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How Grace Changes Us? (Part 11): Endurance

Sunday English Service – 06 FEB 22


We’ve been preaching about abounding grace, talking about how the grace of God changes our lives. Sin comes in and ruins our lives. And the grace of God comes in, and not only makes right everything that has been ruined, but makes everything more beautiful and wonderful than ever. That’s where Paul says, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Sin is powerful, but grace is much more powerful. What sin can do, grace cannot only outdo, it can completely turn it around and make it very beautiful. So we’re talking about how Grace changes us. In this we went to 1 Corinthians chapter 13, which is a chapter on love the famous chapter. And verse three in 1 Corinthians 13, is the key to understanding what Paul is trying to say. He says, if I give all I possess to the poor, and give over my body to hardship, that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. What he’s saying really is we can say in another way, we can say that he is stating here that it is possible for a person to be very moral and ethical externally, and do extraordinary good works, such as giving everything that one possesses to the poor, and giving his body to be burned, even. And yet not have love, if not be motivated by love. In other words, a person may not be touched by the grace of God at all, may not have the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart at all, may not have been changed at all in his heart, there is no heart change, yet he can do extraordinary good works, possibly says because there are other motivations, the NIV translation which I just read to you, it says, if I give all I possess to the poor, and give my body to hardship that I may boast. Here one motive is attributed here. He does it in order to boast. People do things for various reasons for their own selfish reasons because they desire power, maybe they need a position they need a name, and a fame and so on who we don’t know who does what, for what motive, but it is possible we can say generally that it is possible for a person whose heart has never been changed, never been touched by God and changed to do extraordinary good words. After saying that he goes into verse four, and talks about the marks of a changed heart. Heart changed by the power of God. 

Let me read to you verse four onwards, love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always endures. Now we’ve been taking one mark of a changed heart at a time and I’ve been dealing with that. Last week we dealt with how love rejoices with the truth, a changed heart, one of the mark a changed heart is that it rejoices with the truth and truth is told it rejoices. Now that’s a very big issue. Somebody tells you what’s wrong with you. The hardest thing talks up to you, but a heart that is changed is teachable heart. It is a heart that will listen, it is a heart that is humble enough to receive the truth. Not only receive the truth, but rejoice over the truth because that is going to work towards the improvement of that person. Alright, today we’re going to look at verse seven, the last item in verse seven. Love endures, love endures. Now various translations translated differently. But endurance is probably the best translation, love endures. Now the way we deal with this is we read the mark of the change heart here. And it states it always in one or two words here just simply says love endures. So we go to another passage where this matter is dealt with in great detail, a longer passage where it is dealt with in some detail. So let’s do that. Go to 1 Corinthians nine, please. And let me read to you from verse 23. 

1 Corinthians nine, verse 23, all the way to verse 27. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the price. Run in such a way as to get the price. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last. But we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly. I do not fight like a boxer beating in the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make my sling so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the price. Now, verse 25, I believe is the key. This whole passage is about runners, athletes running, they all run but only one gets the prize, he says. So he’s talking about a race where athletes are running. And they run to get a price. And he’s telling us run in such a way to get a price. He is describing this life as a race that we run. And then he says in verse 25, everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training, strict training. Now, the actual word some translations will have it as everyone who competes in the games is trained in self-control. The training is about self-control. So today, we’re going to talk about the self-control and you may say what is what does it have to do with endurance, it will see the relationship between self-control and endurance as we begin to teach on this. 

So self-control is the subject here. He is saying that everyone that runs has to go as undergo training in self-control, they need to rule themselves be able to be in command of themselves. And only then can they win. Now that it is not really true about the race and the athletes. It is also true about life. Self-control is a very essential quality in life. These days you will see a lot of people that have no self-control, they are into various destructive addictions that cause devastation in their lives. Addictions such as drinking, drugs, gambling, whatever, all kinds of addictions, but there are those people that don’t go into these destructive addictions but yet, they also have this issue with self-control, they have a problem of self-control. There are many people that destroy their lives simply by not able to exercise control over their tongue, the way they use their tongue, or they can’t control their time and use it effectively. They cannot control their thoughts and channel it effectively and so on. So this is the real issue in Christian life. And the Paul is talking about that here and he says, look, I have self-control. I’ve learned self-control. I can teach what self-control is and how you can get it because he says I do not run like someone running aimlessly. I do not fight like a boxer beating in the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the price. He says I can really teach you because I’ve been learning this, and I understand this. And I can teach you this, he says. So we’re going to look at it from this passage, mainly, we’ll go to other passages also. We’re going to look at it in two ways. First, we’re going to look at some principles that explain to us the nature of what self-control is. Nature of what self-control is. And then secondly, we’ll look at some very specific ways of how to go about practicing self-control, specific ways of going about increasing it in our lives, and carrying it out and practicing it in our lives. So let’s look at the principles First, the principles about what the nature of self-control is, what is self-control? Simply says self-control here, but it puts it in the context where we can easily understand the context of athletes running in race, how they exercise, self-control, what he means is this. In all things, they exercise self-control. Now, in the Tamil language, the word is [Foreign Language 00:11:28] for those who don’t know Tamil, [Foreign Language 00:11:31] that is desires, and other come is control of desires. Human beings have a capacity to have desires, we do not preach a religion that advocates having no desires. I believe God works through desires. Suppose God wants you to be a doctor, for example, he doesn’t usually come at night and wake you up through an angel and tell you need to be a doctor. Most probably how we will deal with you is put a desire in your heart. And that desire grows over a period of time and you become very filled with that desire, passionate about that thing and consider that as a call on your life, and begin to study and get serious, and go into the profession. That’s how it happens. 

