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Following The Rules

  • What's your favourite sport? Why that sport?
  • What does it take to succeed, to win in that sport? (Skill, practice, experience, a good coach, knowing the rules, etc.)
  • How important is it to know the rules really well?
  • How do you get to know the rules really well?
  • Who makes the rules? How easy is it to get them changed?
  • What happens when you ignore the rules? When you fail to follow the rules to the letter?
  • Now, let's look at what Jesus says about religious people who fail to follow God's rules… who make compromises in the way they live their lives.

1. Revelation 3:14-18
14 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
16 So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Q: What is Jesus saying here?
A: Worldly success is valueless, spiritual wealth is all that counts.

Q: Being lukewarm about looking for the truth is worse than openly turning away, being cold toward God. Why?

2. Revelation 3:19-22
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Q: And here . What's Jesus' message?
A: Jesus loves those who accept God's rules… those who accept the discipline of a righteous life. Only those who overcome the pressures of the world will end up in Heaven. No religious hypocrites allowed !

Q: What holds us back from being hot for the truth … from living the life set out for us?

Let's look at a familiar example.

3. Mark 6:17-28
17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married.
18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to,
20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled ; yet he liked to listen to him.
21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.
22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you."
23 And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."
24 She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" "The head of John the Baptist," she answered.
25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.
27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison,
28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.

Q: What sins did Herod commit?
A: Sexual immorality, marrying two wives, imprisoning an innocent man, drunkenness, lust, murder, etc.

Q: What held him back from leading a righteous life?

Q: Why did he imprison John,whom he knew was a righteous and holy man?
A: His selfish ambition, malice, to stop John's public criticism of his lifestyle, also to pacify his malicious wife.

Q: Why did he make his wild promise to Salome?
A: His impurity, lewdness, to gain favours with his wife and her daughter, to impress his guests.

Q: Why did Herod, despite his great distress, go through with his promise to Salome?
A: His pride, arrogance would not allow him to admit his mistake, his foolish talk, his folly.

4. Acts 12:21-25
21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people.
22 They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man."
23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
24 But the word of God continued to increase and spread.
25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

Herod ignored God's rules all his life and, because of this, was eventually struck down by an angel, eaten by worms and died.

But we need to remember that Herod's sins … selfish ambition, malice, impurity, pride, arrogance, foolish talk, folly are all common worldly sins which can take us to Hell.

Q: How well do you know God's rules for living a righteous life?

Q: How sure are you about your standing with God?

Q: How Hot a prospect are you for Life after Death?

Q: What's holding you back from improving your chances? Is it Selfishness?

Q: Are you putting your worldly priorities and worldly wealth first?

Q: Is it Pride? Is it difficult to admit that you need to work further on you spiritual wealth?

Optional Scriptures

a. Galatians 5:19-21
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

b. Ephesians 5:3-7
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

c. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people--
10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.
11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
13 God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."

d. Mark 7:20-23
20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.'
21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
23 All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"

e. Matthew 5:27-30
27 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'
28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

f. Revelation 21:8
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."