Robert Morris - The Thief of Devotion
Okay, so we are finishing our series today called Simplify, and every week I've been reading out of a different version, 2 Corinthians 11:3. I started with the New American Standard. The next week I did the New King James. Last week I did The Message. This week I'm going to read you the verse out of the New Living Translation. And this is what it says in the New Living Translation, 2 Corinthians 11:3, "But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent".
So, here's the title of the message today: The Thief of Devotion. Now, I know we would think of a person being Satan, and obviously he's behind it, but I'm going to tell you about an emotion that can be a righteous emotion or an unrighteous emotion, that is the thief, that shows us in Scripture, is the thief of our pure and simple devotion. Now, I want to also say, I said this last weekend, that I called the series Simplify, and maybe you were thinking I was going to tell you some simple ways to simplify your life. I am telling you one simple way to simplify your life, and that is to rekindle your pure simple devotion to Jesus Christ. That is one of the best ways I know. So, that's what we're talking about. All right? So, we're going to talk about the thief of devotion.
Now, when I said that there's an impure emotion, and there's a pure emotion, we can say that about nearly all emotions. And I want to say something about last weekend. Last weekend when I was studying, on Saturday, I got angrier and angrier at legalism, because legalism steals more believers' joy than anything that I know. And if you think in any way that it's "grace and..." or "grace plus..." or "grace but..." A lot of people say, "Well, it's grace but..." And I think I mentioned this last weekend, so I've just finished the manuscript on a book that'll come out next spring called "Grace, Period". It is grace, period. But I got angrier and angrier last week as I studied. And then when I was, I literally turned the message on, on my way home, and I had not even gotten to my house, which is only about 10 minutes away, and I realized that I was angry as I was speaking. I actually realized it while I was speaking, and I tried to tone it down some.
So, I just want to say, if it came across last week that I was angry, I'm sorry, because I want to be angry at the enemy, but I never want you to feel I'm angry at you. So, okay, will you accept that apology? Okay, all right, and for the rest of you that didn't think about it, then nevermind. Okay. But let's go back. So, Paul is saying, in the same way that the serpent deceived Eve, we've talked about that, but what I want to show you is the first response to sin. And this is the thief of devotion. Genesis 3, this is after they sin, verse 8. "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?' So, he said, 'I heard Your voice in the garden'" watch this, "'and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.'"
The first response to God after sin came into the world was fear. And I told you a moment ago, there's a righteousness and there's an unrighteous. So, there's a righteous fear and an unrighteous fear. As a matter of fact, one of the most frequent messages of the Bible, and in Proverbs, you see it a lot, is, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. So, you haven't actually even gotten to first base, when it comes to being a wise person, without the fear of the Lord. So, there's a righteous fear, that word fear there means to respect or to honor or to awe, literally to be awestruck. So, there's a righteous fear. But what happened with Adam and Eve is an unrighteous fear came in. And what you'll see is, the number one repeated commandment, and I'm talking about in the imperative form, grammatically, in the Bible, is, "Fear not". "Fear not". "Don't be afraid".
So, nearly every time God shows up or an angel shows up to talk to someone, you'll remember this. Angel shows up, and what do they say first? "Fear not," or "Don't be afraid". So, why would he say that? It's because that unrighteous fear that came into Adam and Eve when they sinned immediately shows up, and they were, think about this, afraid of God, but God had never done anything that would cause them to have an unrighteous fear of Him, not one time, nothing. And so, here is the thief of devotion, and it's fear. And I want to give you the three top fears, I believe, and show you God's answer. All right? So, here's the first one, the number one is the fear of rejection, the fear of rejection.
Now, you were created by love. Now, I'm going to explain that to you in a minute. You might say to me, "No, no, Pastor Robert, this is pretty simple. Go back to Genesis and read it. I was created by God". Correct, but 1 John 4:8 says, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love". So, yes, I agree, we were created by God, but God is... Okay, so we were created by Love, correct? Everyone with me? Okay, we were all created by God. I agree. We were created by God. But if the Bible tells us God is love, then another way of saying it is we were created by Love. So, if I was created by Love, then I was created to love and to be loved. So, my number one fear is the fear of rejection. Do you want to know why? Because my number one need is love. My number one need is acceptance. So, if my number one need is acceptance, then my number one fear is rejection.