So God uses desires, when you talk about desires, sometimes people think all desires are wrong. Christianity is not like that. In Christianity, we teach that there are good desires and there are bad desires. And desire is one of the ways that God deals with our heart and changes the direction of our lives and leads us and guides us and so on. So desire is not something bad. So, the Tamil translation talks about it as the controlling of our desires, every human heart has various desires, we have desires going in 1000 directions about various things and what self-control is, what this control of desires has to do with this is that when a person understands how he must prioritize his desires, and order his desires, so that he understands what must be the chief desire of his life, the number one desire, he understands what the number two desire ought to be, and what number three desire ought to be and so on. He knows how to prioritize the desires, it is talking about prioritizing the desires, it is not talking about getting rid of desires, it is not saying desires are bad, it is talking about ordering the desires, bringing them into a certain order instead of them just acting whichever way they want. Putting them in order. That’s what this is talking about. And athletes do it. I’m sure they have desire to eat. Athletes have a desire to eat just like everybody else. And desire to eat is not wrong. Bible doesn’t say so God has given us the ability to eat. One old man used to say you should not enjoy your food when you eat. If you’re a Christian, you will just swallow your food and it must strengthen you but you should not enjoy it, because that is very worldly. I used to keep quiet because he’s an elderly man. 

But finally, I asked him well, if I’m just supposed to swallow the food, why didn’t God just make the tongue like the spoon, that I just wrap the food up? Why did he put the nerves there in the tongue that helps me to taste the food. So God wants you to eat plus tastes. And God wants you to have a desire to eat and all that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But have you noticed that athletes are very careful about their eating? Athletes, they’re very careful about thir eating. They don’t eat anything that they see. Some people believe in seafood, that means you eat anything that you see. But athletes don’t eat what they see, they eat, what their trainer tells them to eat. It’s well studied, it’s a scientific thing for them. They know exactly how many calories they can eat, what kind of food they must eat, how much quantity they must eat, and then all prescribed to them in order to win that race. They follow that meticulously, and they have trainers for all these things, and coaches for all these things. Similarly, with their exercise, they don’t exercise only when they’re able to exercise but they find time to exercise, they make exercise arrangement in their life, they just go through it every day, very carefully. And they go through a certain course of training every single day, do certain things very regularly developing their skills, and strengths and stamina, and so on. So, in eating they’re careful, in exercising, they’re careful, in sleeping, they’re careful also. They can’t afford to not sleep well. Because if they don’t sleep well, they won’t be able to perform at the optimum level. So they’re required to sleep a certain number of hours and take rest, and so on. Rest is very important. But you can’t be sleeping all the time, that won’t make a good athlete, also. 

So what this passage is saying is it’s talking about the life of athlete and it’s implying that they take such care, and control, exercise control in all matters in their lives, in all things, they exercise self-control, they put every part of their body in the place where it belongs, I mean, they give importance to every part of their life, literally. Everything is ordered, and put in proper place in their lives. Eating has a place, sleeping as a place and exercising has a place, everything has a proper place in their life. It’s got timing, it’s got quantity, and all of that is determined. They exercise great care in all of these things. Now that is what self-control is. Self-control is being able to understand and recognize what is the most important thing. If a person doesn’t understand what is the most important thing in life, that leads to defeat in life. The main issue in people’s life is they don’t understand what the number one issue in their life should be, what the number two issue in their life should be, what the number three issue in their life should be. So self-control is the ability to recognize and always choose the important thing rather than the urgent thing, for example. Something may be urgent, but it may not be very important. You need to attend to the urgent later on, but attend to the fundamental the most important thing first. And the wise person understands that. And so the desires are properly ordered, so that everything goes on with great self-control. So this passage tells us first of all about what self-control is. It is about ordering your life with the right priorities and understanding the priorities. 

