Bella Vista Church of Christ
Refining Our Walk With God
Amazing that God desires a... Walking... Talking... Handholding... Relationship with us.
Scripture indicates that God created us for the enjoyment of walking with us in a relationship that involves...
• In the Garden… There was joint decision-making about the perpetual care of God’s creation.
In this intimate fellowship...
•There was mutual delight...
•A shared dominion...
As God came walking and talking with Adam & Even in the cool of the evening.
Listen to Leviticus 26.3, 11-12... If you will walk in my statutes and keep my commandments... And do them.... I will walk among you and will be your God... And you will be my people.
God wanting a relationship with us is alluded to in Acts chapter seventeen... Where we find Paul saying... From one man He made every nation that should inhabit the earth; and He determined the times set for them and the places where they should live... Listen Now... God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
Listen church... I want you to know this morning that... Nothing has changed... Nothing has Changed... God still desires this intimacy with His human creation.
He’s not just coming to walk in the cool of the evening... He now comes to live in us through the Spirit He gave us.
That’s what John tells us in First John 3.24... Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He lives in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us... We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Church... Isn’t it time we stop arguing this Scripture and accept the fact that God’s Love... Mercy... and Grace... Include His desire to walk with us...He in us and we in Him... Through the spirit he gives us?
I suppose there is no more comforting Scripture than Paul in Romans chapter eight... As he tells us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of god. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.
Here it is church...
• If we believe Jesus was the son of God...
• We can believe that we are His children also...
And whatever Jesus received as His inheritance... We will receive as ours.
These Scriptures tell us that... Not only does God come walking with us... He lives in us... We have a Father Son Relationship with Him through His Spirit He gave us.
Well...We gotta ask... What does it mean to walk with God?
I think it means that we keep Him at the center of OUR life...
• Keeping Him in the center of our thinking...
• In everything we say...
• Everything we do...
Keeping Him in the center of our relationships
• Our family life...
• Our finances...
• Our entertainment choices..
• Our plans and ambitions for today and the future...
Life must revolve around Him... He must rule and reign in every arena of our being.
OK... Let's set these thoughts aside and read our text together...
Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God?Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us envies intensely? But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Come… Let’s see what we can learn...
First... We must choose... Walk with God or walk with the world.
James is plain and forthright... Saying... God is jealous over us and the Holy Spirit He has placed within us.
He has a Jealous desire for us to walk with Him... Not walk in the ways of the World.
In fact... He says... Walking in the world...Walking in Political Correctness... make us an enemy of God.
Church... There may have been a time in our country when Political Correctness and the Word of God were much closer together... But not today.
• Not with adultery & all kinds of fornication piped into our living rooms... Available on our cell phones.
• Our country provides abortions on demand...
• Euthanasia is practiced in our clinics and hospitals...
• The law of the land deems same sex marriages as both legal and right...
• Our children are taught in school that they are free to choose their sexual preference...
• Capitalism has made materialism the God of our culture...
• Racism is rehearsed daily in our streets.
Indeed... We must choose... Walk with the ways of world or Walk with God.
Titus says it well for us... For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
Secondly... James indicates that walking with God takes HUMILITY.
Note verses 9 & 10... Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord.
I believe we are talking about an emotional response which brings us to REPENTANCE.
Paul tells us that Godly sorrow leads to repentance... For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret... But worldly grief leads to death.
Church...We can never have a meaningful walk with God until we HUMBLY admit our sins and strive to change.
Repentance is our agreeing with God on what is sin and what is righteousness.
Repentance is a change of heart that’s so strong that it results in a change in behavior.
Repentance is a change in principle which results in a change in practice.
Repentance is our taking ownership of...
• Every thought...
• Every action...
• Every word spoken...
• Every misdeed...
Here it is church... Repentance will never happen in my life nor yours until we HUMBLY grieve... Mourn... wail...over our sins... Until we have a broken contrite heart.
Humility leads to... Surrender.
James says submit yourselves to God
Humble teachability... Humble teachability... that results in… surrender...
Submission... total Obedience... Is not a popular attribute in our culture... But is necessary for a walk with God.
The world says... Be in control... God says... Such a haughty spirit is my most hated sin.
Truth is... Scripture teaches us that EVERYBODY MUST SUBMIT TO SOMEBODY...
• Servants are to submit to their masters.
• Children to parents.
• Slaves to their masters.
• Citizens to their rulers.
• Wives to their husbands.
• Husbands are submissive to their wives in that, we are to love them enough to die for them.
• The church is to submit to Christ.
