James Meehan - Why Should I Obey God?
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So when I was in the sixth grade, I went to the summer camp, and our camp counselor had us get up in the middle of the night and go outside of the sixth grade girls camp, and all of us sang that song in unison together, because our camp counselor had a crush on the girl's camp counselor. And so we were like trying to help him out, you know, get in a relationship. 'Cause that's also what we're talking about, relationships. So big news. I am now officially a dad. My wife and I got to welcome our first son, James Siro Mehan the fourth, AKA Quatro, AKA Jace, AKA P for J, that stands for pimp for Jesus, into the world. And let me tell you something, the dad life, woo, it has been an absolute blast. That's why for me, the year 2021 is the year of the dad bod. My goal, I wanna get jacked, but not too jacked. You know what I mean? Like that perfect blend of dad bodishness. And other reason why I tell you about my son is because what we're talking about today is the subject of where babies come from. Come on somebody, it's the birds and the bees. It's love baby, talking about you and me.
Now, we're in our series the habits of holiness. We're in week number two. We're talking about choosing obedience. Why? Because as followers of Jesus, we have been called to live Holy lives to represent our Holy God. Last week, we kicked off the series with the idea that in order for us to do that we've gotta first remember who we are, because until we know who we are as Holy people, we'll never be able to live out our calling to live Holy lives to represent our Holy God. So, like I said, we're in week two of habits of holiness. We're talking about choosing obedience. And the reason why we chose to use those words specifically is because of the unfortunate reality that for many of us in our world today, our understanding of obedience and authority has been so distorted by the corrupt politicians, by the immoral and hypocritical religious leaders, by the celebrities and influencers who claim to care about their fans, but really just care about their fortune and fame. And because of that, I think what's happened is even the idea of obedience or authority has just gotten this really bad rap, to the point where now, when we think about obedience to God, we're submitting to his authority.
There's this sense of like hesitation, or maybe aversion, or even resistance to that idea altogether. But throughout the scriptures, over and over and over again we see this calling as God's people to choose obedience to him rather than obedience to anything else. And I think one of the most important things we have to understand is that obedience to God isn't just something we do to check off a list. It's not just something we do to like make ourselves feel better, or to do so that God will love us more. No, the reason why we choose obedience to God is because he is a good and loving father. And so what we're gonna do throughout the course of today's message is answer three big questions about choosing obedience. Question number one, why should we choose obedience? Question number two is what does obedience actually look like when it comes to living with sexual integrity, both in real life and online as followers of Jesus? And then question number three will be how do we actually choose obedience in like a really practical day by day basis?
So the first question is this, why should we choose obedience to God? In one sentence, the answer is, because obedience to God is so much better than obedience to anyone or anything else. In first Peter chapter one, the apostle Peter, who was one of Jesus's original 12 disciples, is writing this letter to encourage and equip the early Christian community to remember who they are, and remember who they're called to be as God's people. So starting in chapter one of this letter, verse 14, he says this. He says "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance, but just as he who called you is Holy, so be Holy in all, you do. For it is written be Holy because I am Holy". What Peter is telling us is that we can either choose obedience to God, or obedience to our own desires. The problem with obedience to our desires is that those desires do not lead us in the direction that God has called us to live. And so as followers of Christ, we've gotta choose obedience to God so that we can live the Holy lives that our Holy God has called us to live.
Then in chapter two of the same letter, Peter goes on to say that you, as a follower of Christ, you are a chosen people. You are a royal priesthood, a Holy nation. You're God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. There was a time where you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. There was a time where you had not yet received mercy, but now you have received mercy. So dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. So what Peter is telling us is that we have to either choose obedience to God, or obedience to our own sinful desires. And when we choose obedience to our desires, what we're doing without even realizing it, is we are waging war on our very souls. We are choosing to give up the life and the calling that God has for us, the joy, the peace, the love, the meaning that he's offering to us. And instead we're settling for something that is so much less, something that is so much more empty.
So why should we choose obedience to God? Because obedience to God is so much better than obedience to anyone or anything else. So question number two, what does choosing obedience actually look like in our in real life and online relationships? Again, I'm gonna give you the one sentence summary. The one sentence summary of what it looks like to choose obedience is this. It's choosing to love others the same way that God through Christ has loved us, by reserving sex for marriage, and refusing to objectify others. It's choosing to love others the same way that God through Christ has loved us, by reserving sex for marriage, and refusing to objectify others. Let's talk about reserving sex for marriage. Like why is that important? Why is that a part of the Christian sexual ethic? Because what we all know is that that is very different than what our world tells us today. And the reason why this is such a big deal is because sex is a really powerful thing. Sex causes people to do things, to say things, to think things that they probably wouldn't normally do, say or think. And when we take something like sex that is so powerful, and we put it in the wrong context, it can cause ridiculous harm and damage to ourselves and others.