Secondly, Paul tells us that self-control is not a matter of will, not matter of mind. I just can’t determine that I’m going to do this and end up doing that. It has to be something more than just the will and the willpower and determination. Will, will power determine they’re all good. But it doesn’t work. The Bible says it and even practical life tells it. It doesn’t work. How many decisions you made on January 1st. Now we’re in February already things are forgotten. We made the decision January 1st and by the time February comes around, it’s all back to normal because we make determinations, we make decisions, we decide certain things, we use our will and all of that but things, it needs much more than just the willpower to do it. What is it that it needs? It needs a passion from the heart for the thing. It is only if you have the passion for the thing, then the will and all of that goes with that, and works. If you don’t have a passion for something, you are not going to pursue that thing. Now, I’ll give you a wonderful example from the Bible itself. You heard the story of Jacob. Very interesting story. But I don’t know if you notice this about that. In Genesis chapter 29, Jacob ran from his house, from his home after he cheated his brother, ran for his life, and went over to his uncle’s place far away to his native place. And as he approached the house, he saw one of his uncle’s daughters named Rachel. It was love at first sight. So even near the Bible says, and kiss her and then approached the father in law, for the bride, told him that he wanted to marry this girl, he likes this girl very much, he is just captivated by this girl, he wants to marry this girl, he is mesmerized by her, I suppose. 

And the father-in-law, Jacob is a very cunning crafty fellow, he has already cheated his brother, he is running from his home. His father-in-law is worse than Jacob. In this way, he’s the greatest cheater in the world. So when he goes to his father in law, his father in law decides to keep him and extract as much from him by way of work and other things. So the father in law tells him alright, you like my daughter, we will give you the daughter, work for seven years. Prove yourself, then we’ll give you the daughter. So he worked for seven years, and we know all that. But have you read this about that? How can a man stand to work for seven years for a woman? And I preach about this? I think some of the young people are looking, what nonsense is this? Some guy worked for a girl for seven years? Some of you are already saying no, not me. Not even for seven days. But he worked for seven years, just imagine how seven years would have taken, it would have been a drag, he would have taken like ages, he would have felt like ages, I would think but listen to what the Bible says. Chapter 29 Verse 20, in Genesis, so Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her, it seemed like it was just a few days to him, because of the love that he had for her. Now, why I’m reading this is because I want to show you, you got to have some kind of a passion in order to exercise self-control. Self-control does not just come by a decision of your mind, an act of your will. It has to have the backing off this passion of your heart. It is a matter of the heart, not just the mind or will. So this guy worked for seven years, and because he loved her, it says the seven years seemed like a few days to him. That’s amazing, isn’t it? Every day he’d get up and go and work for the father-in-law. Later on, he talks about the father-in-law and he leaves his father in law’s place after 20 years. He tells his wives he married two girls of his father-in-law. Tells his wives about their father. He says your father is a terrible man. I worked for him for 20 years. He wanted to send me home empty handed. Look what he has done. He promised me wages, but 10 times he cheated me he never paid me what he promised. Every time the time to pay the wages comes, he will always have some reason why he can’t pay what he said. He will pay me less and say next time we’ll see. 10 times he changed his wages. And if even one ship was lost, it was deducted from his salary. So Laban his uncle must have been a tough guy. Very hard to work for him. But this guy went in gladly worked for him. Every morning he would work, go get up and was working and sweating and going through all kinds of hardships. And he never felt the pain it looks like. It was just like a few days. The days were running just like that seven years. Went by just like that. Finally they had the wedding, I think they had it in a five star hotel, dim light wedding. And they switched the bride, the father of the bride gave the wrong one, the one that he did not like, another daughter. And this guy woke up the next morning and found out this is the wrong girl and went and reported to the father-in-law. And the father-in-law coolly said, well, don’t worry, work for another seven years, and I will give you the daughter that you like. 

So believe it or not, he worked for another seven years, it must have been just like a few days again, because he loved her so much, just like a few days because of this passion he had for her, because of the way he loved her, he could just stay there and work forever, it seems like, and it just makes it look like few days. Now that shows you how passion is the thing that is needed in order to work self-control in our lives, you’re going to be controlled by the passions that control you. Basically, that’s why self-control or anything else. It’s passion that counts. Now for those of you that say, well, I won’t be working for a girl for seven years or 14 years. I’ll tell you another story. It’s a much more simple plain and simple story, help you understand that passion is the thing that counts, is not just the determination of the will to have self-control. You need to have passion. A guy took two young boys, and he put one of them in a room. And they told him for four hours you do this work that I tell you and I’ll pay you minimum wages. In some of these countries, they have minimum wages. And so he promised to pay minimum wages, which is very little. All he has to do is just sit there and tear a piece of paper and keep putting it to the side. For 12 hours, he’s got to do it. Stay there can’t go out. So the guy sat there and did it. He found it very tedious, very tiresome, just can’t wait for it to be over. But he took the other guy and put him in another room and told him the exact same thing to do. Tier the paper and put out put it on the site for 12 hours. And he told him that he will pay him $2 million. 10 crores, four crores, something like that. And that guy for that guy. He was happy to tier the paper and put it. He was gladly working. He was very enthusiastic about it. He’d work a few more days if he wanted. He had no qualms about working for this guy. 

