance is willing to take a beating in order to do the right thing. It is willing to forgo immediate gratification in exchange for a greater reward later. If you know the story, Joseph spent a few years in jail but was eventually given a place of power and God used him to save the country. But the world doesn’t tell us to wait for anything does it? The message we hear is…
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It seems I heard about a governor of a southern state say this recently about his mistress.

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You might not get what you want later so you better take what you can now. Don’t worry about what it does to others. Don’t worry about what God thinks. It’s all about you. But perseverance is willing to wait for God’s reward later rather than cheat and take it now. I like what James says. And let perseverance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4 Perseverance doesn’t rob from you. That’s the lie we believe, isn’t it…that perseverance drains your life… perseverance is a life of depravity? The truth is, perseverance adds to your life. It develops your character and makes you complete. You see, every one of us is a piece of art that God is crafting. But if we keep walking away from the artist how can God ever finish his work in us? How many times have we frustrated God’s work in us by quitting what he asked us to endure? If we want to become people that love well we first have to learn to persevere through hard times. Let me just speak to a few us here before I close. Some of us need to be encouraged to persevere and not give up. Some of us are in jobs or just seasons of life that are unfulfilling. Maybe you are a mom stuck at home with two young children or maybe you graduated from college but you are still stuck working at a fast food restaurant. God wants you to hang in there. Don’t jump to the next thing. Let God do his work in you right where you are at. Learn to abide. Some of you are in marriages that you want to quit on. You’re lonely and angry. And maybe for good reason. But let God do his work in you and in your spouse too. I just had a couple tell me yesterday how they are glad they stuck with their marriage through the hard times because they are so happy now. For those of you that are single people… don’t despise your singleness. God can fulfill you without another person. And don’t cheat your singleness or dishonor God by getting involved sexually. Leave that for marriage. Remember, life isn’t about happiness. It’s about holiness. Some of you might be growing weary of living under financial stress and you are contemplating solutions that don’t honor God. Maybe you are thinking of cheating in some way…maybe on your taxes. Or you are thinking of working a second or third job when you should be home with your family. Or you are thinking of picking up a side job working for someone you know is dishonest. But don’t do it. Wait for a solution that honors God, okay? I realize you might feel like your patience is all used up, that you can’t go on but let me leave you with one last verse. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind…Romans 15:5

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If you don’t have perseverance then ask God for it because he’s got it. God never asks us to do something that he doesn’t give us the strength to do. God gives us self-control and he gives us perseverance. And as you grow in these two virtues you are well on your way to living the life of love that you’ve been called to live. Prayer: Father, we know that you’ve ultimately called us to love. But in order to love we need to grow in self-control and perseverance first. Forgive us for our failings. As we try again help us to not rely on our own strength this time around but rely on your Spirit for these virtues. And if there are people here today that don’t know you and don’t have your Spirit give them the courage to invite you into their lives right now. Lord, help us to desire holiness more than happiness. Amen.

Going Deeper Use the following questions for personal reflection or to discuss with friends, family and/or small group. 1. For you hunters, talk about a time that you lured an animal (or fish) out of hiding with bait to capture or kill it. • Now think of a time in your life where you "took the bait" or saw someone else "take the bait" to their detriment. What bad came of it? • Why were you (or they) vulnerable to take the bait at that time? What would have helped you/them to not take the bait? • Read 2 Peter 2:14,18. How did the false teachers entice people to "take the bait". 2. How are moral excellence, knowledge, self-control and perseverance related? (from 2 Peter 1:5-7) 3. Now think of a time when you or someone you know showed self-control and persevered through a hard time. Discuss that. • Was there an up side to enduring through the hard time? Do you think God was glorified as a result of the endurance shown? 4. Consider/reread Joseph's story in Genesis 39. Discuss how the godly characteristics in 2 Peter 1:5-7 come to play in his story. • Read 2 Peter 3:17,18. Relate Peter's words here to Joseph's story. How did Joseph exhibit what Peter told them to do? • Read James 1:4. What is the benefit of showing perseverance? • Read Luke 8:15. How does perseverance play into the parable of the sower and the seed? 5. Share an area in your life that you are struggling to persevere. Pray for each other.

