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TEXT: I Corinthians 6:19-20
SUBJECT: The Passion of Christ #24: Belong to Him
For the last several months we've been studying John Piper's book, The Passion of Jesus Christ. Divided into fifty short chapters, it explains why our Lord was crucified, or to put a finer point on it, why God sent His Son to the cross.
The word we're looking for here is salvation. God sent His Son to the cross to save us from our sin and misery. But what does this mean-'to save us?' It means a great many things. The one we'll look at tonight is not one of the best known or most loved. But it should be!
Jesus Christ suffered and died so that we might belong to Him.
The key word in the sentence is 'belong'. What does it mean? It depends on how you use it. 'Jerry belongs to the Republican Party' means one thing; 'The boots belong to Jerry' means something else. The first has to do with affiliation or support or membership; the second has to do with ownership. Even if Jerry is a fanatical Republican, the Party doesn't own him in the same way he owns the boots. If Jerry bought the boots for himself, they belong to him. They've got no say about it. They're his!
This is how the word is used in our chapter and the way I'll be using it in the sermon. Our Lord died so that we would belong to Him, or if you want to turn it around, He died in order to own us.
The language must not be watered down. The New Testament was written when most people in the known world were slaves. 'Bought with a price', therefore, was not a figure of speech! It meant just that. The going rate in Judea, at the time, was thirty pieces of silver. If a man plopped down his money for a slave, the slave became his property.
At first glance, this does not look very attractive. When I was a boy, I wanted to be a number of things-cowboy, soldier, fireman, cop, astronaut, baseball player, and a preacher. I never dreamed of being a slave, but that's what I am. Not because I'm a pastor, but because I am a Christian. Jesus Christ suffered and died, so that I would become His slave.
This is just what our verses teach. I Corinthians 6:19 says You are not your own. The topic is fornication. Paul says we mustn't use our bodies for that because our bodies are not our bodies! Using my body for that is like scratching out and doing donuts with somebody else's car! Near the end of v.20, Paul adds the word, spirit to body. This means none of me belongs to me! Both the outer man and the inner man belong to the Lord. Thus, my thoughts and feelings are to be pure, because I'm thinking and feeling them with the soul that also belongs to Christ.
Other verses teach the same thing. Doulos is a Greek word that occurs more than 200 times in the New Testament. In the Gospels, it commonly refers to some king of slave-a farm hand, a cook, a maid, and so on. But when we come to the Epistles, the word is most often applied to believers who are slaves of Jesus Christ. This goes for the big men, like Peter, James, John, and Paul, and for the rest of us too. Whatever our station in life, we are the servants (or slaves) of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a good thing. You never find Paul resenting his slavery to Christ or pining for away for the time it will be over. In fact, the opposite is true. He glories in it. He uses the title, 'servant' the way other men use or 'Doctor' or 'Senator'. He takes it for a great honor, and he's right because it is.
Three things make it a high honor.
Firstly, being the servant of Christ means you're not the servant of self, sin, and Satan. The three belong together because-in the end-they're one and the same thing. If you do what you want to do, you sin because that's what you want to do. And, if you sin, you serve Satan because that's what he wants you to do.
Our Lord made this clear in John's Gospel 8:32, Whoever commits sin is the slave of sin. In Ephesians 2, Paul explains serving sin is another way of saying, 'serving the devil', And you, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience.
Some of this slavery is obvious. Think of a raging alcoholic or a heroin addict. Drinking and drugs are ruining their lives, deep down they know they are, but they can't stop; they're slaves of their own cravings and behind the craving is the devil. Drug-addled people have often claimed to see the devil. We tend to dismiss their visions (like pink elephants), but I don't think we should.
Other slavery is more subtle. I know a woman who served her bitterness; for thirty years she dwelt on the wrong her pastor had done her. Did he do her wrong? Yes he did, I know the case well. But he didn't forge her chains; she did it herself. Pride is a bondage, so is envy, self-pity, laziness, uncleanness, impatience, covetousness, greed, stubbornness. These things take over our lives and control us. And we'll never shake free of them. We can change one for another, trade in three for two or two for three, but that's the best we can do. Sinners can no more lift themselves out of what they are than a man can lift himself off the ground by pulling his own hair! Slavery to sin cannot be broken by sinners. That's why,
If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
Secondly, being the servant of Christ means you're free. This is a paradox: no one is more enslaved than the man who is free of Christ, and no one is more free than the man who is enslaved to Christ.
Because 'freedom' doesn't mean 'doing whatever you want', but 'wanting and doing what you ought to want and do'.
Neil eats whatever he wants, and what he wants is six helpings at every meal, ten meals a day, and a gallon of ice cream at bedtime. Dean has three moderate meals a day with a cup of ice cream for dessert. Which man is free? If 'freedom' means doing whatever you want, Neil is. But is he? Most of us would say he's enslaved to his food. Dean is the free man because he has submitted his appetite to the Lordship of Christ.
Being the servant of Christ means you serve.Christ! This speaks for itself. No honor excels this one: when believers do the Lord's will-whether it's preaching a sermon or changing a diaper-he is serving the Lord Jesus Christ, pleasing Him, and advancing His cause in the world. What archangels are unworthy to do, we're invited to do, and even when we botch it up, it's still a sweet smelling savor, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
THE POWER AND WHERE IT COMES FROM
I can often do what I want to, but that's the problem: where do I find the want to? The short answer is God. Piper says,
Most of the time we are free to do what we want. But we are not free to want what we ought. For that we need a new power. The power is God's. God is the one who grants 'repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth, that we may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will' (II Timothy 2:25-26).
The power He gives us to obey comes by way of the cross. Piper says,
The purchase that unleashes this power is the death of Christ. 'You are not your own, for you were bought with a price'. And what price did Christ pay for those who trust Him? He 'obtained them with His own blood' (Acts 20:28).
God gives us the power to will and do His good pleasure. And the power comes to us because Jesus Christ bought it for us at the infinite cost of His own life.
This means Christians are free-not to do what we want-but to want what is good. While an unsaved man can only mock at holiness, devotion to the Lord, and the joys of heaven, believers want these things. Our desires are not perfect, but they are real. The Lord has given them to us, and if we want more wanting, He'll give us that as well.
The Gospel, therefore, provides what the Law can only command. The Law commands us to be holy, but that's all it does: command us. All the blessings of obedience cannot make us want it, and all the curses of disobedience cannot make us flee it. But where the Law fails, the Gospel succeeds. It makes us holy-not by issuing a stricter law, harsher punishments or richer blessings, but by giving us the power to obey because Christ died for us.
Here is where obedience ceases to be burdensome and becomes freedom.
This means, if you want to live a holier life, you meditate on the Gospel more than on the Law, and the Law only in light of the Gospel! Thus, you don't come to the Law as a way of winning God's favor-or keeping it! You have God's favor because Christ died for you, and because He died for you, you'll always have God's favor. In short, we obey because we're in Christ, and not as a way of getting into Christ.
It also means we ought to bring up our children on the Gospel. Many parents mention the Gospel to their kids, but they hammer away at the Law day and night. The parents don't mean to do it, but they leave the impression that God is hard to please. But that's not true: God is impossible to please!
Unless you're perfect. Which only Christ is. And, by putting our trust in Him we receive His perfection charged to our account. Make sure your kids know that God is kinder than the kindest man in the world, and that He's eager to forgive them.
Piper closes the chapter with a reminder, a question, and an invitation,
Remember, you are not your own. The ultimate question is not, who you are, but whose you are. Whose will you be? If Christ's then come and belong.
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