Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition part 2:
Transformation
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 5, 2006

 

Main Passage: 1 Peter 1:13-23 (NLT)

 

Last week, we began a brand new series of messages called Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition. And we talked primarily about how God wants to work a makeover in our lives to the point that we become like His Son. The Bible says…

Romans 8:29 (NLT)
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son…

And so last week we talked about how God wants to work this Makeover… primarily by bringing us into a relationship with Jesus. And we saw that the closer we get to Him and the more we learn about Him, the more we become like Him. We begin to take on His character, His values, His desires, His priorities. Little by little, through a life-long process, we become like His Son.

So that was all last week. This week, we’re going to look at some of the signs that this is actually happening… some of the indicators that we are in fact becoming more like Jesus.

And I think the greatest indicator is our motivation. Who are we living for? Are we living for ourselves, or are we living for God? Because it’s not the external things which we struggle with. It’s ourselves and our own desires. Our happiness, our comfort, our popularity. Now, it’s not bad to be happy, it’s not wrong to be comfortable, and it’s not evil to be popular. But when all we seek are those things and they become more important than God, they become a problem. And they can greatly interfere or even destroy our relationship with Him and prevent the Makeover that He’s performing in us.

So the big question is, who has the place of priority in your life? You or God? Because God alone deserves that place of priority. He made us, He calls us, He saves us, He provides for us, He loves us, He forgives and restores us… in Christ He paid the penalty that we deserve because of our rebellion against God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.

That means we can’t even put ourselves before Him. He has the place of priority. He comes first. He paid the price for us, and we accept what He did for us on the Cross, we become His. We begin to live for Him. And when that happens, you know that you’re growing. You know you’re becoming like Jesus.

And so this morning, what I want to do is break that down into five signs. Five signs that you’re becoming more like Jesus. And in your Sunrise Update, you’ll find some notes you can use to follow along and fill in the blanks…

 

Signs I’m becoming more like Jesus:

1. I seek God’s approval, not man’s applause.

Now, we normally think of this as a teenage problem. Teens want the approval of others. Teens want to be liked. Teens do things because everyone else is doing them. Teens give in to peer pressure. But it’s not just a teenage problem. Of course, we adults don’t call it peer pressure. We call it going with the flow, compromising, finding the middle ground, not causing waves… we don’t want to do anything and we don’t want to say anything that’s going to upset anyone or make them distance themselves from us, because we want their approval.

In the New Testament, shortly after Jesus was arrested, the religious leaders who were also influential politically presented their case before Pontius Pilate. Pilate was a Roman official who had the authority to either release Jesus or have Him executed. And all kinds of accusations were being made against Jesus. The religious leaders arranged for people to tell lies and make false accusations, and they really incited a mob mentality. Maybe you’ve seen that new game show, 1 vs. 100? Well, on that day, it was really one against thousands. It was Jesus against the mob. And Pilate felt the pressure of that.

In fact, we’re told in the Bible that Pilate found Jesus innocent and he wanted to release Him. He even offered to have Jesus flogged (or whipped) before he released Him, but the crowd rose up with a mighty roar demanding that Jesus be given the death penalty. Again Pilate declared that Jesus was innocent, but the people continued to shout for His death. So finally Pilate gave in and handed Jesus over to be crucified. And that was the first case of “Pilate Error.”

But Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. He knew Jesus didn’t deserve to die. He knew that he should release Jesus. But he didn’t. Why? He didn’t release Jesus because of the pressure that was placed on him to do what everyone else wanted him to do and gain the approval of the crowd.

Pop Quiz: Who’s the richest man in the world?
 

The World's Richest People

Rank Name Citizenship Age Net Worth ($bil) Residence
1 William Gates III United States 50 50.0 United States
2 Warren Buffett United States 75 42.0 United States
3 Carlos Slim Helu Mexico 66 30.0 Mexico
4 Ingvar Kamprad Sweden 79 28.0 Switzerland
5 Lakshmi Mittal India 55 23.5 United Kingdom
6 Paul Allen United States 53 22.0 United States
7 Bernard Arnault France 57 21.5 France
8 Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud Saudi Arabia 49 20.0 Saudi Arabia
9 Kenneth Thomson & family Canada 82 19.6 Canada
10 Li Ka-shing Hong Kong 77 18.8 Hong Kong
~ From Forbes.com for 2006
 

Bill Gates. Bill Gates has a net worth of 50 Billion dollars. That’s an increase of almost 10 billion in just the past three years. According to Forbes magazine, Warren Buffett comes in second at 42 billion dollars. So Bill Gates is worth about 20 percent more than the next richest man.