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Something’s Missing
Part 7: Godliness By Remy Diederich Cedarbrook Church 11.15.09

Let me start with a question this morning…what image comes to mind when I say the word “godly”? Do you think of someone praying or reading the Bible or sitting in church? Maybe a monk in a robe? I’ve been teaching my way through seven virtues that are found in a letter in the Bible called Second Peter and “godliness” is number five of seven. I’ve called the series “Something’s Missing” because those virtues were missing from the church. To be honest, when I first looked through Peter’s list of virtues I had no idea what he meant by godliness. It sounded too vague. So I looked up the word in a Bible dictionary and all it said was “a devoted life”. That wasn’t very helpful. But after I dug a little deeper I learned what it meant and I think you’ll find it helpful. But before I get to what godliness means let me catch everyone up to speed. Peter wrote a letter to a number of churches warning them about their faith. He told them that their faith was lacking these seven virtues I talked about. So far I’ve talked about the first four; moral excellence, knowledge, self-control and perseverance. And for the most part, each word is fairly self explanatory. Peter said that they needed to add moral excellence to their faith because some false teachers had slipped into the church and convinced people that Jesus didn’t really care how they lived their life. In fact, Peter said that these false teachers – if you can believe this – actually enticed people to commit adultery and other sexual sin. As you can imagine Peter was not happy. And that’s why he sent his letter. He wanted to point out that followers of Jesus were called out of a life of immorality and into a life that glorified God. So, in contrast to the false teachers, Peter said that God had given his people the power to live a life of godliness. Peter put it like this… His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness … so that … you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3,4 So Peter shows us that there are two paths we can take in life: one path follows our evil desires while the other path follows a life of godliness. Since God had given people the power to escape their evil desires Peter warned them not to go back to their old lifestyle. Some of you might remember that wonderful image that Peter used. He said in chapter two that Christians that go back to their old lifestyle- their evil desires- are like dogs that go back and roll in their vomit or pigs that go back and roll in the mud. These are graphics pictures but Peter used them on purpose…he wanted people to see their lives from God’s perspective.
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Now, to help the church live a life of moral excellence Peter told them to add three more things to their faith; knowledge, self-control and perseverance. Each one of these will help you achieve moral excellence. But these four virtues are really only preparation for the last three virtues in his list. Moral excellence, knowledge, self-control and perseverance set you free to live a life of godliness, kindness and love. You see, Peter’s passion in writing this letter is to challenge the church to live a life of love. That’s the goal. He’s not writing to beat people up about their sin. But he knows love will never happen as long as people are chasing sin. Sin is a life that’s all about pleasing yourself. But love is a life that’s all about serving others. So Peter confronts their sin so they can be free to love. Look at all these Christmas boxes we have up here to send around the world today. This is the fruit of love. This is what happens when people take their eyes off their own wants and needs and put them on the needs of other people. Andy is going to talk about living a life of love next week. But that brings me back to godliness. What is godliness and what does it look like? Well, thankfully the apostle Paul wrote a letter to a church in Turkey giving us a great picture of what godliness is all about. So let’s turn to the book of Ephesians. It’s on page 801 of the church Bible. Paul starts off by doing the very same thing that Peter does in his letter…he calls the church to stop living like they used to… So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. Paul insists that they live a new life. He wouldn’t accept anything less from them. Now, Gentiles were non-Jews. And most Gentiles4 were pagans who lived lives of pretty serious sins. Notice the word “futility” here. He talks about the “futility of their thinking”. Peter used this same phrase (2 Peter 2:18) when he talked about the preaching of the false teachers. Their thinking was futile or worthless…it all added up to nothing. Then Paul goes on to describe how futile thinking impacts people… They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. Ephesians 4:18,19 So if I bring back my list from Peter we can add a few things to it. Our evil desires produce a lack of sensitivity to God, sensuality and every kind of impurity. But it also brings darkness, a separation from God and an ignorance (which is the opposite of “knowledge”, one of the seven virtues). You see, Paul had the exact same problem with the Ephesians that Peter had, and every pastor has for that matter, and that is that people lose sight of their calling to honor God and they go back to their old life. That’s why pastors are called shepherds. We need to take our “hook” and keep pulling people back to God!
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It’s a little confusing because Paul was writing to Jews and Gentile Christians. But Gentiles were so associated with sin, especially from the Jewish perspective, that “Gentile” became a generic term for “sinner”.