See the motivation. The passion is the thing that drives the guy. In any person, it is a passion that controls the person. Whatever passion they have, that is what controls that person and is very clear even in in the world. They will own the Bible. But the Bible clearly teaches that it is not a matter of the will but it is a matter of the heart. There was a great Scottish preacher named Thomas Chalmers. And he said this I’d like to read this to you. He is an old preacher but wonderful. He says we only cease to be a slave of one appetite because another has brought it into subordination. To get rid of one wrong habit or evil habit. And to cease to be a slave of one appetite, you have to bring it into subordination to another. In other words, he says you bring another appetite another thing that attracts him and captivates him. If he likes that more than this then this guy is going to leave this, he says a youth might cease to idolize sensual pleasure and partying around but it’s only because I will have material gain and carrier success as gotten the ascendancy. Guy is going partying all the time not interested in studying doing anything, all of a sudden you find him completely changed. He is transformed what has happened? Something has happened to him. What has happened? All of a sudden, he learned that in a particular profession, he’s got the best chance of coming up and really earning well and establishing himself and that gives them the motivation so he forgets about going to the parties and fooling around and goes in and studies and gets serious. This aim to make some money and earn some money and establish himself changes him so tread totally. He says there’s not one personal transformation in which the heart is left without an ultimate object of beauty and joy it’s desire for one particular object may be conquered, but it’s desire to have some object is unconquerable. 

Otherwise, he says you’ve got to have some object that the person considers very attractive, very delightful, he is attracted to drawn to it. That is how transformation happens, transformation cannot happen. Even habits cannot be conquered. Otherwise, you got to have something better than that to offer. Only when the offered that, this is forgotten, he says. The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one. The new desire comes in, the new attraction comes in, so the old one is ejected from life. Amazing truth inputted beautifully there. So the third thing that this passage tells us. First it tells us what self-control is, it’s the ability to discern and understand the priorities of life. What comes first, second, third, and so on. Secondly, it is not just a matter of the will, but it is a matter of the heart. There’s got to be a heart passion, which drives us to do something, that’s how self-control is going to happen. Thirdly, Paul tells us that there’s only one ultimate goal. Only one ultimate passion that will truly give you that inner sense, or a sense of right order of priorities. Only one thing, only one ultimate passion will give you the self-control, he says. This sense of prioritizing your life in the right way. Only one passion will do it. What is that passion? He talks about it here. Let’s read it. 

In 1 Corinthians nine, he says, do you not know? Verse 24, do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the price. Run in such a way as to get the price. So notice the word price, the price is the motivation. The price is the ultimate passion. That’s the thing that provides the passion, the guy is running, an athlete is running to get a price. The price is very important to him to get a name to get fame and get money or whatever comes with it, a career, whatever he’s dreaming of, it becomes his passion. That is what makes him get up. That’s what makes him exercise every day. That’s what makes him eat right. That’s what makes him sleep right. That’s what makes him a man of self-control in all areas of his life. Because the price, the price is a very precious price. Now, what is the price? Everyone who competes the games goes into strict training, verse 25. They do it to get a crown, the price is a crown. A crown that will not last. But we do it to get a crown that will last forever. As soon as the Bible talks about crown, we immediately think that one day when we die, we’ll go to heaven, and we’ll get a crown in heaven. That’s what immediately we’re made to think of, if you’ve been in the church and read the Bible for a while and heard some preaching, immediately think the crown has to do with going to heaven, standing before God and you’re crowned as a reward for everything that you have done here on this earth. But if you decide to think of it like that, it’s completely a contradiction of everything that Paul has ever said and taught in his epistles, particularly in Romans and Galatians. He doesn’t teach about somebody working so hard to get a crown.

He is not teaching about how our works is the thing that is going to get a crown. The crown that we will get is not because of our words, it is by the grace of God, it is God’s gift to us. It is God who has forgiven our sins, taken us in and made us a part of his family and so on. So Paul never preached the works based religion, he preached the grace based religion and if you think that you got to be like this athlete, exercise great self-control, work so hard, go through strict training in order to get a crown. That is totally a different theology, that’s a different theology, that’s totally against what Paul has ever taught. So what does this crown mean? What crown is he referring to? He certainly not referring to him beating his own body, and really worried about himself, because when he gets there to heaven, he may not get the crown. That’s not the way he’s talking about it. He is not saying, well, I’m working so hard, because I don’t know if I get there. I will get my crown or not, will I be qualified or not? That’s not the way he’s talking about it here. What is this crown then? What is this passion that’s really bringing everything into control in this life and bringing self-control in this life. 1 Thessalonians chapter two, and verse seven, and eight. And then verse 19. But we were gentle among you. He is telling the people there, how he was among them. He says, we were gentle among you. He preached in Thessalonica and established the church there, remember? And he’s telling them, we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So affectionately longing for you. We were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because he had become dear to us. 

