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The Root of the Problem

Michael Dant

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Michael Dant

Embedded Computer Science Teacher at Southern Adventist University. 

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Conference

Recorded

  • April 6, 2018
    7:00 PM
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Heavenly Father God we desperately need you we can't do it no matter what it is we can't and Father I pray that you will be here that you will flood this place with your presence that we will have the privilege and the joy of fellowshipping with you right here tonight father pray that you will overwhelm our hearts with your Holy Spirit open our minds and give us clear understanding help us to see a vision of of where you want us to be and how you can get us there is my prayer in Jesus' name that. Last night we asked the question how can I enjoy God perhaps one of the most important questions that we as Christians can answer because love is the great motivator love transforms a Christian life from a should do must do experience into a get to love relationship and the difference is transformational and we saw that if we want to love God with all of our heart with all of our mind with all of our soul with all of our strength what are we going to need to do give God all of our heart all of our mind all of our soul and all of our strength my friends love for God only comes from God he commands it he gives it we have to receive it and we looked last night at the cost of receiving that love of letting God plant that love deep into our hearts it is an all or nothing unreserve an unlisted unrelenting surrender to let the Almighty God be Almighty God in us so that's the good news God commands us to love him he would do he longs for us to love him he gives us that love freely. And yet we resist him. What is it about us that causes us to resist all of the blessings the goodness that God is pouring last why do we want to go our own way instead of God's way let's look at that question a little bit here tonight. On the one side of the boat fighting ring is a skinny little guy in a funny little costume who weighs about one hundred eighty pounds and if he were an Olympic sprinter he would be able to run twenty miles an hour for a very short period of time on the other side of that bullfighting ring is thirteen hundred pounds of barely restrained fury that is about to unleash a self on this poor little guy in a funny little costume and he can run twice as fast. The ball is bigger the ball is stronger the ball is faster and the ball almost always loses anything wrong with that picture why why does the ball lose well coursers many reasons one of the reasons is the same called the red cape you see the bull has this fascination this focus on this red cape and he puts all of his energy and all of his horns into shredding that tape to pieces and guess what can't be hurt no matter how much time energy he puts into tearing decade to shreds he is no closer to winning the battle if you really wants that Cape to lie lifeless in the dust he needs to get rid of the one who's holding it right. What would happen do you think if just theoretically here just bear with me let's just say that for once the bowl would say it's not the red cape I'm after it's that funny little guy in a funny little costume I'm after what do you think would happen if he just decided to focus on his true enemy. The Bible tells us that we are to be more than conquerors through Christ who loved us and yet a lot of times as Christians this is it was true in my life as well for so many years I was not the Conqueror I was not getting victory over Salmon I was not enjoying God I was not relishing my time with him there was a whole bunch of not victory going on in my life. And you know we live in an age of the church where you see that all around us our peers have the same problem our parents may have that same problem and sometimes even our pastors have the same problem what is going on why can't we let God give us the victory and this is a problem in the spiritual life as well. One of my favorite authors put it this way it is only labor in vain to pick leaves off a living tree the axe must be laid at the root of the tree and then to leaves will fall off never to return my friends do you want to find the root of the problem and do you want to collaborate with God to do whatever it takes to attack the root of the problem so that the leaves of sin fall off and never come back but let's find the root together tonight well who is our enemy that's the question we want to ask who is our true enemy who should we be fighting Well the delicate the mind right the Bible after all says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers against the powers against the world forces of this darkness against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places so yes the devil is an enemy but there's two things that you and I should know about the devil One is if we try to fight him directly we lose period he's much too strong for us but the second thing and this is wonderful news the Bible tells us that Jesus came in the flesh that through death he might render powerless him who had the death of the power of death that is the Devil In other words the devil is not only are not our direct enemy he is a defeated foe and that's good news so no enemies right or does God have any other enemies the side of the Devil Yes yes God does have other enemies beside the devil in fact he has about seven billion of them and in some ways these enemies are worse than the devil and will find out why Paul tells us we know that the law is spiritual but I am of flesh that's the bad news I am by nature sold into bondage to sin Paul calls the sinful nature of the flesh and it goes on the mind set on the flesh is what. Hostile toward God for does not subject is so to the law of God For it is not even able to do so and those who are in the flesh cannot please God my friends