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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Title:Everything I need is in Christ Jesus
Text:LD 44 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:10th Commandment (Jealousy)
 
Preached:2013-02-10
Added:2013-02-22
Updated:2013-02-22
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Songs from 1984 Book of Praise.  Bible translation used NKJV

 

Psalm 92:1,2

Psalm 65:1,3

Psalm 19:3,4

Psalm 23:1,2,3

Psalm 19:6

 

Read:  1 Timothy 6:3-21

Text:  Lord’s Day 44

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a relatively new word in the English language that goes a long way to define the world in which we live.  It is the word “upgrade.”  First used in 1873 to describe the upward grade or slope of a hill, it now refers to exchanging a thing for something better.  You can upgrade your mobile phone.  You can upgrade your iPad.  You can upgrade your play-station, your TV, your car, your boat, your house, your caravan, your airflight, your holiday accommodation, and your coffee machine.  And you can even upgrade your MacDonald’s meal from regular to large. 

It seems that whatever you have, whatever you want, there is always something else that is bigger and better and faster.  And whatever it is that you are interested in, there is always something new on the horizon.  And from television commercials to billboards to internet and glossy magazine advertisements, your eyes are being opened to the ultimate thing that will fill your heart with happiness, that will make you fulfilled, that will leave you feeling content.  Until, that is, the next good thing comes along.

Advertisers call this the result of “clever marketing strategies.”

The Bible calls it covetousness.

The Tenth Commandment says,

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.”

 

In other words, be content with the things that God has given you, and do not lust after that which belongs to another. 

The Tenth Commandment, “Do Not Covet” directly prohibits us from lusting after the wife of the possessions of our neighbour.  But the rest of Scripture teaches us that covetousness is not simply wanting to take that which belongs to someone else:  to covet is to want something so badly that it becomes the thing to die for, the thing that will ultimately make you happy, that will leave you content.

But there is only one way to be content, and that is not through lusting after the things of this world, but through the One who delivered us from the vanity of this world, our Lord Jesus Christ.

And so I preach to you God’s Word as He has given it to us in the 10th commandment, “You shall not covet” under the following theme:

Everything I need is in Christ Jesus.

1.    He is the key to the contentment.

2.    He is the means to godliness.

1. He is the key to contentment.

Everyone agrees that to be content is a good thing.  When you are “filled to your heart’s content” then you are satisfied, then you are happy.  All is good with the world, and you are at peace. 

But while everyone agrees that it is good to be content, what we do not agree on is how to be content.  We may be told repeatedly that “Money does not buy you happiness”, but many people still seem to act and think as though money and possessions are the key to happiness and contentment.  And in addition to the love of money is the desire for popularity, to be recognized as being the best at your game – whether as a football player or film star, a politician or a businessman.  The world’s approach to find contentment is to strive and to add.  The world teaches you to set a goal and then to keep striving until you get there – and then you will be content.  The world encourages you to get rich, multiplying your wealth, being set up for life, and then having the ability to get the latest and the greatest of anything that appeals to you.  For if you do this, the world promises us, then your desires will be satisfied and so then you will be content. 

But the Bible teaches us something different.  The Bible teaches us that contentment lies not in the abundance of a man’s possessions nor in his achievements, but in the state of his heart.  In Philippians 4:11,12 the apostle Paul wrote,

“. . . I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

But while the apostle Paul could, at the end of his life, say that he had learned in whatever state he was in to be content, for many of us, contentment is a work in progress.  We want to say that we are content in every circumstance, but we often struggle with the question whether or not we really are. 

So what is the answer?  How then should we view the things of this world?

Throughout history there have been some who take a very negative view of wealth and possessions.  “Sell all that you have, give it to the poor and come, follow Jesus” they would say.  But while some may be called to give up all their possessions for the Lord and His service, the Bible does not mean to say that wealth and possessions are, in themselves, evil, nor that a real Christian is a poor one.  Bible verses such as 1 Timothy 6:17 teaches us that we may enjoy the good gifts that God gives us:

 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”

It is God who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  And so to like nice things is not wrong in itself.  To want a nice house, nice clothes, a new phone or even a new play-station does not necessarily mean that you have sinned.  But the question is, is this what you think you need to be content?  And are you able to be content whatever your external circumstances might be?  Should your life’s situation change in an instant – and it is especially those of you who are in business know how “uncertain” riches are and how quickly they can disappear in front of your eyes - are you able to echo the words of Job, in chapter 1:21,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.  The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”?