In Simple English, he says, not only did we bring the gospel to you and told you the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we were even ready to give our lives for you. That’s how much we loved you. Like a mother who feeds and nourishes her children. We were taking care of you, we gave you the gospel, and we taught you, and brought growth in your spiritual life, he says. And then he goes to verse 19. Look at what he says in verse 19. In continuation of that, he says, for what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing. He uses the word crown. He says, what is our hope, or joy or crown of rejoicing? He said, not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ that is coming. He says, when Jesus comes, the crown that he will receive is the people that he has led to Christ and thought and nurtured in Christ and brought up in Christ, these precious people that he loved, and he would have given his life for them if he needed, if they needed. He says that is his hope, his joy, and his crown of rejoicing. Look at Philippians, he considers the people as his crown. These people that have been changed, sinners that have been transformed, changed, powerfully by God’s grace, that’s his crown, he says. Look at Philippians chapter four, verse one, therefore my beloved and long for brethren, my joy and crown, so steadfast in the Lord, beloved. He is again talking to people and calling them his joy and his crown. 

So what’s going on here? What is he talking about? We read from one Corinthians nine, that metaphor of an athlete, or athletes running in a race. But the kind of teaching that he’s giving there comes from all the way from eighth chapter, to nine, the 10th, and 11th. And 12, then ends up in chapter 13, where he talks about love, it’s all connected. The thoughts are connected. I’ll show you how. In chapter eight, for example, he is talking about strong Christians and weak Christians. Remember, we talked about people that considered eating meat offered to idols as offensive, they didn’t understand that an idol is nothing and therefore if it ate it, it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t affect them in any way. Because these people came from such a background. They found it offensive to eat something sacrificed to idols because they were always worshipping the idols and therefore, they found it offensive, they could not take it. But there are other Christians that have the total limit like Paul he says, idols is in nothing, I can eat anything I want. It doesn’t bother me, he says. But that same Paul says in that same chapter, he says, in order to accommodate my brother who’s a weaker brother who does not understand this thing, the brother is a weaker brother because he doesn’t understand this concept that an idol is nothing. He is just new. He’s immature, he’s got to grow enough to understand. He is come fresh from the background, he finds it offensive, he says, because he finds it offensive in order to accommodate him in order to be useful to him and teach him and leave him and so on. I am even ready to stop eating meat completely. In order to make sure that that guy will listen to me that he will not find any offense in me, that he will not look at me and be offended at me eating meat, and reject my preaching itself. 

More important thing for me to teach him and preach him and lead him to Christ more, and have him grow. This matter of eating meat is nothing he says I can’t even stop eating meat for that brother for the sake of that brother, he says, and then he goes to nine chapter, he continues that same thought, where he says, for those who are without law, as without law. He is talking about him going among those who are Gentiles who don’t follow the law of the Jewish people. He says to those that are without law, the Gentiles, I am like a Gentile, I behave like a Gentile with them, I go there, sit with them, eat with them, and move with them in that way. Normally, a Jew has so many restrictions about his eating and all that. I forget all of that. I put all that aside, in order that I may wind some of them he says. Verse 21, to those who are without the law, as without the law, not being without the law toward God, but under law toward Christ. When I go to the Gentiles, I put away my food laws and all that, that we follow the Jewish religion. I don’t want to behave like a Jew and stay far away from the Gentile and all of that, I want to mix with them, talk with them, stay with them, eat with them, get along with them, forget the fact that I’m a Jew, I’m able to get along with them, he says. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten the law, I still respect the law. I still know the value of the law and so on. And then he says verse 22, to the weak I become as weak that I might win the weak. Again, the weak refers to people that can easily be offended and be turned off by the way he does things. He says to the weak, I become as weak that I may win the week I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. 

So he is saying I want to save some, by all means for that I’m ready to give up anything. I ready to put up with anything. I’m ready not to eat meat, I’m ready to give up this or that and change my habits, age old habits, habits that come from my birth, from my belonging to the Jewish background. So I’m ready to give up anything. In other words, I’m ready to put up with anything, I’m ready to endure anything, tolerate anything. I am ready to give up anything, he says. In Tamil, a beautiful word is used in translating that [inaudible 00:43:14] is to really put up with things. I’m ready to put up anything, no limits, he says. I’m ready to put up with anything. So that’s chapter nine. And why does he do it? In the very next verse, he says, now this I do for the gospel sake. I do it because of the gospel, he says that I may be partaker of it with you. The word partake is [inaudible 00:43:48] actually is joined to partake. It’s a prefix that makes a joint partaker or joint fellowship with you. In other words, the gospel is a rich inheritance that’s been given to us. And I have received it and I have it. And I want all the people that don’t know it yet to come and join and I want to bring many more into it into this inheritance lead them into it. Therefore, I am ready to do anything. I’m ready to become like a Gentile for the Gentile. Become like a Jew for the Jew. I’m ready to give up anything, take up anything in order to win or save some he says. So what he’s saying is this. He says I have this incredible blessing of the gospel. The passion of my life is to save other people. Both people who do not believe and people who don’t believe. I want them to have as much joy as I have. I want to share the things I see in the face of Jesus, I want to so reflect, he says.