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So Paul reminds them of what they were taught when they first came to faith. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. …You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; … There’s another phrase that Peter used…corrupted by its evil desires (see 2 Peter 1:4). Peter said that the world is corrupted by our evil desires. But Paul makes it personal. He says that each one of us is being corrupted or decaying because of our evil desires. So what’s the solution? Paul tells them to “put off” their old self and “put on”, or “clothe themselves” with their new self. The image here is like a snake shedding its skin or a butterfly shedding its cocoon. Both the skin and the cocoon are useless, dead weight. A snake would be a fool to drag around its old skin and a butterfly would be a fool to carry around its cocoon. So why would we want to carry our old life around with us? Paul says that we too should abandon the lifestyle that caused our corruption. Let me give you something else to add to your notes. The first column is what Paul calls the “old self” (the life that follows evil desires) and Peter’s virtues are called the “new self”. So we are to shed our old life and put on the new life that God has given us. You were taught…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, … When he tells us to put on the new self he’s talking about a choice that we have to make. It’s not something that happens automatically. You’ve got to decide what life you are going to live. It’s like this. Imagine that you have a closet full of old dirty clothes that are falling apart. Maybe that’s not too much of a stretch for some of you! Then one day you decide to follow Jesus. You open up your closet and all your old clothes are still there but hanging there right next to the old clothes are beautiful new ones…ones that will never fade or wear out. The big question is…which clothes will you choose to wear…the old ones or the new ones? The old ones are more comfortable but the new ones show off the greatness of God. Do you see that? Now look at this. Paul says… You were taught… to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness…

What does godliness look like?

And then a few verses later he says…therefore be imitators of God (5:1). How do you like that? Did you know that you and I were created to be like God? But that still leaves us with the question…what does it look like to be like God? How do we imitate him? Well, Paul helps us here. He gets very practical and lays out five general areas where we can be like God. First he says that godliness looks like the way you deal with your anger… "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be
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kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:25-32 So we are to put off anger and put on forgiveness. Second, he says that godliness has to do with how you spend your time… He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Ephesians 4:28 We are to stop stealing and work so we can help others. Now, we may not think we steal but are you sure? Maybe stealing is more that taking what’s not yours at work or in a store. Maybe stealing is simply helping yourself to what hasn’t been given to you. As I’ve been reading through the letters of Paul he keeps telling people to work and not be idle. He didn’t want people taking advantage of others… “freeloading” on them but to work hard so they could contribute to the community. Next, godliness looks like how you behave morally. Move to chapter 5. …among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Ephesians 5:3 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery [a wasted, worthless life]. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 It doesn’t say we shouldn’t drink. He’s not talking about that. But it’s the worthless life that results from people who devote their time to drinking when they could be filled with the Spirit and doing good. So we are to put off immorality and put on holiness, that is, a life that is separated to God. The fourth example that Paul gives for godliness is how we treat each other in our family. I’m not going to read it all but it’s interesting to note that Paul devotes no verses to moms, one verse to fathers, three lines to children, three sentences to wives and ten verses to husbands. I’ll let you draw your conclusions about whom he thinks needs the most help! Here’s just an excerpt… Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:25 Children, obey your parents in the Lord… Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4 So, basically he’s calling us to put off disrespect for one another and show love and respect in the family. I think this text is interesting because it has been used for years to “keep wives in line” by submitting to their husbands but it’s much more about the importance of husbands loving and caring for their wife. The wife, in turn, is called to submit to his care. The final example of godliness is in how you treat each other at work.
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Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. …Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men …And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. Ephesians 6:5-10 His point here is that both employee and employer should put off disrespect and put on an attitude that treats the other like Jesus. Employees, treat your boss like you would Jesus. And bosses, treat your staff like you would Jesus. Well, that’s a practical picture of godliness. It’s not some monk walking around, chanting with a halo hovering over his head. It’s me and you living our lives in a way that honors God in everything we do.
The key to godliness.