this is our natural condition by nature we are hostile to God we cannot obey His law that's our nature when Adam sinned our very nature became broken you know I don't have your thumb of this before but when Adam and Eve before they sinned do you know that their natural desire their craving their delight was to do God's will to be with him to go everywhere he led but after they sent their natural desire their craving their bent was to go away from God and you and I have inherited that that is our sinful nature. We have become like Adam and we are told that as soon as Adam sinned he was in harmony with the first great apos state and at war with God You and I have inherited that battle you and I are at war with God We are broken and bent by nature you know a lot of people understand that it's cold in the winter and hot in the summer but we don't necessarily always know why and I'm sure there are some good astrophysicist in the room this evening that could tell us why but some people believe that it's cold in the winter because in the winter the earth is farther away from the sun but that's not actually true in fact in January the Earth is closer to the sun that it is in June so why is it colder than the answer is the tilt of the earth if you look at this diagram in January the earth is tilted away the north in the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun so those powerful beams are actually glancing off the Earth into space and we get cold because of that but look what happens in July even though the earth is farther away from the sun in July it is tilted towards the sun and those warming powerful beings hit it directly straight on by nature you and I are tilted away from the Sun of Righteousness by nature we are born into a spiritual winter. We do not love relish God and we do not obey Him by nature that is our very fundamental most fundamental part of who we are the good news is the good news is that unlike the Earth you and I can change our tilt by God's grace you and I have the power of choice and we can choose to let God change our tilt and that's the great news you and I are natural enemies of God we fight God and. We are our own worst enemies but no other to ask a question if that's true if we are at war with God then I'd like to ask you the question What is the battle that God is fighting that we are fighting against what is God's battle where we don't have to wonder Isaiah tells us that the Lord longs to be gracious to you and he waits on high to have compassion on you how Blessed are all those who long for him kids to see in this wonderful passage and almighty all loving God who is looking for any excuse any excuse doesn't even need to be a big risk you do could ask use any excuse to bless us each one of us as powerfully as he possibly can that is the battle that God is fighting and that is the battle but you and I are fighting against God. We are fighting against God as he battles to bless us we our own worst enemy showers of blessings are flowing all around us but we holed up in a bro. And you heard Remember that song showers of blessings I showers of blessings we need but raindrops around us are falling but for the showers we plead my friends the showers are already falling if we're seeing raindrops is only because there's a hole in our brother. God is doing everything in his power to bless each one of us wouldn't it be nice to just take down the umbrella and gets soaked in his goodness. As God longs for you and I fight God We are like a paint brush in the hand of the master painter that is squirming is splendidly and moving in the poor guy who is trying to make a masterpiece and we're getting his way we do that just by nature naturally but do we really fight God does that make any sense in what way does that make any sense to you guys if I asked you to raise your hand I'm not going to go ask you to raise your hand. If you really fight God when he tries to bless you I'm pretty sure that very few of you would actually say out that's true I mean I mean we want God's blessing Don't we all of us right so how does it make sense that we are fighting God when he strives to bless as well there's two reasons that we do that one is not all of God's blessings are attractive to us some of God's blessings include things like self-denial self-sacrifice sorrow discomfort trials tribulations I didn't enjoy news. Right but these are all good things that God has in store for us for a very good reason these are the best things he can do for us these are blessings Well OK So one reason that we fight God when he when he struggles to bless us is we are not always attracted to him the second reason why we fight God is even when we do want the good thing even when we do want to good thing we're not always willing to do what it takes or to let God do what it takes are not always willing to pay the price for these wonderful blessings. We want to be blessed all of us want to be blessed I don't know of anybody doesn't want to bless. But are we willing to be blessed let me give you an illustration I'll make this hopefully will be clearer let's say that you and I are going out tomorrow for our. Outreach and we decide to do a community health survey so we're looking for some poor soul too to pester and we find this guy sitting by himself in McDonald's all by himself and we say all right great Here's a guy I can maybe get some questions an answer out of him and so we take our health survey to him and we say hey would you mind taking a health survey in he wipes the grease office chin he says sure no problem be glad to take a health survey and so the first question we ask him is do you want to be blessed Well you say yes of course and what then will he say after that are you selling something right he'll say What are you doing the course and everybody knows the answer that question so OK so I know we're not so into Here's our next question so the next question is do you want to be healthy. What's he going to say OK or say I want to be healthy so we ask him are our next