I’m giving up everything in my life, I give up this, and that, and all kinds of things, I have forego all kinds of things because I want to reflect the beauty of God to other people. So they can have the same transforming view of the glory and the beauty of the one I’m looking at right now. Now, CS Lewis is someone that I really like. And his teachings are so good, and very thoughtful. And he says this, listen to this, you’ll be blessed. He says, have you ever noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise? If you enjoy anything, suppose you went and made a good meal today, and you enjoyed it and found the food very good. You’d want to immediately tell your loved ones as you’re sitting there eating, you’re remembering your wife, or husband or children who are at home, don’t know anything about this place, haven’t tasted this thing. You want to buy something for them and take home, or you want to bring them the next day here, so they can eat there. He says, have you ever noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise? If you enjoy something, you will end up praising that thing that you enjoyed, he says. We praise what we enjoy. Because the praise does not merely expressed, but completes the enjoyment. Until you praise something that you enjoyed, you haven’t really fully enjoyed. The enjoyment is completed only when you praise what you have enjoyed. That’s how God has made us he says. He says it’s absolutely frustrating to have discovered a new author, and not be able to tell anyone how good he or she is. That’s why I’m reading this to you. I read something, it blesses me and I learned something. And it’s such a enlightening thing. So I bring it here. 

And I delight in reading it to people. I don’t want to miss one word, I want to read it to them. And when I read it, that is when my joy is complete. I enjoyed it when I read it, but when I give it to others, and I praise it, when I talk about it, and read it to others, that is when my joy is complete, he says it’s incredibly frustrating to have found some mountain valley of unexpected Grandin and not be able to take anyone to it. Have you seen a wonderful sight of a mountain or valley or some amazing place, like the Grand Canyon or something like that, or Niagara Falls, or the Himalayan Mountains, you will immediately think, I should bring my wife here, I should bring my children here. I should bring my grandchildren here, they’ll enjoy it so much. You may think I must make it a point to bring them here to make them see this. This is something to be seen. That’s what he’s saying. You can’t enjoy it as much if you don’t praise it. And if you can’t tell about it to others, and give them that same experience, bring them to the place and show it to them. He is saying that you got to enjoy something without praising it to other people, and having them come in. That’s exactly what he says. Why? It’s not like I enjoy it. And now I’m going to praise it. It’s not that I’ve enjoyed it, so I’m going to praise it. No, he says I can’t enjoy it without phrase, totally different thing. It’s not that I’ve enjoyed and therefore praising. It’s that I cannot enjoy that thing without praising it. Praising is part of that enjoyment, he says. I can’t enjoy it without sharing it. I can’t. It’s the nature of things. It is the way God made me, it’s the way God put His own beauty into the world. I cannot enjoy it very well alone. I don’t want to enjoy it alone. Therefore everything in my life is subordinated to this one passion. 

Now all this I said in order to show you that it’s passion that’s very important, not just a matter of the will, it’s not just you deciding that you will have self-control. You need to be moved with a passion in your heart about something and that is what will control you and even self-control is like that. Now in the world, it works differently. The world sees it differently. They say that if you want to have self-control, you have to find that strength inside yourself that talks on philosophy, but finding that strength to control yourself, inner self control and all that. Paul says no, it’s the gospel, the power of God unto salvation. The gospel is a beautiful, wonderful thing. It’s better than any grand site that you can see anywhere. It’s better than all the mountain ranges in the valleys and the beautiful things in the world that you will stand astonished and want to bring others to see it. It’s more beautiful than anything. Once you’ve experienced it and seen it, and have known it and have enjoyed it, you will be filled with a passion you will be controlled by it, it says. So the gospel, in other words, for him, gives us the power to bring about self-control. It is the understanding of the gospel of who Jesus is what he has done. That is what leads to self-control, he says. So self-control happens as a byproduct of this passion that you have about something greater. That’s what he says. 

So the Bible tells us what self-control is, is the ability to discern what’s number one in life? What is number two, what is the number three. It’s able to prioritize. Secondly, it tells us it’s not a matter of the will, it is a matter of heart’s passion. Thirdly, it tells us this passion about this one thing, the Gospel, Jesus Christ, and what he has done. That is the thing that can bring about self-control. That’s the way the Bible teaches it. That’s the way all teaches it. In this passage, this earthly metaphor is for teaching that. Now, how does it practically work out? It practically works out like this. He says, in order for you to experience an increase in the area of self-control, you need to do three, four things. First is scripture must have number one place in your life, the word of God must have a very important place in your life. Turn with me to 10th chapter, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, there are three verses there, I want to point out to you. Verse 11, now all these things happen to them as examples. He is talking about the first 10 verses where he talked about what happened to the people of Israel, in the wilderness as they traveled out of Egypt, after they were delivered from Egypt, coming to the Promised Land, how God dealt with them, how they experienced God’s miracles, and so on. Yet they did not reach the promised land because of their unbelief. He makes it a lesson for all these people, and tells them, all these things happen to them as examples. And they were written for our admonition upon whom them so the ages have come. Look at this. They’re written for a lesson for us. Talking about the Old Testament, he says, these are all kept there for us, as the lesson so that we may learn from it. That is why the Scripture must have a very important place in our life if we need to endure. If we need to have a heart that endures. The heart must be filled with the scriptures. Look at Jesus. How he endured such suffering, how he endured such challenges. He was purposeful. He was purposeful in accomplishing the will of God. He came into the world, the Bible says saying you have given me a body to die. He knew he was very conscious about the fact that he was born to die. How would you feel if you’ve felt that you were born to die on a cross. And he lived for that purpose always going towards that. It’s very interesting. Every gospel talks about him going everywhere and then towards then these going towards Jerusalem, knowing very well that there he will be arrested, there he will be killed, he is going towards the event of the cross. 

