StandardsSeries: Upside Down. James Dewhurst March 8, 2020
Today, we begin an 8-week series, that is in tandem with our Real Groups, called – Upside/Down!
Wise P. – “Refuse to lower your standards for people who are unwilling to raise theirs.”
The word Standard is defined as Something established by an authority as a measure, a norm, or a model.
Although by definition, standards are established by an external authority, we live in a world of self-defined standards.
> The way that I see that is a bit different…
> I used to believe that, but I’ve changed…
> That may work for you, but not for me…
> I do whatever feels right at the moment…
Pope Benedict XVI – “We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain, and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
The only problem with living a self-governed life is that the Bible tells us in:
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (ESV)
The third verse of The great 1750’s hymn, Come Thou Fount, reminds us about our true nature as it reads, “O to grace how great a debtor, Daily I’m constrained to be. Let that grace now, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for They courts above.”
Martin Luther: “In contrast to ethical relativism, Christianity sets forth the system of absolute moral values and affirms that God has placed within the very structure of this universe certain moral principles that are fixed and immutable.”
For the Christian, God becomes the standard that we submit our standards to!
So, what are God’s standards for us?
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (ESV)
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (ESV)
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV)
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, (ESV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (ESV)
These passages tell us today that God has called Christians to a higher standard:
> What we watch and do for entertainment needs to be different than the world!
> What we practice in our own private lives needs to be different than the world!
> The language we choose to respond with, needs to be different than the world!
> The grace we give and the amount we forgive, needs to be different than the world!
> The amount we drink and the company we keep, needs to be different than the world!
The life of the Christian should be a reflection of the standards of heaven!
We don’t follow God’s standards to be elitist, we follow God’s standards to be examples
When people see a Christian who lives by a different standard, they take notice!
We will never turn our world upside down, by lowering our standards to imitate it!
Peter addresses believers again in:
1 Peter 2:11-12
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (ESV)
Peter shows us two things about our standards in this passage:
> When we live like the world it hurts our soul.
> When we live like the world it hurts our witness.
We don’t upgrade our standards because we are better than this world, we do it because we are not of this world!
(We are strangers and aliens on assignment!)
The problem among Christians today, is we want life-change without a lifestyle change!
People are using God’s grace as a license to keep sinning, not a platform for changing!
> We consume the same substances we did before!
> We watch the same things we watched before!
> We speak the same words we spoke before!
> We keep the same habits we had before!
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (ESV)
We don’t want to be a legalistic church, but we don’t want to be a loose one either!
What does it mean to live our lives with Upside/Down standards?
(1) It means that we think differently!
Colossians 3:1-3 (NIV) “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ… 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Oswald Chambers – “All Christians have the spirit of Christ, but not all Christians have the mind of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
(2) It means that we live differently!
1 Peter 1:15-16 “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy because I am holy.”
Notice, God doesn’t say, “Do as I say, not as I do!”. He says, “Do as I do!”
Jesus said in John 15:19 “If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”
Foreigners don’t adapt to the attitudes and actions of a place they don’t call their home!
The greatest obstacle to the church reaching the world is our behavior mirroring theirs!
(3) It means that we love differently!
Jesus teaches us in: Luke 6:32-36 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
(Our love must have no limits!)
Our standard of loving must supersede our politics, our preferences, and our prejudices!
God, through his grace, is calling some of us here today to raise our standards!!!