But there’s a secret or a key to godliness. The key to godliness is what’s known as the exchanged life…exchanging your old life for the new life of God’s Spirit. The exchanged life is much more than just deciding to be good and working hard at not being bad. That kind of life only wears you out, makes you mad and makes you want to give up. The exchanged life understands a spiritual secret and that secret is that when Jesus died he broke the power of sin in your life making the exchange possible. Did you know that? Peter knew this…that’s why he told us that God’s power has given us everything we need for godliness. And Paul knew this. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Romans 6:6,7 What this means is that when you put your faith in Jesus a spiritual transaction took place. Your sinful desires were transported back 2000 years ago and nailed to the cross with Jesus. And the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is sent into your life to give you the power to live a new life. So, in theory, you are dead to sin and alive to Christ but you will decide whether or not it’s a reality by the decisions you make. Paul said that this transaction had taken place in his life… I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20 That means that when he went into his closet…so to speak… he was able to turn away from his old clothes and put on the new ones. Meaning that he could turn from temptation and choose to honor God in everything you did. In verse 11, Paul tells us how he was able to do that… … count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11 The word “count” here is an accounting term. It means to credit to an account what it deserves. If I owe a business $25 and pay off the debt then their accountant will write in the ledger that my debt was paid and the account is closed. So in our case, if you believe what the Bible says, if you
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pull out the ledger called sin…with a list of all your sin, it should have stamped on the front, “ACCOUNT CLOSED”. Your “sin account” is closed. This doesn’t mean you will never sin again…but it means that the power is broken and you are on your way to developing a new lifestyle of godliness. But a whole new book has been opened and that’s a book of godliness. And in that book it says that your account is full…in fact, it has unlimited funds…your account has everything you could ever need to live a life of godliness. With this understanding in mind, Paul goes on to say… Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:12-13 I like how emphatic Paul is here. Do NOT let sin reign in your mortal body. He doesn’t have any doubt about what took place on the cross. Sin shall NOT be your master. His confidence gives me confidence. Now, we all face temptation. We all fail. But I want you to see that we don’t have to let sin win in our life. Some of you are probably on the verge of giving up. Others probably have…you’ve given in because you don’t think you have the power to change. But that’s what Paul wants you to know…your sinful nature has been crucified. And Peter wants you to know that you have been given the power to live a godly life and share the nature of God. So don’t give up! You can change and we are here to help make that happen in your life. Well, I hope this gives you a practical picture of what godliness is about. Paul taught the exact same thing that Peter taught only with much more detail. Both Peter and Paul call us to turn away from pleasing ourselves and live a life that honors God and they both tell us that we have all the power we need. Prayer; Father, thanks for Paul’s teaching. So practical and down to earth. We see now that godliness isn’t about being religious but putting off our old life and clothing ourselves with a new one. God, help us to be good accountants. Help us to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to live our lives for you. And always remind us that we don’t live this life on willpower but your power. Going Deeper Questions Use the questions below for personal reflection or to discuss with you family, friends and/or small group. 1. What comes to mind when you hear the word godliness? (Is it positive? Negative? An attitude? Or actions?). Describe a person you think of as being godly. 2. Read Ephesians 4:17-19. Paul describes ungodliness. What words does he use? 3. Read Ephesians 4:20-24. Paul mentions that they were taught. What were they taught? (Note
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the words in vs. 22 that Peter also used. What are they?) 4. Compare Ephesians 4:24 and Ephesians 5:1. What radical idea does Paul present? What do you think about that? Is this new information to you? 5. Read 5:2. What do Paul's words have in common with Peter? (see 2 Peter 1:7) 6. What are the five areas that Remy said Paul tells us to imitate God? Which area do you struggle with the most? 7. Read the section from Ephesians (listed in sermon outline) that your small group seems to have the most trouble with. 8. Discuss the following verses and how they help us deal with sin: Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 3:5-7, Romans 6:6, Hebrews 12:1, Romans 12:2 9. Pray for one another as a community of sinners whom God is moving toward moral excellence and love.

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