And the way the Bible talks about this, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. He was so determined. So bent on going to Jerusalem, to do the will of the Father. Remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he praised at one point saying, Father, if it be thy will remove this cup of suffering from me. But then he realizes, that’s not possible because God has sent him to die. So he says, not my will, nevertheless, not my will, let your will be done, he says. And he’s sweating blood there. I mean, he is agonizing over the cross, thinking about how he’s going to bear the sin of the world, the curse of the world, the punishment of worlds sin. He is going through this great ordeal there in Garden of Gethsemane. Then in the end, he gets up and is ready to go to die. And the soldiers come looking for him. They didn’t come find him in some corner hiding, and then catch him. He was going to them and telling them, yeah, it’s me, let’s go. And Peter is a very basic guy. Just imagine he is a preacher with Jesus traveling with a knife. He took out his knife, and cut off the high priest’s ear. And you know what Jesus says at that moment, you know what Jesus is thinking? He said, don’t you know that if I asked the Father, He will send me 12 legions of angels, one legion is 6000, military language 12 legions of angels would have been sent, my father would have sent? Don’t you know that? Then he says, but if I had asked for 12 legions of angels to come, they would have rescued me from the hands of these soldiers who have come to arrest me, then what is written in the Scriptures, how will it be fulfilled? 

The scriptures talk about the cross, my suffering, my death, the atonement that is made there, and the work of salvation that happens for all humanity. This is the thing for which I’ve come. All scripture has prophesied about it. And I am looking forward to it. I’ve set my face to go to Jerusalem, and I’ve come here for that purpose. And if I call the angels, they’ll deliver me. And then the Scripture will not be fulfilled. He’s concerned about the Scripture being fulfilled. Secondly, when he hung on the cross with bleeding from head to toe, wounded, from head to toe, his body has become like a plowed field. The Bible says at one point, hanging there, everybody laughing at him, ridiculing him, spitting on him, talking about him, laughing at him. But there he hangs there. Amazing. How can a man do this? Hangs there? And he is thinking about Psalm 22:1. He is quoting from Psalm 22:1 saying, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? He’s seeing what is happening there, as the fulfillment of what the Psalmist spoke. He sees his life and his death as the fulfillment of what God has already said. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, he says. He is so saturated with the scriptures. Now I can understand how he endured. He had the endurance power, he could last forever. No trouble, no hardship, no challenges, no. Nothing in this world could cause him to give up. Not even the cross, hanging there, he endures. He endures till the end. 

Love endures, that’s what 1 Corinthians 13 says. Love endures. He is a perfect picture of self-control. He has mastery over himself. He has complete mastery over himself. His number one priority is God and God’s will. And that is why he has mastery over himself, completely endured. And how are you and I going to endure through life and the challenges of life through some hardships that we face sometimes. It’s very easy to get discouraged and give up on all of that. How are we going to endure? A lot of Christians don’t have endurance power, but a heart that is changed by the power of God is the heart that will cause you to endure, hardships are nothing, you will be able to put up with anything, give up anything, you will be able to face any challenge, any hardship, anything and get over it and get over on the other side. That’s how he endured. 

Secondly, verse 11, itself, all things happen in them to them as examples. And they were written, we talked about how the Bible is written for our admonition we should use that it will cause us to endure, face hardships and go, and then be victorious over them, upon whom, listen to this, upon whom the ends of the ages have come, it is written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come, it is written for people that will live in the end times. What is the end times? According to the Bible, the end time is when the Messiah comes. But the Messiah coming happens in two stages. One is he came 2000 years ago, as a child in Bethlehem and died on a cross and rose again and went back to the Father. That’s the first phrase. He brought the kingdom of God, the kingdom of God is here, it’s not completely here. It is here in an unseen way. We are in the kingdom; we are the children of the kingdom. So it has begun, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. And it is at work in an unseen way. But Jesus is going to come the second time. When he comes to second time, he’s going to do away with sin, the devil, and death. And all of these things, it’ll go to be a new world, new heaven and new earth and all of that, that is still about still yet to happen in two stages. Now, what this means is, this means that my expectations in this life must be a balanced expectation. What do I mean? Balance expectation means that sometimes when people give their life to Jesus, they think they’ll be changed just like that. Like one fella said, I took baptism yesterday, why am I not changed? He thinks that you took baptism and next day you will be completely changed. But when Jesus comes the second time, you’re going to be changed in the twinkling of an eye, the Bible says, just like that, you will be changed, completely transformed, you will have a body that never dies, and so on, just like that you will be changed. 