question do you want to have lower weight more energy lower blood cholesterol good blood sugar and good blood pressure and what would he say YES YES YES YES and YES NO ask me a hard question right of course he wants all these things so we asked more Last question then why are you eating this food. Don't you know that it actually fights against all of those good things that you want. You know he'll say so yeah I know that. Everybody knows that I don't eat this food because it's healthy I hate it because it tastes so good. Right. That's what he'll say that's what he'll say that my friends is self talking that is self wanting to be blessed but not willing to do what it takes that is self at the very practical level saying hey I want all these good things but I'm not willing always willing to do what it takes and then that happened to mirror a different areas of our life right there are thousands of areas like this we may want lots of energy but not want to get out there and take the time and effort to exercise we may want to have healthy friendships with but have a hard time holding back on the juicy gossip we may want to get out of debt but not want to curb our spending in a thousand different ways we may want good things but not be willing to do what it takes to get them and my friends that is doubly true in the Christian life as well you and I know that we are a church in desperate need of revival Reformation don't we right. And you and I know that the only possible path to that revival Reformation is going to be what the Holy Spirit is only possible to him So what do we do we play pray for the Holy Spirit we plead for the Holy Spirit we have seven days a fasting for the Holy Spirit and guess what a lot of times we don't get the Holy Spirit what is the problem why are we fighting this great need for revival reformation and not getting that one thing that we need in order to to to get that revival reformation did you know that if all were willing all would be filled with the Holy Spirit or do you know why we are not getting the Holy Spirit that we so desperately need even the dead the Holy Spirit we do so desperately pray for do you know why. Because we're not willing we looked last night a little bit at the cost of eternal life the cost of Jesus of loving Him with all of our heart mind and soul and strength and it's the same cost for the Holy Spirit once we give ourselves undeservedly to him Jesus was all the treasures of heaven gets himself to us remember that the last night that is the cost and most of us are not willing to pay that cost we are like the rich young ruler we come to Jesus with a legitimate request with a desperate desire and yet we walk away sad because although we want the blessing we're not willing to do what it takes and predicted that the gate would be small and that only a few would choose to go through it because it requires a radical choice you and I may want a close relationship with Jesus but be unwilling to do the radical relationship building. Opportunities he gives us you and I may want to spend more time with him each day but be unwilling to go to bed earlier so that we can get up earlier refreshed for that time with Jesus you and I might want to too long to enjoy the Scriptures but be unwilling to deny ourselves to stimulating worldly entertainment that makes the Bible seem bland by comparison. You and I am I want to soar with God on the heights but be unwilling to let him take off all the worldly waves that are holding us down we may truly desire to be on fire for God and yet not be willing to let him turn off the cold water faucet of worldliness that is making us lukewarm. In a thousand ways our nature is broken we are by nature fighting God as He longs and has he battles to give us all of these good things and throughout history God has been fighting the same battle we read in Isaiah does says the Lord God the Holy One of Israel has said in repentance and rest you will be saved in quietness and trust is your strength in that beautiful verse and that a beautiful promise but what you were not willing to use is cries out to us as he did to Israel two thousand years ago. Drew slim Drew slim how often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hand gathers her chicks under her wings and what you were on willing all these good things that God longs to do for us to hold us tight the almighty all loving all knowing God wants to hold us tight and we are unwilling we are at war with ourselves we our own worst enemies we are at war with our own selfish sinful nature and that is why and what tells us that self is the enemy we most need to fear there is the answer to our question for tonight self is the enemy we most need to fear no other victory we can gain will be so precious as the victory gained over self in another place he says this We have no enemy how many. No enemy outside of ourselves that we need to fear our great conflict is with unconsummated self when we conquer self we are what more than conquerors through him who has loved us now we know the root of the problem he didn't know before tonight now I hope you do because my friends the first the first step towards a solution is understanding the problem. That's computer science one on one just because you want to OK. So those are key phrases night we did out loud together with me my natural self fights God Self is the enemy I most need to fear that is the point that I'd like to drive home tonight if there's nothing else you learn from our time together please remember that because that has very practical purpose in your life it can help transform your whole Christian experience because as you understand that then you can collaborate with God to fight self and that's where we need to be self as enemy number one self is the root cause of every evil in fact Paul has a wonderful list of self he says the deeds of the flesh are evident which are immorality impurity sensuality idolatry sorcery enmity strife jealousy outbursts of anger disputes dissensions factions long breath