Monthly Archives: August 2015

Glorifying God

In the early 1700’s there was a revival movement that swept through the American Colonies known as The Great Awakening.  This massive movement of the Holy Spirit was led by a young pastor by the name of Jonathan Edwards.  Jonathan was born in 1703 and The Great Awakening took hold of New England in 1734 with Jonathan Edwards leading the way. 

He was a godly young man with a very strong passion for Christ, His Word and the Church.  In his early twenties he composed some life goals which he called resolutions.  Listen to some of the personal resolutions he made.

“Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.”

“Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.”

“Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

“Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.”  

Prior to the Great Awakening in the 1600’s, the church was going through quite a few changes.  In 1646 over a hundred theologians met at Westminster Abbey to draw up what would come to be known as The Westminster Confession.  Part of what came out of that confession was a defining statement about what our life purpose is to be as believers in Jesus Christ.  It said this . . . “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”     

Regardless of the era, one thing has not changed.  Every generation has always been obsessed with answering the questions, “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?”  The answer to those questions will determine the who, what, when, where and how of life.  Ask people these questions and you will get a wide range of responses.

Tom Brady who is an MVP, a Super Bowl Champion, and an All-Star Quarterback for the New England Patriots once said in an interview, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be … I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find.”

We live in a culture today that is really a lot about “me.”  Social media has allowed us to usher in the “selfie” generation.  In case you don’t know what a “selfie” is, it is people using their smart phones to take personal photos of themselves and posting them on social media . . . Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.   The ones that really concern me are the ones that show them behind the wheel of a car.  I wonder if they are taking while they are driving or sitting still.  If we are not careful we can slip into a culture and a generation that is defined primarily by self-promotion. 

It is very easy to begin thinking that life is all about me.  We can become obsessed with questions like, “Do I like this?” . . . “Will this benefit me?” . . . “How does this make me feel?” . . . “Does this make me happy?” . . . “What’s in it for me?”  It can become a “Me, Me, Me” and “Mine, Mine, Mine” mentality.  But the hardest statement for many of us even as Christ-followers to admit is, “It’s not about me!”  God’s life goal for you is not your happiness, but your holiness!  Life is not about how to make you happy but how to make you holy!

Deep down inside all of us know there has to be more to life than just life itself and life is really more than just us.  If we could get an audience with Tom Brady this morning we could tell him, “There is something greater out there for all of us.”  That something greater is what the Westminster Confession says and most importantly what God’s Word says we are to be about.  We are to live in such a way that we glorify God or bring glory to His name! 

When we talk about glorifying God or bringing glory to God what do we really mean?  Glorify is similar to the word beautify.”  Beautify means to improve something’s beauty.  What we do not mean is that we are adding something to God.  God is complete and cannot be added to or improved.  So when we talk about glorifying God it is not like beautify. 

Glorify is more like the word magnify.  It is more like the magnification of a telescope rather than a microscope.  A microscope takes something really small and make it appear larger than what it really is.  When we glorify God it is like using a telescope because with a telescope you make something massive and awesome visible for what it already is.   

 The church in Corinth was established by Paul at the end of his second missionary journey.  Corinth was a very popular and wealthy city due to where it was located.  Many tradesmen came through Corinth.  Corinth was a Greek city made up of a very diverse group people from varying backgrounds.  The church at Corinth was by far the most carnal church that Paul ever dealt with.  In 1 Corinthians 6, he was addressing some specific sinful behaviors but it has some general applications. 12 ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12).  Evidently this phrase, “All things are lawful for me” (1 Corinthians 6:12) had become an extremely common phrase at this point for people at Corinth.  Paul even says it twice in the same verse. 

Their thought was, “Well, now that I am free, everything is okay for me to do.”  This is actually something that Paul teaches at other points in the New Testament.  In Christ you are free!  The problem is they had taken that truth and warped it to think that, “Well, because I’m free, I’m free to do whatever I want.  Everything is lawful or permissible for me.”  They had not reformed their attitudes and behaviors since coming to Christ.