But now since we are living in between the old age and the new age. The old age is still there, the new age has come through Jesus Christ, but not fully come, and it is going to come in a complete way. Now change happens in steps, change happens in stages. Change happens progressively. That is how we are changed; we are changed from glory to glory to glory. Now through the word of God, day by day, we are changed. So our expectation of self-control and endurance and all of that is not an expectation that says overnight, I’ll have that. No, it is something that grows in us. There are others who do the other extreme, they go to the other extreme, they say, well, nobody can change me. It looks like nobody can change me, nothing can change me. That’s another extreme. Well, I’m here to tell you that the kingdom of God is here, the power of God is here. The Word of God is here. The Holy Spirit is at work. God’s grace is more powerful than sin. It can change you and it is changing you. You have given your life it is changing you. Thirdly, look at verse 12. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. There are some people that think they have arrived, that they don’t need anyone else, they can stand on their own, and so on. And to those that think that they have arrived, Paul have something to say. He says, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he follow. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man. But God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you’re able but with the temptation will also make a way of escape that you may be able to dare it. 

What is he saying? He says, there is a purpose why God has put us in a community like this community of believers. This is so important. If you isolate yourself from the community and you say I don’t have, I don’t need anybody, I can, I have arrived, I don’t need nobody. So then one day you’re going to be facing some problems, and you will think that you are facing problems that nobody else faced. How many people have told me sometimes, look, brother, I don’t think anybody would have suffered like I have. As if they’ve traveled all over the world and met everybody, I remember a long time ago, the parents printed the cards and everything and has given the cards wedding invitation, then four or five days before marriage, the girl said, I don’t want marriage, I’m afraid of marriage, because she’s been going to the coffee shop after work and talking to some of the girls that work with her, seven, eight of them gather together, and they talk and talk till late in the evening. Because they don’t want to go home. And she said that everybody that I know that is married is not happy. Why should I get married? That’s the reason she said, every single one is unhappy. Why should I get married? I said, how many people come with you to the coffee shop, said seven or eight people, we go on hang out. I said, how many people work with you? About 2000s of people. I said what happened to the rest of the 1990 something. They all have good husbands. They have good families, they have homes. So as soon as the work was over, they rush home, to be with their husband, children and all of that. These ladies that are talking to you is a small group from a big multitude of people that work with you, don’t talk as if this is the whole world. In Tamil, we used to say [inaudible 01:06:41] is just a very narrow understanding of life, you’re met only seven or eight people over a few days. And you’ve decided the whole world is a failure. It’s a story of marriage failure. That’s what the world is all about. That’s why you need to understand what this community is all about. This community will make you understand that life is not to be lived in failure. Life is full of challenges. Life may be full of various hardships, challenges, struggles, and so on. But life in Jesus Christ is lived by the power of God, where you can have victory over these things. 

And when you join with this community and hang around the community of God’s people, you will hear one story after another of struggles and hardships, and so on, and how people came out of it by the grace of God and by the power of God. That is the story. That’s the true picture. It’s because you don’t hang out with them. It’s because you have nothing to do with them. You think you have arrived? And sometimes you find yourself alone you think nobody has the problems that you have. You’re all alone. You’re one in a billion. You’re not because Bible says, no temptation has overtaken you except as is common to man. There is nothing that you have suffered, that others have not suffered. That’s the true story. True picture. Anything that you think you alone are suffering, you’re wrong. Whatever is common to man, that’s what we’re all suffering from. Our suffering is not unique. And the story through Jesus Christ is that victory in the midst of that suffering. 

And finally, he says God is faithful. Why? Because he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. Everybody say amen. Beyond what? He will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you’re able. But with the temptation will also make a way of escape? That you may be able to bear it? Oh, here is endurance. Are you going to go through some problems, difficulties and challenges and so on? Yeah, well, life is like that. But God is faithful. Everybody say God is faithful. God is faithful. He will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you can take. And he will always make a way of escape. He’s in the business of making a way where there is no way when you think there is no way out of your problem, God has got 1000 ways to get you out of the problem that you are facing. God is faithful. Everybody say God is faithful. God is faithful. God is faithful. Well, when the meeting is over today, let’s meet at least two three people and say God is faithful. He has been faithful to me, God is faithful. He will never, never, ever forsake us. Never leave us. Shall we all stand together. This is how you endure. The heart that endures, endures in this way. Let’s lift up our hands and praise God.

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