envying drunkenness carousing and things like these of which I for warn you that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God what a credible list of selfish ness that Paul has highlighted here but you know what this is not a comprehensive list if you want to comprehensive list and I'd like to share with you something Ellen White once wrote a vision she saw in this vision she said another book was opened were in record of the sins of those who profess to choose Now remember whose sins are these. These are these are not the sins of the wicked and these are not the sins of the atheist these are the sins of those who profess issue under the general held heading of selfish ness came every other sentiment incredible under the general heading of selfishness comes every other sin for who for those who profess to shoot at you and me wow no wonder that self is the enemy we most need to fear so it is why our feathers get ruffled when the car behind us honks at us even though we know it's our fault so it is why we eat unhealthy food even though we know it's not good for us self is why we spend money and time wastefully self is why we say hurtful things to people we love so why we criticize others is why we are jealous of other self is why we are tracked and to comfort at the expense of exercise self is why we do not love God as we might self is why fill in the blank self is the enemy we most need to fear by nature we are at war with God That's the bad news OK so we got that behind us now now do you want the good news or the really bad news the really bad news good all right great. The good news is coming tomorrow the best news is we fight God The really bad news is that when we fight God we win right God has given you and I the freedom of choice and that means that when we fight God we win did you know that the weakest human being can stop the Almighty God in his tracks as he battles to bless him that scared when we fight God and we do that naturally we women perhaps the saddest words and all the scripture these found in Isaiah these are the words of God what more was there to do from I'VE BEEN YOUR that I have not done in that why would I expect it to produce good grapes to produce worthless ones can you do see an almighty all powerful omnipotent I'm missing and omnipresent God saying these words he is saying what more can I do than what I have already done and it's not working are you scared I think we should be a little bit. We can stop the Almighty God in his tracks as he battles to bless us because of our free choice the Lord has no reserve power with which to influence man that's good news in some ways God is doing everything everything there is not one more thing that God can do for you then what he is already doing he can't do any more. And it's enough it's plenty enough if you let him. But he will not force you to be blessed you've got free will that's your choice. There are seven wonderful things that everyone should know about God one that God loves us more than we can possibly fathom to his patients for us is super natural Isn't that wonderful we have a super naturally patient God three God is actually doing everything that he possibly can for each one of us for he never gets tired he never gets discouraged this is my favorite one coming up here he never makes mistakes ever and lastly God will succeed in blessing us but only if we let Him He is only limited by our free will to free will to his freely given us that is why surrender is so important surrender is saying Lord thank you for my free will here have it back surrender to saying Lord I want you to be Almighty God in me I know you are almighty God I know you could force me to be good but you won't and so I'm saying you have permission you have my permission to do whatever it takes. To do whatever you need to do in me the tempted one needs to understand the true force of the Will this is the governing power in the nature of man the power of decision of choice everything depends on the right action of the will desires for goodness and purity are right as far as they go but if we stop here they will avail I'm just a little bit that one says nothing they will feel nothing many will go down to ruin while hoping and desiring to overcome their evil propensities they do not yield the will to God Everything depends on the right use of the will and you know the right use the will of the right use the will to joyfully say Lord here's my Will I'm given to God. I want God to be Almighty God in me God has given us the power of choice it's a wonderful thing it's also a bit scary the power of choice is really our only true power and throughout eternity it will be our only true power think about that for a minute when Noah was preaching for one hundred twenty years and there was this vast multitude of people who'd been living for hundreds of years before the flood how many of those precious old was God able to save on the ark remember eight eight. Hundred twenty years of teaching and he only got eight when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone how many people was he able to save that vast metropolis of precious souls how many of those people was he able to save three three and he tried to save the force he went he actually grabbed her by the hand of supplies come out of the city and he got out of the city but what happened. God can take lots wife out of Sodom but he can't force Saddam out of Lot's wife. He cannot save us unless we let Him we have to use our free choice to let him be Almighty God in us our God is a gentle God Here's one of my favorite descriptions of the gentle God in Scripture behold my servant whom I have chosen my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased I will put my spirit upon him and he should proclaim justice to the Gentiles He will not quarrel no cry out nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets a batter read he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not put out until he leads justice to victory can you think of anything more