Chris Hodges - I Am Not My Own
All right, welcome today to week number three in the series that we have called, unfortunately, the new normal. In other words, everything following this is gonna give you great peace. "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you", that means set you apart from what everybody else is doing, "sanctify you through and through", and then he mentions three areas, "May your whole spirit, soul and body..." And that's, we've done this series. We're talking about our spirit. How do we live spiritually in the new norm? How do we take care of our emotions in the new norm? And today our body may "be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ".
In other words, we don't want to let the situation that we're currently in pollute us in a way. We're really not even ready for the return of Christ. And today, I have the opportunity to bring you a message on how do we take care of our bodies? And right when I thought about this, I thought, "Chris, you really have no moral authority". You know, about taking care of your body, I had to go ahead and confess to you that I'm keeping my body in check, but I am eating more. I'm exercising less. I've never worked harder in my life right now through this. I'm on these Zoom calls every day, and meeting with leaders, and trying to promote this prayer movement around the world, and helping a lot of other pastors in churches, and I'll even confess to you right here on this Sunday morning service that last night at 9 o'clock, I asked Tammy to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
You know, they say, they say you're supposed to eat, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. The only problem is every night about 9 o'clock, I hear this voice in my head that says, "Long live the king". And so anyway, I'll be honest with you. We're all in a new normal right now and trying to figure out how to exist with this pandemic going on. I really have a message on my heart today that I really can't wait to share with you, but I always like to begin I'm kind of struggling with that right now, and I've made a promise to Tammy and myself and my God that in May it's gonna be different. I'm not gonna be... it's not gonna look like April, you know?
And so anyway, I'm working toward that right now. In fact, you know, they say that your weight is... you find out what your ideal weight is by your height, which is a real problem, because I'm not very tall. And so I went to the doctor, and he actually said, he says, "Actually, you know, your weight's perfect; you're just 11 feet too short". Anyway, I know you're laughing right now. That's just funny to me. I don't know why it's so funny to me. But anyway, I'm working on it, okay? In fact, one more funny thing 'cause I saw this, this week. This is hilarious to me. I saw this. I think I saw this on Instagram. It says, "How's y'all summer body lookin'? Mine look like I have a great personality".
I don't know why I think that's so funny. It's hard to do these jokes without people in the room, but I know you're laughing right now. But let's get serious. You know, because I do have a few areas that I do feel like I have some moral authority to teach you in, and that is our bodies, any time any thing changes like what we've experienced, the change we've experienced. Our bodies can easily get out of control. Isn't that right? And some of you are actually really struggling, and I would want to start off this message by telling you that if you are struggling with the control of your body during this new normal, that some of the greats struggled, as well.
The Apostle Paul, who would write, end up writing nearly two-thirds of the New Testament, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, struggled. And he said it this way in Romans chapter 7. Now I'm so glad that this chapter is in our Bibles. by just greeting you. And normally I would look into this camera with this room filled with people here at Grants Mill, but they're not even here, as well. So, really, everybody's on the other side of the camera today, 'Cause Paul gets very vulnerable here and very honest, and he says, "Look, I love God. In my inner being, I love God. I love God's law. There's nothing, when I do something I don't want to do, it's not because I'm a rebel, and it's not because I'm a God hater. I love God, but I have another law at work within the members of my body. In other words, while I have this inside, I can worship, I can pray, I mean I love God as much as I ever have. I'm struggling. My body is doing something else, and it feels like a war".
And I want to just pause there for those of you who feel like what you're going through feels like a war, like you're in a war for your body right now. Some of the decisions that, perhaps, that you're making, I have this war going on "against my mind and it's making me a prisoner of the law of sin". I'm sinning, and I know I'm sinning, and I wish I wasn't sinning. And it goes on to say, "What a wretched man I am"! And that's what happens every time whenever our bodies get out of control. There is shame involved. If I'm honest with you, I have a measure of shame like I shouldn't be eating a peanut butter, jelly sandwich at 9 o'clock at night, all right? And I think, "Chris, that's not how you live. That's not how you lead. This is not what's good for us".
And I just say that to you to identify with you. I understand. And Paul understands. And you ready for this? Look at me. God understands. God knows. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus, that one of the reasons why he lives 33 years on earth was to experience all the testing and temptation you would ever experience, not so that he could judge you, but so that he could understand you. and I want you to know that I think about you every day, all throughout the day. In fact, I miss you so badly, you really have no idea. And just would love to be around some people again, And I want you to know I understand. God understands. Paul understands. And while I may not have moral authority to talk to you about your exercising or your eating habits, there are three areas that the Bible really emphasizes when it comes to our bodies that I do want to talk to us about today.