Now, some of you, you're hearing this, and you're like, yeah, no, I don't buy it. It's harmless. It's just two people who, you know, have feelings for each other, having a good time, but look at our world today and you will see the negative consequences of sex in the wrong context. Literally, like think about the world that we live in today, with the amount of sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Think about the amount of unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions. Think about the fact that there are so many people, so many kids who are growing up without their parents in the home, whether their father or their mother. Think about the rise of toxic masculinity or the me too movement that's showing the negative consequences that have come when people have chosen obedience to their sexual desires rather than keeping sex in its proper context. And the list goes on and on and on. The reason why the Christian sexual ethic says that sex is reserved for marriage is because sex is a powerful, and unfortunately oftentimes dangerous thing, that when used in the wrong context causes significant harm to ourselves and others.
So in Matthew chapter 19, Jesus is actually having a conversation with some guys that are trying to like catch him in a trap, but it's in this conversation that Jesus walks through what marriage is, and a part of what it's meant to be. And so I wanna read that to you now to help us understand a little bit more about why sex is reserved for marriage. It's in verse four where Jesus says "Hey, haven't you read that at the beginning, the creator, he made the male and female, and he said hey, for this reason a man will leave his father and mother, and he will be United to his wife. The two will become one flesh". Then he says "They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together let no one separate". Now I think one of the things that we can do is we can talk about marriage without actually fully understanding the significance of it. So let's take a moment to talk about the purpose of marriage. Three key ideas about the purpose of marriage. The first one is that marriage is meant to be a place where we are in relationship with another person, because God in the very beginning of the Bible, he says it's not good for man to be alone.
So I think part of the purpose of marriage is for us to have relationship and companionship. But even before that, the first command God gives in the entire Bible to people is to be fruitful and multiply. Yup, purpose number two of marriage, to make babies. Come on somebody. And then purpose number three, and I think this is one of the things that we so often miss, but is so important for us to understand. I think the third purpose of marriage, and maybe even the most important part of marriage is it's a way for us to reflect the nature of our relational God. Here's what I mean. In the beginning, God created human beings, right? He created male and female. He created them in his image. And so with men and women, each of them are made in the image of God. And the thing is men and women, they're different, right? They're not the exact same. And so both of them are made in the image of God. Each of them reflects different aspects of God's nature. But when the two become one, they start to show us another aspect of God's nature. Because the God of the Bible, the God of Christianity is a relational God.
We believe in the Trinity. That is that God is three persons, but one being. He is a three and one God. God, the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. So the very nature of our God is relational. And when the two become one, what we see is another aspect of God being reflected. His relational nature. Marriage is meant to be a picture of our relational God. So let me kind of give you an illustration for how that works. Iron man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, they've all got their own movies, and in their own movies you see different aspects of who they are as heroes, right? Like what they stand for, how they fight, what their character is. But then, when they all joined together in "The Avengers," all of a sudden you see different sides of each of those heroes. You start to discover more about who they are when they're in relationship with one another. That's exactly what marriage is supposed to be, just like "The Avengers". Like not exactly, but do you get what I'm saying? It's this idea that when the different parts come together in the whole, you see a more complete picture.
You see a different angle. And it's the same way with what it means to be human, and the character of our God. It is through relationship. It's through coming together that we see another aspect of our relational God, and we understand more of what it means to be made in his image. So a quick note, marriage is a really good thing, but it's not the most important thing. What we've gotta understand is that sex and marriage are not requirements for living a meaningful and fulfilled life. Jesus was single and celibate. That means he never had sex and he wasn't married. And so if you think those are requirements, then basically what you're saying is that Jesus didn't live a meaningful life, which is crazy. So, yes, marriage is a really good thing, but it's not the most important thing. So that's the purpose of marriage. Three ideas, companionship, making babies, and to reflect the nature of our relational God. Choosing obedience to God means choosing to love others the same way that God through Christ has loved you. By reserving sex for marriage, and refusing to objectify others. Now that second thing, refusing to objectify others, was also a really big deal to Jesus.
In Matthew chapter five, verse 27 Jesus says "You've heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery, but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away". So why was Jesus so serious about lust? I think it's because Jesus understands that lust is choosing our desires over someone else's dignity. Jesus understands that every time we lust, what we're doing is we're training ourselves to see others as objects for our pleasure rather than as people to be loved. What Jesus understands is that lust leads us to objectify others, human beings made in the image of God, who have dignity, who have value, and who have purpose, human beings that Jesus died for, and that we have been called to love. But when we lust, what we do is we see them as objects. That's literally what it means to objectify somebody else. And to objectify someone is just kind of like a less harsh way of saying to de-humanize them. And if we, as followers of Christ, are called to live Holy lives, to represent a Holy God, then it requires us to see people the same way that God sees them. Not as objects for our pleasure, but as people to be loved.