• Christ was submissive to God.
• Yet God is submissive to us... In that He came in the form of a Son to save us.
• Paul tells us in Ephesians five that we are to submit to one another.
It was Jesus who said... If anyone loves me... he will obey me... He will submit to My teaching... My Father will love him... And we will come to him and make our home with him.
The question becomes... Do we really want to walk with God?... Only… Only…if we’re willing to submit in total obedience.
We must resist the devil.
The word resist here is not a passive word... But refers to an active opposition. It’s a military term that literally means... To battle against.
Look back to verse four... Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God...
As children of god... We are in a battle... We're in a war.
The battle is between the spirit & the flesh... Right & wrong... Good & evil.
No wonder Paul admonishes us... To put on the whole armor of God so we can fight against the devil’s schemes... And to abstain from the very appearance of evil.
In Galatians five... He gives us a list of the evils we are to battle against... The acts of the... sinful... Flesh...Worldly... Nature are obvious... HERE THEY ARE... Sexual immorality... Impurity... Debauchery... Idolatry... Witchcraft... Hatred... Discord... Jealousy... Fits of rage... Selfish ambition... Dissensions... Factions… Envy... Drunkenness… Orgies... And the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Church... Is there any doubt that walking with God demands our moral purity?
Listen to Ephesians 4.5… For of this you can be sure... No immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Therefore do not be partners with them.. Don’t walk with them!!.
It’s ludicrous to think that we can walk with God while one foot is in the world... Amen?
It’s not enough to resist Satan... We are to Come near to God.
What does it mean to come near to God?
It means that we give Him His rightful place in our life.
Exodus 20.2 says... No other God's before me.
• Love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul.
• Deny self... Take up your cross and follow Me.
• Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
• The rich young ruler was told... Sell all you have and come follow me.
Are we really willing to walk with God?... On Jesus' terms?... Really???
Coming near to God is aligning our willwith His will.
Amos said... Two cannot walk together unless they agree.
Paul indicates that aligning our will with His is... keeping step WITH the Spirit... Producing the fruit of God living in us... Love... Joy... Peace... Patience... Kindness... Goodness... Faithfulness... Gentleness... Self-control.
But did you know this... That our will can override the will of God?... It can!!
• In the garden... It was God's will that Adam and Eve always live in that special intimate... Walking... Talking... Fellowship with Him.
But the will of man reigned supreme over the will of God.
• In the narrative of the rich young ruler... The text says that Jesus loved him. He invited him to follow Him... Walk with Him...
But this young man's will to live in the world was stronger than Jesus' love... So he left.
• Second Peter 3.9 says... God is not slack concerning His promises toward us, but is long suffering, not WHAT?... Not WILLING that any should parish, but that all should come to repentance… God wills that all be saved… But our will reigns supreme.
Have you and your preacher WILLED to walk with God?... Have WE?... REALLY?
Walking with God demands that sinners be... washed... Cleansed... That hearts be purified.
• Ananias told Saul... Why wait, arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.
• The Hebrews writer says... Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
• 1 Peter 3.21 tells us that... This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also... Not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience towards God.
• Then in Revelation the saved of the Christian era are pictured as those who have their robes washed in the blood of the lamb.
• 1 John 1.7 & 9... If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin... If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
We must know this morning that there are none walking with God that have not been washed... CLEANSED... Purified... By the blood of Jesus.
Galatians 3.26 & 27 says... We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus... For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ...Have been clothed with Christ.
Now let me be clear here... Outward appearance is not enough... Just going through a religious ceremonial cleansing of baptism is not enough... God calls for more than religious ritual... Hearts must be purified.
• The prophet Joel told those of his day that it was not enough to ceremonially tear or rend their garment to be pleasing to God, they must... WHAT?... Rend their hearts... Change their hearts.
• Solomon gives us two thoughts...
Proverbs 23.7… As a man thinks in his heart so is he.
Proverbs 4.23… Keep your heart with all diligence for it is the well-spring of life.
Jesus said... Out of the heart come the issues of life... From the heart we speak & behave.
We must know that we cannot really walk with God until our heart is right.
The Christian walk is much more than ritual and ceremonial… IT’S A HEART CONDITION.
So...The question that remains...
• ARE we IN CHRIST?... For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
• Are we walking with God?.. If we walk in the light as he is in the light... We have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sin.
My God and I go in the fields together,
We walk and talk as good men should and do...
This earth will pass and with it common trifles,
But God and I will go unendingly.
Come walk with Him as we stand and sing this invitation song.