And Paul tells them,  “All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful.” (1 Corinthians 6:12). He says, “Don’t ask if you have the right to do something. Ask if it is helpful or beneficial?” Literally it means, “Is this of advantage?” The word Paul uses in 1 and 2 Corinthians for “helpful” (1 Corinthians 6:12) or “beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12) usually refers not only to a benefit or help to us but the emphasis is more on a benefit to others. 

It is really asking, “Is what I’m getting ready to do a benefit for me and more importantly is it a benefit for others?” In other words, “How will what I am getting ready to do affect me and those around me?”  Will this hurt me or help me?”  “Will this hurt others around me or help others?”  “Will this hurt the cause of Christ or will it help the cause of Christ?” 

Paul repeats that phrase again and then he says, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12).  This is the way sin works. It gets in our minds and our emotions and our bodies and it controls and gradually begins to take over.  Once we have given in to sin, before long it will begin to control and dominate everything about us until it has destroyed us. 

There is one thing that should control or dominate us.  14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  Because of what Christ has done for us in sacrificing Himself on the cross for our sins, we should be controlled by His love to always do what pleases Him.

When Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, he was specifically addressing sexual sin.  The people had been engaged in sexual activity with prostitutes and Paul was letting them know this was not acceptable activity for them now that they were Christ followers.  But this addresses much more than just sexual sin.  This passage applies to any and all sinful behavior we might be involved in. 

It involves everything we are thinking about, watching, participating in, etc.  It encompasses everything in your mind and your body.  The question is, “What part of your body is not bringing glory to God?”  Paul explains how once you become a Christian you totally belong to God.  Every part of your being (physically, mentally and emotionally) belongs to God.  17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17).  This joining and becoming one with the Lord is the Holy Spirit taking up residence within us.  Paul compares this to the temple.  19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19).    

This is the beautiful picture at the end. We don’t have time to go into Old Testament history but let me just remind you about the temple.  This was the place where God’s presence dwells among His people.  This was not just a normal sanctuary like we have now and you come into this place. This was “the place” and where God’s glory dwelled among His people.  The temple was the place where God’s holiness drew the nations to Himself.  That’s what He says over and over again throughout the Old Testament. He says, “I’m going to draw the nations to see my greatness and to see my holiness in the temple.”  That is the picture we’ve got in the Old Testament.

You get to the New Testament, Jesus Christ says, “I’m the temple. I’m the place where you meet the glory of God. You want to see the presence of God? Here, I’m drawing the nations to myself.” He goes to a cross, He dies, He rises from the grave, He ascends into heaven, He sends His Holy Spirit and now, you and I, just as the temple in the Old Testament housed the presence of the living God, you and I house the presence of the Spirit of God in our bodies. Is that not one incredible truth.  Within our bodies we possess His presence as the church! And the beauty of this is you have the Holy Spirit in you which needs to be guarded. 

Don’t forget the Holy Spirit is the only One who has power to help you overcome sin, help you conquer sin.  He is living in you so you are not going out and fighting the body alone. You’ve got the Holy Spirit of God in you for that purpose!  As a result of the Holy Spirit taking up residence within you and becoming one with you, you must live for Him and not for yourself.  Don’t give in to the sinful desires that are attempting to lure you away from God but choose to glorify God. 

I mentioned a few minutes ago that Paul repeated the phrase in 1 Corinthians 10. “All things are lawful” (1 Corinthians 10:23).  In that section he is addressing the danger of idols and eating in temples that are dedicated to idols.  Everyone of us if we are not careful can have idols in our lives . . . things that take the place of God. They might not be made of wood, plastic or metal.  They may not be sitting on a shelf, but there can still be idols in our lives.  When he closes out that thought he goes right back again to the challenge to glorify God.  31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

When you combine 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Corinthians 10, what are the motivations for glorifying God?  19 . . . You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  We glorify God because of the value Jesus placed on your life by giving His life for yours.  Out of gratitude and respect to God, glorify Him instead of gratifying yourself.  

In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul says, 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33).  Our goal for making the choices that we make and living the way we live should always be to win people to Christ.  We glorify God because we want to bring people to Christ not push them away from Christ!  Before we do anything we need to ask, “How will what I am getting ready to do affect me and those around me?”  Glorifying God is the most important part of our existence. God’s glory is intertwined throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  God’s glory is in His character and His creation.