The first one is this word. If you're taking notes, just jot this down. And you're not gonna like the word. It's simply the word addiction. People always say, "Well, I'm not an addict," because we think in our minds an addict is someone who's strung out on drugs, someone who's, you know, in a hospital or in a rehab center somewhere. But the word addiction just means any time you continually do something you don't want to do, and you haven't been able to stop doing it. And for some of us, there's a little bit of an addict in all of us, and I think part of finding freedom in our life is just, you know what? This has got some control over my life right now.
Romans says it this way in chapter 6. It says, "Therefore do not let sin reign in your body so that you obey its evil desires. Don't offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God...For sin shall not be my master". Kurios in the Greek. It means to rule, to have dominion over, to be Lord of. All of us have some area (myself included) where we've gotten a new master. Mine's my appetite right now. Mine is the fact that I'd rather work than exercise. That's not good. And I love my work. I'm glad I'm doing it. and especially the amazing people of Church of the Highlands. To the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections, we love you. We miss you. And it's, honestly, what I'm doing right now, I feel like it's some of the most effective work I've ever done. But I've gotta be careful that I don't even excuse away my new habits, my new addictions, that things are... I'm not gonna, you know, I'm gonna have this situation where now it's in control over my life.
I think we have to get to the place where, for those that say, "Well, you know, I don't have anything that masters me. There's nothing that masters me". Well, can I give you some questions I'm asking myself, that perhaps you should ask yourself? I'm gonna give you four questions that will define whether, really, we have this issue of addiction or not, and that is can you go one week without it? Like can you... if you have something where there's alcohol, or drugs, or internet, or Netflix, or spending, or gambling, or I don't know. Whatever it is, the question is could you put it down for a week? Could you? Could you not be on social media for a week? Could you do it? If you can't, then guess what? You're addicted to it. Can you lay it down?
That's what I love so much about how we start our year in these seasons of fasting. We fast just to declare to ourselves and our God, "This does not have control. I'm not gonna let this have control over me". Here's another great question to determine whether we have an addiction or not, and that is, is it leading us to even greater levels of isolation? 'Cause what happens every time is if when you do something you don't want to do, you'll do it alone, and you'll isolate. We're already isolated enough. Wouldn't you agree with that? Here's the third question, and that is, "Do you arrange your schedule around it"?
So, are you thinking of when you're gonna do this thing? And here's the biggest one, and this is the one that should really convict all of us is that is are we trying to keep it We can't wait until all of the restrictions are eased, and we're able to be together again. And if you're watching for the first time, perhaps, or someone told you about our service, we hope it's not your last time to join us. a secret? If no one else knows, you'll always stay as... you'll always stay as sick as your secrets. And I don't say that to condemn you. I just say, look, let's wake up to the reality that perhaps this new normal's got us in a place where there's something mastering us. Here's a second area that the Bible just addresses with regard to our bodies, and it's kind of a Bible name, and I'll define it for you.
The Bible calls it debauchery, debauchery. Kind of sounds bad, doesn't it? Debauchery. And debauchery, the definition of debauchery is simply, it's whenever you indulge in your senses in an extreme way. So, it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. You're just doing way too much of it. I don't think there is anything really inherently wrong with peanut butter and jelly. What's wrong with it is that I let my body make a decision that I knew it wasn't good for me late at night, right? And there's probably nothing wrong with watching some TV, but nine hours of it, right? So, inherently there's nothing wrong with it, but it's extreme. It's just too much. And when it is too much, you're now allowing your body to call the shots, and that's never good.
And that's why Ephesians 5:18 says it this way: "Don't get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit". In other words, don't get to the place where you just throw caution to the wind, and I'll just do whatever I want to do. You're gonna find yourself in a bad place, in a place where your body's calling the shots. Here's the third one. We always have these services that are streamed online, even when we are able to meet. And as so, we say a big hello to you guys, as well, today. Before I get into the message, I also want to tell you that And I'll just warn you. This one's the most difficult, and I'm only sharing it with you, because this is the one that all studies over the last six or seven weeks of this coronavirus pandemic show that this is on the rise, and that is sexual immorality.
Fornication, some translations of the Bible say. And the definition of this word is just any sexual encounter, any at all that's outside of marriage, the relationship, the covenant relationship between a man and a woman. And anything outside of that is what the Bible calls sexual immorality. Now, you guys know that the New Testament, the original manuscripts of the Bible, from 2,000 years ago, are written in the Greek language. And in the Greek language... this is shocking to me, I think, in the original Greek language, the two words in the English, "sexual immorality," but it's one word in the Greek. You ready for it? I show it to you in Greek, and then there's the word. It's "porneia," and we all know where that comes from. We know. We all know what that word means.