delicate than a battered Reed or a smoldering Wick and what does it take to put out a small room with just a brief careless puff of wind that's gone. Our God is a gentle God our God is like a giant living among games without stepping on the tiniest toes it's supernatural it's impossible except our God can do it our God is like a powerful bull running through a china shop at full speed without breaking the tiniest Cup That's our God it's impossible but our God can do it our God is almighty but he's gentle perhaps one of the saddest word pictures in all scriptures is found in Revelation three we all know this Jesus is standing at the door and what he's saying Behold I'm here I'm standing I'm knocking and waiting isn't that kind of a sad word picture here's an actual painting called The Light of the world a copy of which hangs in St Paul's Cathedral in London England I was actually on the steps of that cathedral I want to see this picture really bad so I was going to go and I was to say I'm going to see this and when I got to the door they want to sixty euros to get inside the exit on the Internet better. But here is this is this picture of a gentle God. Standing at the door and knocking there's two very fascinating things about this picture you can't see very well but one of the things is it doesn't have a handle meaning of course that can only be opened from the inside and the other interesting thing about this picture is it has a lot of weeds growing up in front of it does not look like those doors been open for a while. Discovered need a handle to get in and of course God can get through the strongest door with a little slip of the finger blow the hinges right off. God does not need a handle except he is a gentle God He is a knocking God He will not force you to be blessed it's a choice that you have to make a difficult choice don't get me wrong it sounds easy but it's not only if you will be willing to make that choice or God is a knocking gone so it keeps us from opening the door to Jesus self keeps us from letting him. Tilt us toward the Sun of Righteousness. Self gets in our way self battles God as he fights to bless us and that is why self is the enemy we most need to fear no other victory we can gain will be so precious as the victory gained over self my friends self has got to go it is the root of the problem it is going to plague you all of your life unless you let God work powerful in your life to give you victory self is the enemy you most need to fear no matter what it takes no matter how radical the solution self has got to go on April twenty sixth two thousand and three Aron Ralston was climbing around in blue John canyon in Utah these tiny crevices in the earth with these boulders and as he was scrambling over one of these boulders the boulder shifted and it pinned his hand against the wall of the canyon and he was trapped fifteen feet below the surface of the earth with nobody around for miles and for three days he struggled with all of his might was every ounce of his ingenuity to get free from that rock he couldn't budge the rock and he couldn't get his hand out after three days running out of food and water he gave up he said I'm going to die here so he took out his camera recorded his last will and testament and he prepared to die you know what after he surrendered himself to death he had this thought he said you know what there's a way there's a possibility it's radical but it might just work so he snapped his arm broke the bones connected to the hand was pinned by the rock took out a dull pocket knife he had with him and he worked for an hour to cut his hand off. And the pain was so excruciating at times and he almost blacked out but then he would come to his senses again he was the I'm that much closer to being free and he kept on cutting. He's alive today because he was willing to do the radical thing. My friends and you and I are trapped to this earth by our flesh we are pinned to the earth just like he was. And it will kill us. And the only hope for us is if we do the radical thing are you willing to do the radical thing Jesus says in Matthew five thirty four hand cause you defend. OK Was Jesus asking us to mutilate our flesh or was he saying my friends do whatever it takes to be free of flesh do whatever it takes the only way that you are going to enjoy God The only way that you were going to relish him not just now but forever because Heaven is just heaven starts right now and just happened to last for eternity the only way that's going to happen is if we make that radical choice to give ourselves to him unreservedly. Unresistingly unrelentingly and he retrievable selfishness is in Iraq that our very being it has to come and it has come to us as an inheritance and has been cherished by by many as precious treasure no special work for God can be accomplished until self and selfishness are overcome my prayer of this evening is that every person in this room will be able to enjoy heaven for eternity will be able to relish God here on Earth and in heaven because they've been willing to make that radical choice. To give got all of their choices in every aspect of their life all the time let's pray. Heavenly Father God thank you for the choice that we have the power of choice. Father you've given us the choice of being free from self of enjoying you of relishing you for eternity I pray that you will help us to make the choice each one of us here father work powerfully in each one of our hearts right now grant that we would may make that choice. Not on the spur of the moment as this as a spiritual high but because we realize what we're getting into him we do it because we want you to be Almighty God in us all the time. Of thank you so much for this choice for the privilege of being able to make this choice and for the power that you give us to help us to do that we praise you thank you in Jesus' name amen this media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W audio verse or.

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