On the one hand I would like to say, “Yes, I have learned to be content.  I am not straining for that which I do not have, and if I lose the things that I do have, that would not matter too much to me.”  But on the other hand, I struggle.  For our identity is so quickly and so firmly bound up in our possessions.

And the world encourages us in this.  A house is not just four walls and a roof:  it is your castle and the better the house, the more you have “made it”.  And doesn’t it sound so much better to say “I own a home in (. . . .)” than “I’m renting a house in (. . . .)”?  A ten dollar time-piece might serve as a watch, but if you wear one that costs thousands it somehow makes you a different person – or so the advertisements in the in-flight magazine would like to convince you.  As would the right shoe, the right brand of clothing, the right perfume.  These things are promised to change us, make us better, more attractive, more important.  And one other thing that wealth does is it tempts us to be haughty, to be proud.  Wealth means that other people will serve us, rather than we serve them.  They will be there to massage your back, to paint your fingernails, to shampoo your pets, to wash your feet.  Wealth encourages you to find your sense of importance and your feeling of contentment in the things it provides.

And that is how the world grabs us.  Just as Jesus was brought up a high mountain, was shown all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and tempted by Satan who said to him,

“All these things I will give you if you fall down and worship me”

so you are being shown “the kingdoms of the world and all their glory” through the television, the internet and your own big wide eyes.  And through it all the devil, the world and your own flesh is whispering to you,  “All these things can be yours if you desire them enough, if they become your object of worship – and just imagine what they can make you!”

And so we feel the seductive pull of ungodly desire, of what the Bible calls “covetousness”.  The word “to covet” has the meaning of “to desire greatly”.  It is to crave for something that you don’t have or that you want more of.  Now the 10th commandment does not say that all coveting is wrong.  To the contrary, there are many good desires.  To desire food and drink, a house and clothing, love and respect is in itself good.  To desire to be in God’s house, to desire righteousness, and to desire God’s law is very good – and God wants this from us.  We may covet a closer relationship with God; we may covet someone’s prayers; we may covet our husband’s our wife’s love and attention.

But desires become evil when we lust after the things that God does not give to us and when we hanker for something that would not help us in our love for God and our neighbour but turn us away from them.  And that can be a neighbour’s wife, his ox or his donkey, but it can also be all sorts of other worldly things:  an athletic body, health, being the top salesman in the office or even a boyfriend or a girlfriend.  When we covet something in a sinful way, we begin to long for that thing to the point that we think we are missing out on life if we don’t have it.  When we covet something we will want it even though it could poison our relationship with God or with our neighbour.  To covet is to want something so badly that it becomes “the thing to die for”, it becomes a or even the driving force in our lives.

And when that happens, what we effectively do is we exchange our love for God for our desire for the thing or the person or the position that we so desperately want.  Yes, you may still confess your love for God and you may still be coming to Church, but what you have effectively done is to remove God from His throne and make the object of your desires, the thing you so badly want the thing around which your life revolves.

And that is why the Bible calls covetousness idolatry, worshipping another God.  Paul calls it this in Colossians 3:5,

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

You see, that’s why God commands us not to covet.  The sin of covetousness might not register as being very evil in the world or even by our standards, by in God’s eyes the sin of covetousness is the same as the sin of idolatry, of having another god before Him.

Now I want you to be clear about what I am saying here.  There is nothing inherently wrong with wealth and there is nothing inherently wrong with getting your back rubbed or your toenails painted.  God has given the things of this world to enjoy and so material things in and of themselves are good.  To excel in your work, to work hard and see your business grow, to prudently save and then build or buy a beautiful house is good.  To be poor is not in and of itself a more godly state to be in than being rich and money is not the root of all evil.