Let me kind of say this another way. We need to understand that whatever you are afraid of is actually what you will worship. In other words, if you're afraid of rejection, you will worship acceptance. Because you're afraid to be rejected, when someone says something to you, you don't want that person to reject you, and so you'll do everything you can to phrase your answer in such a way that you don't get rejected. And you'll have maybe three or four conscious memories and maybe hundreds of subconscious memories of being rejected. So, you'll think, "I don't want to be rejected again. And so, I want to answer this question truthfully, but I want to answer it in such a way that this person doesn't reject me, because my greatest need is acceptance". Everyone follow me? Now, let me say this. Satan... Paul said, "I'm afraid he'll do it the same way he did it with Eve".
Okay. Here's what he did with Eve. He tempted her with something she already had. All three of these fears, I'm going to show you that they're not correct fears because what he's tempting you with is something, the answer to it, the solution, you actually already have. For instance, his temptation to Eve was, "If you eat this, you will be like God". She was already like God. She was made, we use this word a lot, in the image of God, but go back and read it. Genesis 1:26 says, "Then God said, 'Let us make mankind...'" That's the word for man there, mankind, "'...in the image, in our image after our likeness.'" So, she was made in the likeness of God. She was already like God. And Satan says to her, "If you'll eat this, you'll be like God". But she was already like God.
Now, remember this word, devotion. Remember I said, whatever it is that you're afraid of, you'll be devoted then to the opposite of that. Okay, I told you about, that the word devotion comes from the word vote. Devote comes from the word vote. The word vote means vow. The word vow means commitment. So, whatever it is that you're devoted to... In other words, if you're devoted to acceptance, you're committed to acceptance. So, you live your life... Here's the reason that I know so much about this. I've had it for years. I've had this disease. I grew up wanting to be accepted, and so I did anything I could to be accepted. Here's the lie. Let me show you the lie. According to the Bible, Ephesians 1:6, "...to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made [past tense] us accepted [past tense] in the Beloved".
So, what Satan is tempting you with, saying, "If you'll do this or say this, you'll be accepted," what your answer needs to be is, "I'm already accepted". That's what Eve's answer needed to be. When, Satan said, "If you do this, you'll be like God," she should have said, "I'm already like God". So, when Satan tempts you that, "If you don't do this now, if you don't submit to these peers, if you don't try this drug, if you don't take this drink, if you don't do this, then you're not going to be in the group," what you need to say is, "I'm already in the group, and it's a better group than your group". I'm already accepted.
When I was in junior high and high school, I got involved in drugs. And I've told you about that and I... But the reason I did it was because that group that was doing drugs accepted me. And I didn't think that the popular kids would accept me. And by the way, there was another group that accepted me in high school. It was the rodeo club. And I got in with and started, think about this, calf ropin' and all that would've been great if I had the brains to do that, but I did bull riding. That's stupid. And I'm not saying if you're a bull rider and you're watching, that's stupid, 'cause you're probably great at it. But I didn't have the body to bull ride. Bull riders, if you ever look at 'em, they're short and stocky. The reason is, they want to be, you want to be close to the bull.
The closer you are, the easier it is. You don't want, I was tall and lanky in high school. You don't see a lot of tall and lanky bull riders. They're dead. I had the wrong body for that, but I did it because that's the group that accepted me. This is something, please understand, young people, and parents of young people, please understand that your child, your adolescent now was born looking for acceptance, and the only way you or any person you love is ever going to find acceptance is in Jesus Christ. That's the only way, because, so, you got to remember, since our greatest need is love, our greatest fear is rejection. So, that's the first one, is rejection. Here's the second one, the fear of failure, the fear of failure. And when you fear failure, you are fully devoted to success, and you will live your life trying to be successful.
Now, let me talk about another word for devotion that we've not talked about yet. It's the word worship. And I've done series on worship, and yet I thought to myself, I've never even given you the definition of worship. I've given you one of my definitions, which is love expressed, but I've never broken the word down for you. And I love, you all know, I love breaking down the word. Where did the word actually come from? Okay, worship came from two words, worth, worth, W-O-R-T-H, worth, and ship. Now, here's the only problem. We don't know where ship came from. When we think of ship, we think of a big boat. So, we think that worship means that I would feel worthy if I had a big boat, but that's not what it means. Ship as a suffix actually means, the state of, the state of.
So, let me give you some words that you've heard that will make sense to you now. Lordship. We talk about the lordship of Christ. In other words, the lordship of Christ means the state of being Lord. Did everyone catch that? All right. We talk about discipleship. Discipleship means the state of being a disciple. Here's one, fellowship. It means the state of being a fellow or a friend to someone else. I heard one guy define fellowship. He said, "It's like two guys in a boat". He still had the boat in his mind. He couldn't get the boat out of his mind. Here's a word, relationship. It's the state of being related to someone, whether it's a friendship relationship or a marriage or a family or something. But it's the state of. Are, you all following me? Okay?
