Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sermon 9/3/06-- Wiping the Slate Clean

This week begins a series entitled--"New Creation Living"

Wiping the Slate Clean—2 Cor. 5:17

My son Gabriel has a wonderful learning tool at home. It’s a chalkboard. On it, he can draw to his hearts content. He makes lines, he draws shapes, he scribbles characters. Many times, he asks me or Vicky to draw something for him, an animal, a veggie tale character. What’s sad is that I’m not a very good artist. I need to learn a thing or two from Stacy. I’ll be drawing along and realize that what I’m drawing looks absolutely horrible and nothing like what Gabriel asked for. Now, he doesn’t care, he just wants to play with me and see me do it. But my eyes don’t let me tolerate it.

Thankfully, there is an eraser. With a few wipes of the brush, my mistakes can be removed, I can plan what I want to do instead and there’s hope that the task I started will be satisfying to both Gabriel and myself. Not much hope for me, but hope remains.

Sometimes, I get to a point and want to wipe the whole board clean. I see so many old lines, so many past mistakes that the board needs to be totally cleansed. Isn’t it great to know that “wiping the slate clean” is just what God offers us in Christ? Paul reminds us in

2 Cor 5:17—“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

When we make a decision to be “IN Christ”, when we choose to accept His gift of forgiveness, we are completely changed. In essence, our slate has been wiped clean. It affects our past, our present and our future.

1. Forgotten Past—
a. Our old purposes and aims, our old weaknesses and faults, our old pride & conceit, our old hypocrisies and sins have been changed into something completely new. It springs forth from the power of Christ working in us. It is a new act of Creation on God’s part. One set of conditions and relationships had passed out of existence, another set has come to stay. The individual who comes to faith has experienced a renewal and a rebirth. The believer has been truly “born again”.

b. Think about that connection. The same type of creative power that was at work back in Genesis 1 when God said, “Let there be light” is at work in every believer to change them into a new creation—there is a total transformation—“Let them be made new!—Remade—remade the way I intended them to be!” No we don’t see that total transformation now, but it has happened in eternity, and what has happened there is assured for us here.

c. That’s what makes it a moment of change and an ongoing process of change. To accept Jesus as Lord and live in Him as Lord will make many familiar things, old habits and situations look old, shameful and unpleasant. If you are listening to the voice of Christ, more and more the sins of your past will no longer be appealing, you’ll want to stay away from the things, the situations, the people that were a part of marking up your slate in they eyes of God. You won’t want to be a part of it.

d. But when our slate has been cleansed, our past has been cleansed we have an assurance from the Word of God that our sins have been removed.

e. Psalm 103:12—“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

f. Many of the early Christians could find themselves in a list that Paul expressed in
1 Cor. 6:9-10—“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

g. If we’re honest, most of us could find ourselves somewhere in that list at some point in our lives. But the joy, and the power of being a new creation is found in v. 11—“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

h. In other words, those characteristics may have marked your previous life, but in Christ, He will change us—in some experiences instantaneously, in others over years of discipleship. Some can testify to immediate deliverance from addictions like alcohol, while others have years of struggle. God doesn’t do the same thing in every person. In either case, In Christ--we cannot continue to live defined by our old life.

i. And what’s wonderful to realize is that what we used to be, the mistakes we have made, cannot keep us from living and being used in the Kingdom of God when we have been washed in the Blood of Christ.
j. Your past has been wiped clean. When you are in Christ, you may experience continuing results of the past, but you cannot be bound by the past. God still loves you and wants to use you.
2. Present Guidance
a. A clean slate isn’t worth very much if you’re just going to mark it all up again. Now don’t get me wrong… every single one of us “In Christ” will continue to sin, we will continue to add blemishes to our record. That will not change until we have died or transformed at the Second Coming.

b. We need help today. We need assistance with living today. And because our slate has been cleaned, our past has been forgiven by the blood of Christ, we have hope to resist temptation today. We have the Holy Spirit living inside us, speaking to us, reminding us that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, that all of us are priests and called to live a holy life.

c. The Holy Spirit is more than just a little Jimminy Cricket sitting on our shoulder pleading with us to do the right thing. He is even more active and authoritative than that. We have Present Guidance.

d. 1 Cor. 10:13—“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

e. Temptation is not in itself wrong—if that were so, Jesus would be guilty. God promises that for every temptation we face, He will provide a way out of temptation—He will give us Present Guidance.

f. Whenever we are tempted, it is an opportunity to do right as much as wrong.

g. You’re Christ-like character is strengthened when you are tempted to do the exact opposite of what He calls you to be.

You are called to be patient, Satan tempts you to be impatient.
You are called to be self-controlled; Satan tempts you to be self-indulgent.

h. No temptation is too much for us—God won’t allow that—it is as much an opportunity to strengthen your faith, an opportunity to Live for Him and Grow In Him as it is an opportunity to sin.

i. He wants to lead us to the Abundant Life that Jesus spoke about. The adventure of life that sees every moment, every encounter, every relationship as an opportunity to Honor and Give Glory to God. God’s present Guidance is there if only we will listen and recognize His voice.

j. Along with our past and our present, God is preparing a future for you as well.

3. Future Opportunity—
a. In Jeremiah, God says, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God is interested about our future. He wants to see us blessed, He wants to give us hope and a purpose for living.

b. But that is so hard to do if we don’t have something to work for, if we don’t have something to do. Retirement is often difficult or avoided b/c we don’t want to quit, don’t want to have something to do. Many who have nothing to do or are bored have given up on life. Thankfully, part of God’s plan includes things for us to do.

c. Ephesians 2:8-10—“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

d. We cannot earn or deserve God’s love and Grace—our works do nothing to contribute to our salvation, but we do have works to do AFTER we become believers. Works are not in order to be saved, but because we are saved, not saved by good works but saved for good works.

e. We are God’s Workmanship—the NLT says we are God’s “masterpiece”. We have been composed and constructed like an artist paints a painting or a poet writes a poem.

f. We are under continually under construction and God, who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion.

g. “Created anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things”—our new life in Christ has a purpose—so that we can become a blessing to others, so we may serve as God’s ambassadors on earth. Acts of kindness toward other believers and the unchurched in our communities make Christianity tangible to the unsaved world.

h. William Penn wrote: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore there be any kindness I can show or any good thing I can do to any fellow-being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

i. “God prepared in advance for us to do—which he planned for us long ago—prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”
God prepared a future for us—He prepared good works for us to do. His eternal sovereignty planned out specific things, specific work that He desires for us to do.

j. –Jeremiah’s work was assigned to him before his birth
--Paul was set apart from his mother’s womb to take the Gospel to the Gentiles
--Every day in your life, in my life, according to Psalm 139, has been recorded by God before a single day had passed.

There are some things that God is planning that only you can fulfill.

The next semester, the next year should not be seen as something to endure, or something to look forward to ending, but as an opportunity. Thinking, what does God want to do in me or through me this year?

Our past has been forgiven, our present is being guided, our future has been prepared. All because you are a new creation in Jesus Christ, all b/c of faith.

Have you been changed? Have you become a new creation or are you still trudging around in the same old, bad habits and sins? He is saying to you, “come to me and be forever changed! Come into the future that I have planned for you, come into an eternity with me.”

1 comment:

Patrick said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You