In other words, that the heart of immorality, it's what we're looking at. I read an article this week in my research. It's the study for this message, that there are some pornography industries now making their content, their content free. They're giving all their content away for free. In fact, they've done this both in Italy, so they're targeting these people stuck at home, saying, "Okay, we're gonna give you our premium content for free". And they're doing this in Spain, and they're doing this in France, and there's America next, where they just, like, we're gonna get you addicted to pornography and really you say, "Well, Chris, what's so wrong with it? It's just me, and it's just the screen, and I'm just sitting there".
Every study shows that it creates an addiction to greater amounts, and honestly, even more perverted types of pornography. And studies show that when we engage in this, it creates, we become desensitized to sexual abuse. We become actually more violent. Studies show this. Yeah, studies have shown that pornography use creates a higher likelihood in dysfunctional relationships. So, all of a sudden now your marriage and your relationships with others isn't working out, and you don't see the connection, but the studies say there is connection. And then most alarming is the effects that it's having on our children. In fact, studies say that most children, the average of their encountering in this for the first time is 11.
I got a call from a friend this week that said they found their 8-year-old online, and they were heartbroken at their little 8-year-old being exposed to this. I know this is tough to listen to. It's tough to speak about. But we have to wake up, right? We're living in a new normal where, I mean, the porn industries are intentionally making their content more available just to get people hooked, and we wonder what's going on? And that's why the Bible addresses it. It's very vocal on the subject, and I'm gonna get us into some good news here in just a minute, but I had to set the stage, right? In 1 Corinthians chapter 6, this is the chapter that really deals with it. And the Bible says, "Do you not know that your bodies", there's our word, "are members of Christ himself? Shall then I take the members of Christ and unite".
Now, the word "unite" there in the Greek means to fuse together at the deepest level, to unite. Would I do that with a prostitute? Never. Do you not know that he who unites himself, who becomes fused together at the deepest level.. so, it's not just happening in your head and in your mind. No, no, it's going deep into your life, becomes one with her, which by the way, was always the intention of healthy sexual relationships was that you become one with the person, not just physically, but emotionally. I won't teach on this. I've taught on it before. "For it's said, 'That the two will become one flesh.'" And that's what happens every time we engage and just we become one, and God says, "Look, if you do that with the wrong person, it can destroy your life".
Listen to me. God had this message right on time for this moment. I'm convinced. And I want you to be encouraged today. Because, again, your God understands. So, what do we do about it? What do we do about this issue of whether it's addiction or just I let my body run its course. There's debauchery or if there is fornication, there's porneia. There is sexual immorality. Let me give you two verses that I want to teach, and this is just some of the best news ever. It's gonna encourage you today, if you'll just lean in to this. Believe this, confess this. I'm gonna teach you these verses, the following verses in 1 Corinthians chapter 6. The Bible says, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you"? God's in you, "whom you've received from God. You are not your own: you were bought with a price".
And I love the way it ends. "Therefore, honor God with your body". I felt, as I studied these two verses, that I would give these three truths with three applications, three truths that I would love for you to write down or type on your phone. And actually, when you have your prayer time in the morning, even confess, I put it in a confession type of language so you could say it. And here's the first that comes out of those two verses, and that is my body is the place where God dwells. I think if you start the day off and say, "My body is the place where God dwells..." One of the biggest misunderstandings of Scripture is that, you know, people all it these buildings that I'm standing in right now, they call it the sanctuary. Well, technically, it's not.
And people say, "Come on, we're gathered together in God's house". This ain't God's house. I hate to tell you that. Now, you've heard me say it before, because we were trying to motivate you to believe that God's here, but the truth is you're the church building. You're the sanctuary. And it's so interesting to me how people are careful what they do in a church. So, even the biggest sinner would walk in a church and take his hat off, or speak a little softer. You know, you go to cathedrals, and everybody's very respectful. What would it be like if we could see ourselves that same way? What if we took the hat off, treated our bodies with that same level of respect?
So, our body's a cathedral, as the church building as a sanctuary. It's the place where God dwells. And honestly, the best way to take care of something like this, this building, this sanctuary, is what I allow into it. Now, there's only really one place where we allow things, or at least the beginning of where we allow things into our bodies, and it's a very small place on your body that everything's going into, and that is your eyes. And that's why Jesus said in Matthew chapter 6, "The eye is the lamp of the body. And if your eyes are good, your whole body is going to be good. But if your eyes are bad, it ain't just gonna stay in your eyes. Your whole body will be full of darkness".