So, what does worship mean? It's the state of worth. In other words, it means that you and I have come to the place that we have realized that Jesus is in the place of worth in our life. And so, we value Him. We put a value on Him. So, the reason I'm telling you this is, if you fear failure, I said you'll be devoted to success. Let me help you just a little bit more. If you fear failure, you will worship success. You will value success. You will value money. You will chase money, because you fear failure. So, you value whatever it is, success. Now, for some people, it might not be money. It might be influence, or excel, or some sort of popularity, or some sort of position, or some sort of promotion, or some sort of position, whatever it is. But you, please hear this, this is what Paul is saying was his greatest fear.
"My greatest fear is the same way that Eve was drawn away, she was deceived by Satan, your hearts would be drawn away from the simplicity of worship..." And let me say it another way, "...simplicity of devotion and worship to Jesus". In the same way. In other words, so this is why you need to see this is so important. Whatever you fear, you worship. You put worth and value, so that you don't have to go through that. You don't want to fail. But look at this verse, Matthew 6:24. "No one..." this is Jesus speaking by the way, so "no one" includes you. "No one can serve two masters. For either you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted [vowed or committed] to one and despise the other. You cannot..." Not, "you should not," but, "you cannot". It's impossible to "serve both God and money".
I just want you, I just want us to examine. Do you have a drive in you to succeed? Well, just to throw in a bonus here, by the way, okay, would you like the Christian definition of successful? The Christian definition of success is obedience. If you obey, you are successful, no matter how the project turned out. That's the Christian definition, and I could prove it with a hundred scriptures, but we don't have time in the three short hours that I have left. I was joking. I got one, though, says, "Robert, I'm ready. I don't have anything else to do, so go for it". All right. But whatever, you are, you're committed to it. Remember again, the word devote comes from the word vote, which means vow, which means being committed to. When you vote for a referendum or a candidate, you vow to be committed to that referendum or to that candidate. See? So, you're placing a worth there.
Now, let me talk about this drive for success. All right? Again, I had this as well. I didn't want to fail. I wanted to be successful. And so, I though, was... So, you're going to relate to one of these. Okay? And I use Debbie and I a lot as examples. It's amazing when we meet people, "Hi, this is my wife Debbie". They say, "Oh, I know Debbie," because of all the illustrations I share. and Debbie says, "I don't know what you would do for illustrations if it wasn't for me". So, but the reason I share is because we're opposites in our personalities. And that, what that does is that balances us. And so, it's wonderful. So, sometimes. All right, so anyway, It's always wonderful, Sugar. It's always wonderful. So, but here's the thing. So, if you said to me, "You can't do that," then my response would be, "Yeah, watch, watch me". And then, I never understood this saying. "I'll either do it or I'll die trying".
Well, doesn't, if you die trying, doesn't that mean you didn't do it? So, I don't think that makes much sense to say that. Okay? All right. But Debbie, in other words, I was motivated by negative impulses, negative reinforcement. She's not. She's motivated by positive reinforcement. You can see how that caused problems in our marriage for a while. Okay? So, if I said to her, "You can't do that," she says, "Yeah, that's what I was thinking, so I'm just not even going to try". And I was saying, "No, that's not what I meant". "Well, that's what you said. You said I couldn't do it, and I was already thinking I couldn't do it, so, you just confirmed it to me". So, what happens is, it's either a drive to succeed, or it's a bent to not try at all. And I just want you to think about, which one do you relate to?
And here's the incredible thing, again. Remember that everything that Satan tempts you with is something in Christ you already have the genuine article. Okay? So, now we're talking about success. Listen to this verse, 2 Corinthians 2:14. "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ". You're going to triumph in Christ. Now, that doesn't mean it might turn out exactly like you think, but if you obey, you're going to be victorious in that situation. Now, I want to read this like I wrote it, because this is something I really wish you could either grab a hold of or hold onto, or we'll put it on Instagram or whatever so you remember. Don't worship something you already have, and don't fear something that Christ has already defeated. Don't worship something you already have. You already have success in Christ, so why worship it? You already have acceptance, so why worship it? And don't fear something that Christ has already defeated.