So we talked about why we should choose obedience, because obedience to God is so much better than obedience to anyone or anything else. We talked about what obedience actually looks like. It's choosing to love others the same way that God through Christ has loved us, by reserving sex for marriage and refusing to objectify others. Now, let's talk about the third question. How do we choose obedience? 'Cause it's one thing to talk about it, and it's another thing to actually do it. That's where it really gets difficult. And so what I wanna do is give you some tips and tricks to help you choose obedience, to actually live this out. So the first way that we choose obedience is we've gotta stop trying, and we've gotta start training. In first Corinthians 9:26 and 27, the apostle Paul says this. "So I run with purpose in every step. I'm not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should". Paul isn't saying that I try to do what I should, he says "I train myself to what I should".
Now for more context on this, our senior pastor, Craig Groeschel, taught an incredible message in his series The Greater Reward. You can find it on YouTube, just search Why Can't I Change? Life church. It'll pull it up, and that will be such a helpful way for you to understand what it looks like to not just try to choose obedience, but to train yourself to choose obedience. So the first thing, stop trying, start training. The second thing, eliminate temptations today so you don't have to resist them tomorrow. Eliminate temptations today so that you don't have to resist them tomorrow. First Corinthians chapter six, verse 18, the apostle Paul says to flee from sexual immorality, right? Don't resist it, flee from it. One of the most helpful things that I did was lock down my phone so that I didn't even have access to websites or images or videos that I knew I shouldn't look at. And there might be some of you who you've been wrestling with an addiction to pornography, and you've tried over and over again to resist the temptation. Stop trying, start training. Don't resist it tomorrow, eliminate it today. Put some restrictions on your phone. Others of you, you and maybe your girlfriend or your boyfriend, you've been crossing some lines that you know you shouldn't cross. Don't wait until you're making out to try to resist the temptation of going further, have a conversation today. Set boundaries in place to help you choose obedience.
So the first thing, stop trying, start training. The second thing, eliminate temptations today, so you don't have to resist them tomorrow. And the third thing is get help. In Galatians chapter six, verse two, the apostle Paul, again, he's writing, and he says this. He says that we are to carry each other's burdens. And in this way we will fulfill the law of Christ. As followers of Jesus, we were never meant to go through this alone. You are not meant to face these temptations on your own. And so maybe for some of you, what you're gonna do is, when you get home from Switch, or after you finish watching this message, you're gonna talk to your parents and just ask them for advice. Maybe for others of you, you're gonna talk to your Switch Group and say look, this is where I've been struggling, and I need your help. Will you pray for me? Maybe for you, you're in a place right now where you don't even have community. And we so badly want for you to have people in your life that you can do life with.
And so whether that's your small group at Switch in real life, or a Switch online small group, we wanna help you get connected. If you're watching this on YouTube, in the description of this video you're gonna see a link that you can fill out to get connected to one of those online small groups, because none of us were meant to do life alone. So this is how we actually choose obedience to God. The first thing is we stop trying and we start training. The second thing is we eliminate temptations today so that we don't have to resist them tomorrow. And the third thing is we get help. So for you, as a follower of Jesus, you have been called to live a Holy life to represent a Holy God. And what that means is that there are gonna be things that you do, there are gonna be choices that you make that look very different from the people around you. Because in our sex-crazed culture, choosing to live by a Christian sexual ethic is gonna be weird to people, but I'm telling you it is worth it, because obedience to God is so much better than obedience to anyone or anything else. Because obedience to God leads us to life.
It leads us to freedom. It leads us to meaning, to purpose, to joy that so many people in our world are desperate for. And when you choose to represent your Holy God by living a Holy life, what you will be is you will be a light in the darkness for so many people that are going through life wishing for something more, wishing for something better, because our God is the author of life. He is the Lord of Lords and the King of King. And he says that anybody who comes to him will find life, and life to the full. And so you, right there, wherever you're watching this from, you have been called by God to live a Holy life, to represent a Holy God. Because when you do that everything changes. When you choose obedience, when you choose to love others the same way that God through Christ has loved you, you will become a catalyst for change in the lives of the people around you, in a way that I believe will cause them to tell stories about the moment when they encounter Jesus that they will never forget. So wherever you are today, I hope that you'll choose obedience, because obedience to God is so much better than obedience to anyone or anything else.