But let me tell you about another man who would put them all to shame. King Solomon in the Old Testament was the third king of Israel. And at that point of history, Solomon was the richest king in the world. Comparatively, he would have put Bill Gates to shame. He was also the wisest man in the world. But catch this… the guy had 700 wives!

Now, I love my wife. I enjoy being married. But 700?!? I’ve heard of the 700 Club, but I had no idea. Maybe Solomon wasn’t so wise, after all.

Actually, it was common at the time for people in general and royalty in particular to have several wives. It was often more of a political union than one of the heart. Treaties could be sealed with a wedding. But God has warned Solomon not to intermarry with the surrounding nations because those wives would lead him to worship false gods. But Solomon didn’t listen, and sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

We’re told in 1 Kings 11 that Solomon gave in to the pressure his wives were placing on him, he built shrines for all of his foreign wives to worship their own gods, and he even began to worship them himself. Why? Because he wanted their applause. He wanted to make them happy because it would make him look good in their eyes. And so he gave in to the pressure.

You go to school, people put pressure on you. You go to work, people put pressure on you. You go to a club, people put pressure on you. You come to church, people put pressure on you even here. We all face the pressure to fit in. Nobody likes to be singled out. We’re all jealous of the people who seem to be the “in” crowd… the ones who get all the attention and get all the breaks and have all the friends. And it feels good when people accept us and make us feel important. But when that pressure tells you to do something that you know is wrong, don’t give in to it. Read this verse from Galatians with me…

Galatians 1:10 (NLT)
Obviously, I'm not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ's servant.

Instead of seeking the applause of men, seek the approval of God. Make it your goal to someday hear him say to you… what Jesus talked about in Matthew 25…

Matthew 25:21 (NLT)
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!”

Putting God first means you seek God’s approval over man’s applause. It also means…

 

2. I seek God’s way over my way.

Wasn’t that Frank Sinatra’s signature song? “I did it my way”? And when you hear him sing it, wow! It sounds so victorious, so triumphant… so… so… so lonely, so meaningless, so self-absorbed.

Now, I’m not here to bash Frank. In fact, I kind of like that song. But I think that “I did it my way” attitude can be dangerous, because my way is not necessarily the right way. In fact, this is what the Bible says…

Proverbs 14:12 (NLT)
There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

And God says…

Isaiah 55:9 (NLT)
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

You see, this is what I’ve come to realize. God made me, and He made me for a purpose. He made me special, just like He made you special. And the only way that I’m going to achieve my full potential and the only way I’m going to succeed in what I’m here for is for me to learn His plans for me… to learn His ways and follow His ways.

For those of you who are parents… do you remember when your kids started to express their independence? Maybe you’re in the middle of it right now. You know, one day they’re kind of cuddly and are content to be held. And the next day, they’re pushing you away and want to do everything on their own and their own way.

That’s a pretty common thing with kids. My sister-in-law’s first words were “Do it self”. And some people make that their life motto. They want to do everything in their own way in their own time. But when God makes you over, that begins you change. Putting God first means that you seek His way over your way. It means your plans change to reflect His plans.

Let me show you a couple more verses:

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.

Psalm 119:105 (NLT)
Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

Third, putting God first means…

 

3. I seek obedience over convenience.

Choosing to live as a Christian and devote your life to God does not mean that everything will be hunky-dory for you. Actually, it can mean the exact opposite… that you will encounter difficulties and challenges in life that without God’s help you wouldn’t survive. Because we’re not called to a life of comfort or convenience… we’re called to a life of obedience.

It’s not like going to a buffet where you choose what looks good to you and ignore the rest. The call on your life and mine is to be fully devoted, radical followers of Jesus Christ, regardless of the cost.

I once heard a story about Thomas Jefferson. I can’t confirm whether the story is true or if it’s just something that someone made up, but this is what I heard. Thomas Jefferson wanted to be a Christian and he wanted to take God seriously, but there were parts of the Bible that troubled him. Perhaps there were passages that demanded more of him than he was willing to give. So he took a pair of scissors and began to cut out the parts that he didn’t like.

But really, that’s not an option. We don’t get to pick and choose what we think is important, because everything God says in His Word is important. And sometimes it’s not convenient to be obedient. Sometimes it’s not comfortable. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we are called to a life of obedience.

Luke 9:57-62 (NLT)
As they were walking along someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you no matter where you go."
But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head."
He said to another person, "Come, be my disciple."
The man agreed, but he said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."
Jesus replied, "Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead. Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God."
Another said, "Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family."
But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."

Is Jesus anti-family? No, Jesus is all for families. But He also wants us to understand that it’s not about what we want, it’s about what God wants. It’s not about convenience, it’s about obedience.

