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Jamie Johnson
20 June 2022

Higher Calling

NOTE: This is a written, expanded version of a message I delivered on June 14, 2022.

There are three enemies to the Christian: the world, the flesh and the devil as implied by Ephesians 2:2-3, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 John 2:15-17 and elsewhere in Scripture. And the culture is part of the world system that entices the flesh and is under the inflluence of the devil. And we all succumb to it at times. On this side of Heaven, sin is a reality with which we all struggle. 1 John 1:8 (NIV) says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." This does not give us a license to sin (see Romans 6:1-2) but acknowledges the reality of our struggle this side of Heaven. And while the Christian struggles with sin as everyone does, the Christian should not have a lifestyle of sin.

In contrast, our culture revels in sin and even celebrates godlessness. It has redefined tolerance as acceptance and acceptance as celebration. And the culture has done this with all sorts of godlessness. In some cases, it is expected that one not only accepts godlessness, but celebrates it, or even participates in it. The culture even uses its own definition of "love" to promote sinfulness, saying it is "unloving" to challenge the thinking behind it or speak truth (in true love) about it. However, 1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love has boundaries. However, the culture has a different defintion of "love" (as it does other things) even to the point where what the culture thinks is "love" is not true love at all, something I wrote about elsewhere. Further, Romans 12:9 (NIV) says, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." This does not mean hating people, but hating evil -- that which is promoted that is godless, the behavior, not the person. Remember the axiom to love the sinner and hate the sin.

Jesus loved sinners (He loves me), but did not promote, enable, elevate or celebrate sin. He had and has a higher calling. I think about Zacchaeus. Jesus met with Zacchaeus to dine with him, but He did not promote or celebrate Zacchaeus' extorting the poor. God does not promote evil. The account of Zacchaeus occurs in Luke 19:1-9 (NIV):

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.' So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, 'He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.'

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.'

Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.'

Jesus dined with Zacchaeus, and Zacchaeus repented. That is, Zacchaeus turned his back on his sinful lifestyle and embraced a new life in Christ. Jesus didn't enable, elevate, promote or celebrate the extortion Zacchaeus practiced. That life was over. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

And I think about the woman caught in sin in John 8:2-11 (NIV):

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, 'Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?'

'No one, sir,' she said.

'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'

Jesus met the woman where she was, but did not promote or celebrate her adultery. Rather, He had a higher calling -- repentance. That is, leaving a sinful lifestyle.

And the same is true of us. Jesus has a higher calling. In Him, you may have life and have it fully. In Him, your sin is exchanged for His righteousness because of His perfect work completed on the cross and settled with His resurrection. He will meet you where you are, but He has a higher calling than your status quo. He will meet you in your fallenness and brokenness, but won't celebrate or promote it. He calls you out of it and provides the Holy Spirit to work in you though life's journey. Will you believe on Him in faith and receive Him today?

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