Now think about that. In other words, if we could just manage one area of our lives right here, it really takes care of the rest of us. Romans 8 says it this way. "Those who are dominated by the sinful nature," their problem is they're thinking about it. So, they've allowed things into it, sinful things. "But those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit". So, what's the application today? I wanted to give you these three truths out of those two verses, but I'm gonna give you three applications. This stuff only really works if we'll do something, and I thought... I actually prayed. I said, "Lord, what could we all do this week"?
Come on. May 3rd to May 10th, what could we do between now and next Sunday? And here's the application. I think we ought to have a week where we do a body detox. And whatever is just too much, for some of us, that's food. That's gonna be me this week. I've already told Tammy we're gonna have a week where we're just gonna, we're gonna eat clean, we're gonna, but for some of you, you need to detox what's going on inside these eyes. For some of you, it'd be good for you to have a week with no social media. Some of you, it'd be a good week... you know what? We've been watching way too much TV, and some of it's really not been good, and so we're not gonna tune it down. We're gonna get rid of it for a week. I'm calling the church to a body fast. Whatever area, you pick the area, but whatever, it's just, you know what?
I've gotta get clean. I've gotta detox. I'm gonna get this out, and I'm gonna tell you what's gonna happen. You listen to me. It's gonna be one of the greatest weeks of your life. You're gonna feel better physically. But more importantly, you're gonna feel better emotionally this week. Come on, pick your area, talk to somebody, your small group, get on a Zoom, talk to a friend. Hey, I want to let you know this is what I'm doing this week. Here's the second truth that's in those little verses of Scripture, and that is that my body belongs to God. Remember, it said, "I am not my own". Why? "'Cause I've been bought. I've been bought with the blood of Jesus". I don't know if you know this or not, but whenever you ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, and to prepare a place for you in heaven, the deal was that you now belong to him.
So, if I belong to him, I have to ask his permission for anything I do with this. Now, if you're not a follower of Jesus, that sounds ridiculous. I'm gonna do it, I've heard people say, "I'll do what I want to do". Well, that's because you're not a follower of Jesus. But for those of us who are believers, we understand this truth: that I belong to God. And I'm gonna give you one application. Bringing this message to a close, I'm gonna give you one application that'll help you do it. To me, it's the most beautiful way to say, "Lord, I'm not mine. I belong to you". It's found in Romans chapter 12. It says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of the fact that God is so incredibly merciful..."
Now stop right there and just soak that all in. I'm looking at you. I'm saying, "Hey, if you've messed up, if you're doing whatever too much: gambling, lusting, watching stuff you shouldn't watch, drinking, I don't know what it is, but you need to know that your God is merciful. In other words, he's willing to let you off the hook again". And Paul says, "In view of the fact that he's so incredibly merciful, offer your body to", in other words, give it to him all over again, "Lord, I'm so sorry I took back what I gave to you, but I'm giving it to you again, a living sacrifice". How do you do that? Look at the last word. Worship. To me, the greatest way to say, "God, I belong to you," is worship. That's the application. I mean, I'm serious. Like, I want you to worship.
Now, how do we worship. We worship the way that God has us to worship, amen. You say, "Well, that's not my personality. That's not my... I don't shout and dance, and I don't lift my hands". Well, I'm so sorry. The Bible, God gets to choose how he likes to be loved, and he wrote 150 chapters, the biggest book in the Bible, in the book of Psalms, on the kind of worship he likes. You clap, you sing, you lift your hands. I promise you, if you'll wake up tomorrow morning, have some quiet time with God, turn on some music, and lift those hands, I'm telling you, and say, "God, I belong to you," it will change everything about your day and everything about your life. Worship. And for those of you who are still a little conservative with it, if I could say it respectfully, your conservative worship only protects your ego.
Would you please give God the kind of worship that he asks for? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; two verses, three principles. Here's the third, and that is that my body was my body was made to honor God. Remember, the whole text ends, "Therefore honor God with your body". Just honor him with your life. And I love this one, because everything else we've been talking about today is about what we need to stop doing. You know, the real secret of a life-giving relationship with God isn't in what you stop doing. It's in what you start doing. In other words, the most motivating way, you've gotta catch this, 'cause the church is known too much for what it's against, and the church needs to be known way more for what it's for. And I don't come here and tell you, "You'd better read the Bible".