 

4. I seek holiness over happiness.

There’s a quote I heard years ago, and I believe it was from Chuck Colson, so that’s who I’m giving credit to. But the quote was:

“Contrary to popular opinion, the call of the church is not to make people happy but to make them holy.”
~ Charles Colson

Michael W. Smith is a name you may recognize as a top-selling recording artist with success on both the secular and Christian charts. Listen to what he said…

“Everybody plays it safe. Here's where I'm at: I've got a franchise. I can sit here and play it safe, protect the franchise, do well the rest of my life, retire and be happy. That's the last thing I need to do, even if it costs me my career. I've got to be God's man. I've got to impact culture.”
~ Christian Recording Artist Michael W. Smith

So what’s the difference between happiness and holiness? Happiness is a result of our circumstances and changes from day to day. What are some things that influence our level of happiness? Just take a few seconds, turn to the person next to you, and tell them what some of the things are that affect your happiness in life.

PARTICIPATION

Our happiness can be based on so many things. The weather, our work, our families, and the random events of life. Holiness, on the other hand is an internal condition that is the result of daily surrendering ourselves to the work of God.

Last week, we talked about how being holy does not mean you are completely without fault. It does not mean that you become someone really weird who’s completely out of touch with reality. It does not mean it is impossible for you to sin. But we discovered it does mean that it is possible for you not to sin. It means that you aim to glorify God in thought, word and deed. It means you love God with everything you’ve got and love your neighbour as yourself. That’s what it means to be holy.

And if you’re becoming more like Jesus, then you’re going to seek holiness. Check out these verses:

1 Peter 1:15 (NLT)
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.

 

5. I seek transformation over validation.

“God's ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so he certainly doesn't want to destroy it. Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.”
~ Rick Warren

If you seek validation, you want people to tell you that you’re okay just the way you are. You want to be told that your priorities, your standards, your lifestyle, your actions are all fine. There’s no room for improvement, you’ve already attained all there is to attain.

But here’s what I believe. I believe the Bible teaches that God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. It’s not validation we need; it’s transformation.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

You know, one of the stereotypes of Christians today is that they’re judgemental. Sometimes that earned, sometimes it’s not. But sometimes we do tend to get judgmental of who live in ways that we don’t condone and that we know the Bible speaks against. We look at passages like this…

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NLT)
Don't you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers--none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God.

We look at verses like that and we begin to look down on people who are involved in those kinds of things. We become self-righteous and judgmental. And the problem is, we forget the reality of the very next verse…

1 Corinthians 6:11 (NLT)
There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.


“There was a time when some of you were just like that…” And the truth is, all of us have done things that are listed here or other places in the Bible which we know God detests and we have hurt Him greatly. And it’s only through the forgiveness offered to us through the sacrifice of Jesus when He died for you and died for me that any of us have any hope of having a relationship with God and spending eternity with Him.

We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. You… me… everyone in this room… everyone in this world… we’re all sinners in desperate need of God’s grace. All of us need the transforming work of God in our lives. We don’t need to be validated and told that we’re okay the way we are. God loves us the way we are, but He doesn’t want us to stay that way. He doesn’t validate us that way. He transforms us.

We all need to allow ourselves to be transformed by the power of God into the people He wants us to be… people who become like His Son.
 

So where are you at this morning? Do you see evidence that this transformation is talking place? Have you chosen to allow God to work in your life, making you like His Son? And I’ve got to tell you, it’s not a one time decision. It’s a daily commitment. It’s getting up every morning and giving God permission to do anything He wants to do with you, anything He wants to do in you, and anything He wants to do through you. But little by little, as you do this and as you trust God’s hand in your life, you will see the signs of change.

Would you close your eyes for a minute? Here’s your chance to respond to the message. If you feel in your heart that God’s been speaking to you this morning and you know that you need to stop living for yourself and start living for God, then just slip up your hand so I can see it. I’m not going to mention you by name, but I want to be able to pray for the life-changing power of God and the presence of His Spirit to infiltrate your life.

Let’s pray.

Father, thank you for the work that you do in our lives. Thank you for not leaving us lost to our sinfulness. Thank you for calling us and transforming us and making us like your Son. Help us to seek Your ways with all our hearts, and continue the work you’ve begun in our lives we pray.


Now you pray… just silently, you can pray something like this…

Jesus, I want to be more like you. I know that’s your design for my life. Help me to take my eyes off of other people and seeking their applause, and instead to seek after You. I don’t want to live my way anymore, I want to live Your way. I trust Your transforming work in my life. Thank you for what you’re doing in me. In Your name I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2006 SunriseOnline.ca