Wednesday, July 24, 2013
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I wonder what the question most asked by Christian teenagers is? I don't have any formal research to report to you today, but I have been listening to teenagers for a lot of years, and a lot has changed over those years. But I'm not sure the big question they have has. It was and continues to be, I think the most asked. It's not, "How do I have better devotions?" Or, "How can I serve the Lord?" It's, "How far can I go?" Wish I'd have a dollar for every time I've been asked that question. And they're not talking about driving privileges when they ask that question. How far can I go? Actually, long after our dating years are over, you know, that still seems to be the question we're dealing with. That's too bad.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The 'How Far Can I Go' Fever."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Ephesians chapter 4. I'm going to begin reading at verse 22, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your mind; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
The Apostle Paul here is saying on behalf of our Lord, "Get as far away as you can from your old self. You're done with that. Don't flirt with that. Don't hang on to that. Take it off like old, dirty clothes that don't fit you any more." And then he goes on later in this chapter to define what some of those old self things are, like being deceitful, destroying people with your anger, cheating, stealing, bitterness, dirty talk, dirty jokes, and sexual sins. He says, "Be new! Be like God in your holiness."
Well, that doesn't leave much room for flirting with sin does it? It means being fixated on living up to God's purity. Now, unfortunately, we seem to be missing God's best because of what I call that "how far can I go fever". We keep asking how far can I go to the edge of sin without falling over. How far can I push the truth without actually lying? How far can we push our definition of divorce to let me or someone else close to me out of an unhappy marriage? How far can I go in flirting with someone without being unfaithful to my mate? How far can I go sexually without being immoral?
There are so many areas where we're like those hormone-dominated teenagers. We want to get away with everything we can on the edges of sin. That's just the wrong question, "How far can I go?" When you play on the edges of sin, you fall over and we're missing the whole new self that's the reason God redeemed us and Christ died for us.
It's not "How far can I go toward the edge, how close can I get to the edge?" It's more like, "How far inside God's boundaries can I live?" The question ought to be, "How far can I go toward being like Jesus? How far can I go toward real holiness? Purge the compromises, Lord. Purge all these flirtations I've allowed with sin. Take away this desire to get away with as much earth stuff as I can." We've pushed the boundaries, but God has not moved them and He never will.
You know you're growing up in Christ when you want to do anything to have His blessing and to be like Him. Then the question is no longer, "How far can I go?" But it's, "How pure can I be?"