But what is the root of all kinds of evil is the love of money.  1 Timothy 6:9,10,

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

It has to do with your life’s direction.  The career path you choose, the job you have, the place you live in, the friends you are attracted to, your life’s dreams and goals, the way you currently spend your time and money, what do these things say about you and your heart?

You can not serve God and Mammon, money – but how easy it is to fall into the trap of trying to serve both!

So where are things at with you?  Does your heart’s desire, your yearning for contentment, tempt you to sin?  Does your heart’s desire, whether that be riches or prestige or success or a relationship or anything else, does it pull you away from Christ Jesus?  Does it lead you to trust Him less?  And when you do not get what your heart is craving for, does it cause you to despair, does the bottom completely fall out of your world?  What is it – or should we say who is it that is the key for your contentment?

The Catechism already told us the answer to that question in Lord’s Day 1.

“What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ is the key to your contentment!  It is when you belong to Him, living in Him and through Him and for Him that your life will be full and you will be content.  Hunger and thirst for Him, live for Him alone, set Him as your highest joy, and you will rest content in Him. 

And so, as answer 115 of Lord’s Day 44 teaches us, turn to God, to His Word and to His law.  Get a right view of yourself, be humble and ask God to forgive your sins and grant you the righteousness that is yours in Jesus Christ.  Pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, and strive not for the things of this world but to be renewed more and more after God’s image, to live for Him and for His glory, taking delight in His presence.  For that is what you were created to do and what you have been redeemed to do.  And then you too will see that everything you need is in Christ Jesus.  In Him you will find rest for your souls, and in Him you will be content.

2. He is the means to godliness.

When Jesus Christ is the key to your contentment, when you find your peace and your life in Him, that will change the way you live!  You will no longer be living for yourself nor will you be living for and chasing after the vain things of this world, but you will be living for Christ, desiring to love the LORD with all your heart, all your soul, all you mind and with all your strength. 

That’s what Lord’s Day 44 teaches us when it says in answer 113 of the Catechism

“That not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any of God’s commandments should ever arise in our heart.  Rather, with all our heart we should always hate all sin and delight in all righteousness.”

But how can you live this new life?  How can you be focused on Christ when the devil, the world and your own flesh are trying to pull you away from Him?    The fact of the matter is that in and of yourself you can’t!  Answer 114,

“In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience”!

In other words, the godliness that the LORD requires of us just isn’t there!  We already confessed this in Lord’s Day 24 –

“. . . the righteousness which can stand before God’s judgement must be absolutely perfect and in complete agreement with the law of God, whereas even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.”

We continue to be tripped up and trapped by the things of this world.  Even though we know for a fact that everything we need is in Christ Jesus and that He is our highest joy, we still find ourselves casting wistful glances at the things of this world, we do not always hate sin in the manner that we should and we do not always delight to do that what is good.

But that is not all there is say!  Because  what we could not do, Jesus Christ has done for us.  And therefore there is still a pathway to perfection, not through the law, the 10 commandments, but through Jesus Christ!  Jesus Christ is the means to godliness.  It is through Him that we His children are declared righteous before God and it is through His Holy Spirit that you will grow in Him in all godliness and righteousness. And it is in Him and through Him that your covetous desires for things of this world will fade away and you will want to live a life of “godliness with contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6).  As answer 115 of the Catechism points out, it is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us, makes us holy, and who fills us with the ability to love God with all our heart, finding our delight in Him alone.  It is Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit whom He sends me that my heart is changed and my mind is conformed more and more according to the image of God. 

It is not an upgrade that He is offering you, but a new life in Christ, and a new way of life.  A life that starts with a changed heart and a new direction.  A life that gives freedom, true freedom from the shackles the discontent and covetousness of this present life, and in its place the promise of true contentment as you find rest for your souls in Him.  And so turn to Jesus Christ.  Obey His commands and take delight in Him – not as a way to godliness but as the way to live in the godliness that is ours in Christ Jesus.  Live in Him and live for Him.  And you will find that everything you need truly is in your Lord and your Saviour, Christ Jesus.  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2013, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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