So, don't fear failure and don't fear rejection, because He's already defeated it. And my next point we're going to go to is life and death. So, you don't need to worship life, and I'll explain that to you a minute, and you don't need to fear death. So, the third point is the fear of death. The closer we get to the Lord, the less we fear death. I'm just telling you, the closer you get... Now, I don't mean the closer you get to death. Okay? I'm not saying that. I'm saying the closer you get to the Lord. As a matter of fact, I can gauge where I am spiritually by either how much peace I have or how much fear I have in my life at that time. I can gauge if I need to re-up my commitment to Christ, if I have a lot of fear in my life at that time, or I can gauge that I'm doing well in my relationship if I have a lot of peace at that time. I'm saying some really incredible things today, just so you'll know.
All right. Let me just show you why you don't need to fear death as a Christian. And this verse is one that I went through five years ago when I had the near death experience. Philippians 1:21, "For to me," Paul said, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain". That's what I thought. I just felt like, either way I win. Either way I win. "But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell". I literally felt that way because of what I tasted in that helicopter. "For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better". I'm telling you, what I felt in the helicopter was far better than anything I've ever felt on this earth. "Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you". Or more needful for the body of Christ.
So, I know if I stay, God can use me to do more things in the body of Christ, but I don't know which one to choose. And people have said to me, "Thank you for fighting for your life". I actually didn't fight for my life. I fought for God's will at that time. I said, "God, whatever You want, that's what I want". So, you need to understand that whatever it is that you fear, you'll be devoted to. So, if you fear death, you'll be devoted to, or you'll worship life. Now, here's what you'll say. "Well, what's wrong with worshiping life or enjoying life"? Oh, nothing's wrong with it, as long as it's the right kind of life. Remember, there's a wrong kind of fear and a right kind of fear, okay? There's a wrong kind of life and a right kind of life. And let me explain to you, one is from God, one's from Satan.
Let me keep going. Temporal life and eternal life. Temporal life did not come into this world until sin came into this world. There was no death until sin came into the world. Read Romans 5. Sin entered the world through Adam. And when sin entered the world, death entered the world. So, God created eternal life from the beginning. And when sin came into the world from Satan, that's when temporal life... So, here's why I'm saying. If you fear death, you'll actually worship temporal life. You will worship and seek after the temporary. And here is the sadness. The temporary cannot bring you joy. So, even though I'm living in the temporary now, my joy is from everything that I'm doing that's going to be eternal. That's where my joy comes from.
So, when I say don't worship life, I don't mean, don't enjoy life, but don't worship the temporal, because that's exactly what the enemy wants you to do. This fear of death, by the way, do you know it is the number two fear. When they do all the studies, it's the number two fear that every person lists, the fear of death. Do you know what the number one fear is? Speaking in front of people. That means people would rather die than have to speak at a funeral. "I'd rather be in the casket than the guy that has to speak today". That's just, that's crazy to me. I don't get it personally, but you know, 'cause I speak in front of people all the time, and I just know, I'm just stupid and God just takes care of it.
So, it's not that big of a deal anymore, you know? But do you know most, not most, I don't know if I should say most, 'cause I don't know that psychologically. Many phobias are related to the fear of death. Let me just name a few. Okay? I've heard people say, "I fear snakes". No, you don't. You fear being bitten by a snake and dying. I've heard people say, "I fear tornadoes". No, you don't. You fear being caught up in a tornado and dying. I've heard people say, "I fear heights". No you don't. You fear splattering, and dying. See, this fear of death is an incredible thing. So, remember I told you, that all this stuff is taken care of in Jesus. So, I want to just make a statement that's going to be an incredible statement that may take you a while to get, but I'm going to unpack it for you. All right?
If you fear death, then just go ahead and get it over with. Because Jesus said, "If you want to follow Me, take up the cross and follow Me". You know what He was saying? Die to self. Just go ahead and die. As a matter of fact, Paul said it this way. "I've been crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me". The Bible says that we're baptized into His death, and we're raised to walk a new life in Christ Jesus. Now, when I got this revelation for the first time, I hadn't been a Christian very long, and I went straight into preaching. I got saved at 19 by an evangelist. I got saved like at five o'clock in a hotel room, and like at six o'clock he said, "I want you to share your testimony tonight". And I got up, he was supposed to preach, and I got up. And right before I got up he said, "Just take as long as you want".
And there were, you know, thousands in this thing. And here I was, I'd been saved an hour. And I got up and I told 'em, I said, "I grew up in church. I knew about God, but now I know Him". And I took about 20 minutes. And then I said, "And if you don't know that you're going to go to heaven when you die. But even, but many of you grew up in church, you've even been baptized, but you don't know, I want you to get up and just walk down here right now". And 364 people got saved, and I'd been saved just a few hours. But it wasn't, it wasn't because I was a good preacher, 'cause I didn't know anything. All I knew was Jesus. I just got up told them about Jesus. So, but I started preaching. And so, I started getting asked to do funerals, for the family members, in other words. And a lot of 'em were in Debbie's family. They were older and when they were, and they passed away, and you know, Robert was a preacher.