I'm saying you get to read the Bible. I don't come in here and say, "Well, you'd better pray". No, no, you get to talk to God. And one of the secrets to getting this body in control isn't to keep telling it what not to do. It's to make sure you understand that your body has a purpose. Your body, your body can be an instrument that honors God. Think about that. And that's why Romans 6 says this: "Do not let the parts of your body to become instruments of evil". What would you want to just drink with your body, or take drugs with your body, or lust with your body, when you can give your body completely to God?
You say, "Chris, what's the application there"? You have a purpose. Let me say it this way. All these people that you saw on the news segment, and if you are watching this service today, and you just went straight to the message, go back and be a part of the worship, and then watch our Highlands News, because in it we show hundreds, thousands of red shirts. Dream Teamers. I promise you this: they're not thinking about what show they've missed on TV. And they're not thinking about fighting off sin over here. Why? 'Cause they got busy doing something. I'm serious. One of the best ways... let me say it this way... to stay pure in your body is to have something greater in your life than all that stuff that your body wants.
Man, that's powerful. I want to close with a story, and it's a Bible story that I just want to tell. I'm not gonna teach 'cause I want you just to see it. Most people, even if you're not a Christian or don't get to church much, you probably still have heard of King David. He's the one that wrote most of the Psalms. He was a guy that God loved deeply. In fact, the Bible says that he was a man after God's own heart. Beautiful relationship, David and God. But, of course, he had several times in his life, where he just messed up with his body. He let his body call the shots. And there was an incident where he actually walked out on his balcony of the palace, and he looked across, and he saw a young lady who happened to be married to somebody else, naked and bathing, and he lusted after her. He ordered his men, as king, he could do this, told those men, "Go get her. I want her". "But, sir, he's married". "I don't care, I want her".
Sent her husband off to war, put him on the front lines so he could be killed. "I'm gonna take her as my own wife". So, this great king, who loved God, God loved him... in fact, God even says, "I'll always have an heir of the throne of David". Jesus comes from David's line. Think about it. Here he is letting his body call the shots. And a verse that a lot of people miss, I just want to show you one verse, one more verse, 'cause it's so powerful to this truth right here. "And in the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David remained in Jerusalem". So, the whole reason why the Bathsheba story happened was because he was supposed to be out there fighting some other battles. And he decided to stay home.
I think this coronavirus has got a lot of fighters, a lot of purpose-filled people and people that you know you have a call of God on your life, but they told us to go stay at home. And it's made you where you're doing some things thinking some things. You even treated your kids, perhaps (or I don't know) in ways that like you think, I love God. Who is this person? And it's just the enemy of your soul, the devil, who's using this coronavirus to not only affect our physical bodies with the disease, but it'll affect our soul and our livelihood. Because what I do, there's always two things, and they both start with the same word. Confess to God, confess to a trusted friend.
1 John 1:9, "If you'll confess," and you do this right now, you don't even have to pray it out loud. You can do it in your heart. Paul says, "If you confess your sins to God... that fast, he's faithful and just to forgive you of your sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness". Join me. Father, I'm so sorry I've let my body call the shots. God, I'm so sorry that I've let my body wage this war on the inside of me. God, I love you. I love you. I delight in your law, and here I am doing things that I shouldn't be doing, and I'm asking you to forgive me. Would you whisper that? Lord, will you forgive me? Guess what? He just did. Hey, look at me. Be forgiven. But it's not enough.
James 5:16 says, "Now go confess your faults one to another. Pray for each other and you'll be healed". You go to God for forgiveness, but you do have to go to God's people for healing. And I'm asking you right now to think of a trusted friend, maybe someone in your Small Group. And I know we're not meeting right now, but we still have relationships. We can pick up a phone, or we can meet somewhere, six feet apart, and say, "I need your help," but you be an accountability partner with me. It helped me get through this. I told Tammy she's my accountability partner. If I ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, don't give it to me. We need each other.
So, Father, I pray for every person right now, that you would help them to have the wisdom to know who that person is.
God's presence is here with us today. And if you're here, and you just feel like you're so far from God, it's probably because you need to give your life to God. Can I lead you to God right now? You want your sins forgiven? You want to be a Christian? If you're backslidden or away from God, you want to come home? You want to come home? You want a fresh start? That can happen right now with one honest, sincere prayer, where you give him your life. If that's you, pray this with me. Say:
Jesus, thank you for going to the cross to pay for my sins. Today I receive the forgiveness of my sins, and I surrender my life completely to you. (Would you do that? Just give him your life.) Take my life. Take my life. Thank you, Lord, for setting me free. I belong to you.