THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST (LESSON 4)
Again we will be talking about what it means to be a Christian and what happens when you make Christ the Lord of your life. As we talked about previously, when Christ is your Lord, that means that He is King over your life. His will comes before your own desires. Well, tonight we are going to talk about what happens when you let other people, possessions, or interests become more important than Christ. As a matter of fact, there is a word for this behavior. It is called idolatry.
Now, you guys are probably thinking that idolatry is something that ancient people used to do or that it is bowing down to some big stone idol or golden calf. But did you know that idolatry happens today and that some of us here might be guilty of idolatry? Let's look at the many ways idolatry can happen.
Idolatry occurs when we place anything in a primary position before God in our life. If instead of going to church on Sunday, you stay home because you want to watch the televised football game, maybe football or sports is an idol for you. If instead of doing the right things that God wants you to do, you do the wrong things that your friends want you to do, maybe your friends are your idol. If you disobey God's commandments and lie and steal to gain material things, maybe money is your idol. Simply put, you are practicing idolatry when you put anything before God and God's laws.
Well, we are going to take a look at some people who were guilty of idolatry. Even though these people had seen all that God had done in their lives, they still chose to dishonor God by putting man-made things before God. These people were the Israelites (Give background on the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt by God, and tell how God wanted to use Moses to lead them to the Promise Land.)
Now, let's see how these people acted as soon as Moses went to the mountain and was out of sight. Exodus 32:1-6 reads, "And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play."
* Just like the Israelites were being led to the Promised Land, Christ wants to lead us. Christ wants to free us from the things of this world that would enslave us. And the Lord wants us to ultimately make it to our true home in heaven. But oftentimes we lose sight of Christ and disregard His commands. We bow down to the god of money and do whatever it takes to get it. We bow down to the god of lust and forget about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit. We bow down to our peers at school or the folks at work and copy their sinful behavior instead of remembering that Jesus is the one that we should be trying to emulate. We put our own selfish pleasures first just like the Israelites. We forget about what God has already done for us and what He promises to do for us in the future, and we begin to worship other idols in our lives.
Let's see how this behavior makes God feel. (Read Exodus 32:7-10.)
God was about ready to destroy the Israelites for their idolatry. That is how unhappy He was when He saw that after everything, they were so quick to forget all about Him. But God gave the Israelites another chance, just as He forgives us and gives us chance after chance. But it still saddens Him when we choose to put anything before him.
Sometimes we think, "Well, I go to church on Sunday. Isn't that enough?" But we owe God more of our time than that. You might be a person who faithfully attends church yet still be committing idolatry. There are some people who you might see every Sunday in church. They might even be in the choir. To see them, you would think that they are truly men and women of God. But that couple of hours on Sunday might be the only time they give God. Those same people might forget all about God all the other days of the week and do whatever they please. But God doesn't just want to be Lord in our lives on Sunday. He wants to come first every day of the week. Don't just honor God for a couple hours with your lips. Give Him your heart. Isaiah 29:13, "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch this people draw near me with their mouth and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me." Be a full-time, sold-out Christian!
A good example of someone who was just putting on a good front but didn't truly consider Christ as his Lord is the Apostle Judas. This man walked with Christ, ate with Christ, even performed some miracles with Christ. But he is also the one who betrayed Christ and sold him out for 30 pieces of silver. And to know Judas, you never would have known that he was the one who would turn on Christ. When Jesus sat at the table with the disciples and told them that one of them would betray Him, nobody jumped up and said, "It's Judas, isn't it?" Matthew 26:22 tells us that after Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him, "And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?" No one could tell that Judas was not a true follower. And although Judas called Christ "Lord," he later showed by his actions that Christ wasn't his Lord at all. Maybe you, too, have everyone else fooled, but you know in your heart the truth of your relationship with the Lord.
What has been your "thirty pieces of silver"? What are you selling Christ out for? What is your golden calf? The Bible warns us not to become like the Israelites. 1 Corinthians 10:7 reads, "Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them." Christ wants to lead you, and he wants to be your Lord, but you have to cast aside those idols in your life. You should fall in love with Christ. And do it today while you still have time. Don't let Satan trick you into thinking that you should have your worldly fun now and get right with Christ later when you are older. If you keep closing your ears to Christ's call, there may come a time when you no longer even recognize his voice.
If you are willing and ready to put Christ first, keep your eyes focused on Him, and follow Him as your Lord, God will do great work in your life and be with you through every difficulty. Let's read a quick Bible passage to illustrate this point. Matthew 14:22-32. "And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased."
When Peter had his eyes focused on his Lord Jesus, Christ enabled Peter to do the impossible. And when we keep our focus on Jesus, there is no telling what great things He will do in our lives. But as soon as Peter became distracted by the things that were going on around him, he stumbled. He started sinking. He got scared. He doubted that Christ could save him. All of the same things that happen to us when we don't keep Christ as the number one focus in our lives. If you have cried out, "Lord, save me," let Christ be your Lord, and let Him guide you from now until you die. Don't start out saying that you believe and then live as though you don't.
Let's close with this verse: Colossians 3:1-4. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."