And so, "We'll have Robert do the sermon". And so, I can remember the very first one I ever did. It was for one of her family members, and I mean the funeral director, I had go ask the funeral director, "What do I do"? I didn't know what to do. And he told me, "You know, you need to stand at the head of the casket when people come by". I didn't know that. And literally I went and I stood at the foot of the casket for people to come by, and the funeral director came and got me, like by the shoulders, and moved me down to the head of the casket. And he said, "And then, you don't shake hands with people when they come by". He said, "Put your hands behind your back, because you're not," he said, "It's etiquette not to shake people's hands at the head of the casket, because you're not the person that's being honored that day. The person that passed away is being honored".
And I can remember people just put their hands out like this and I just. Because I was just trying to do everything right. And now, if someone puts their hands out, I put my hand out, because they walk away like, "Did you see that, he didn't shake my hand. Germophobic or something". So, I don't know. So, then when we got ready to go to the cemetery, the funeral director said, "You ride with me". So, I get in the hearse with the funeral director and the corpse. And so, it's the funeral director... And I'm not trying to be rude here. I'm just saying, it was the funeral director, me, and the person that's not there anymore, a dead body. Okay? And God starts giving me this revelation. And so, I get so excited. And so, when we get over there, I'm ready to go. And he says, "You wait till I give you the nod before you start". So, I'm just waiting for the nod. "Give me the nod. I'm ready. Give me the nod". And I got more and more excited.
And then when he gave me the nod, remember now, I hadn't been saved very long. Here's the way I started. I didn't share this revelation the best the first time. Okay? This is the way I started. I said, "God was talking to me in the hearse on the way over here". And then I said, "You can't kill me either, 'cause I'm already dead". Well, it wasn't going real well, but I finally got the point across. I told them, I said, "God showed me, that a year ago in a motel room, I died, and now Christ lives through me". And I gave an invitation right at the thing, and I asked people to raise their hands and accept Christ. The only thing I didn't do was pass the plate. I mean, I had it down. But this is what I'm trying to tell you. If you fear death, just get it over with today. Just go ahead and die to self today. Isn't that good news? Just go ahead and die.
Do you realize if you're a Christian, according to the Bible, you will never see, taste, or experience death. And I can give you all three of those scriptures. But the believer will not see death, will not taste death, or experience death. You know what you will experience? Relocation, that's it. Relocation. And so, I've had people ask me sometimes, people say, "Well, so Pastor Robert, I mean one day physically, you know, physically you're going to die. What's going to happen? I mean, what, explain it to me. What will happen"? Okay, I'm going to explain it to you very simply, okay? The name of the series is Simplify. Here's what's going to happen. Jesus is going to come to me one day and say, "We've been living in your house for a long time now. Let's you and I leave, and go live in My house". And when He says that, we're going to leave.
And this body that you see is going to just fall on the floor, and you all are going to gather around and say, "Oh look, Pastor Robert died," but you're too late. I died 42 years ago in a motel room called Jake's Motel, Room 12. I died, and Jesus lives in me. Do you know why you don't have to fear death? Because Jesus has already conquered death, hell, sin, and the grave. He's already conquered them. See, Satan doesn't have any new tricks. He deceived Eve with something she already had. And he tells you, "If you'll do this, you'll be accepted". You're already accepted. "You'll have success". He always leads you to triumph. "You'll enjoy life more". And Jesus said, "He who lives and believes in Me will never die, because I give to him eternal life".
I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes. And I want you to just ask the Holy Spirit, "Holy Spirit, what are You saying to me"? Now I want to say one thing as I minister here for a just a moment. You might say, "Pastor Robert, I still have a difficulty fearing rejection, or fearing failure, or even fearing death. I still have that difficulty". Well, let me just remind you what Paul said, that he not only said, "I'm crucified with Christ," he also said in another place, "I die daily". So, understanding these truths from Scripture are a process. So, if you still have difficulties, and we all do. We all do, okay, with the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, and the fear of death, then just, when you get up tomorrow morning, just die again. Say, "Lord, I want to lay my life on the cross again today, and I want You to live through me".
Lord, I want to tell You how grateful we are. And Lord, I want to pray for the congregation of Gateway Church, and everyone watching. I pray, Holy Spirit, that we will be able to simplify these busy, complicated lives that we have, and we will be able to do it, by staying simply devoted to You. In Jesus' name, amen.