We are tempted to sin daily, and giving into that sin without repentance keeps us from the abundant life God has promised us (John 10:10). John Elmore walks through 1 Corinthians 10:1-33 to discuss how to live in repentance, allegiance, and deference for the glory of God and for our own good.
Standing Firm In A Fallen World | 1 Corinthians 16
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts | 1 Corinthians 14
A Church Marked by Love | 1 Corinthians 13
How To Build A Church | 1 Corinthians 12
God's Design for Men and Women | 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Repentance, Allegiance & Deference for the Glory of God | 1 Corinthians 10
Giving, Sharing, and Living for the Gospel | 1 Corinthians 9
Christians and Controversial Topics | 1 Corinthians 8
Being Single | 1 Corinthians 7:7-40
Fighting For Your Marriage | 1 Corinthians 7:1-16
Sex and Glorifying God | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Conflict: An Inevitable Opportunity | 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Church Discipline: Sin, Grace, and Shepherding | 1 Corinthians 5
The Resurrection Is the Remedy to Our Hypocrisy | 1 Corinthians 15
The Purpose, Plot Twists, and Power of Christ | 1 Corinthians 4
Being a Healthy Church | 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
The Miracle of Spiritual Maturity | 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
The Miracle of Salvation | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Priority, Preference, and Power | 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Called, Gifted, and Kept by Jesus | 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
God has called us to live for His glory and others’ good, not for ourselves. This is the way we live the abundant life He has promised us. To do this, we must live in repentance, allegiance, and deference, as laid out in 1 Corinthians 10.
John Elmore: Good morning, Watermark. So, on Friday, I jumped online and checked Planned Parenthood's site. They have an abortion locator where you can search by state. I went to Texas on the drop-down menu, and across my screen came a banner that said, "All abortions in Texas are banned." It was a result of the ruling the Supreme Court justices gave on Friday that will go into effect 30 days from the issuing of their judgment. We have a trigger law in place here in Texas, and pre-Roe laws from 50 years ago came back into place as power was given back to the states.
So, we rejoice and celebrate in that, that our state has chosen life, along with others, yet this is not a political statement. I don't want you to hear me saying this is anything political, but rather it's theological, because in doing so, the justices have said this is not a constitutional right that everyone has the right to an abortion, but rather, returning that to the states, saying, "This is not constitutional."
They're aligning with the Lord in saying that every single person is fearfully and wonderfully made, woven together, knit together in their mother's womb prior to birth, and every day ordained before yet one of them came to be. So, it's a day of rejoicing and celebration as that mountain of sin has been cast into the sea, yet the work isn't done. It has simply changed.
We know women will still have the opportunity to have a chemical abortion, which will be a horrific and tragic event done in the privacy of their home that will be haunting to them and to the men who may have been a part of that abortion. So, the work isn't done. It has just changed, as we now continue, as the church, to love and care for women who are scared and in that fragile state, to care for their children, and to instruct men, that they would not lead women into sin with their own sexual desires or pressuring into an abortion.
But today we rejoice in that. Just months ago, we gave an invitation to set your phone reminder to 1:39 p.m. and to pray that God would end abortion in our land and in our lifetime. I would ask you to keep that prayer reminder on, because now in our state you can vote, and your vote can be for life. It's not a foregone conclusion within our nation. We can pray for other states, and we can pray for mothers who are carrying children and are scared and considering their options. Now may the church, with open arms, give them options.
We pray also that we'd continue to pray for the authority that is above us, for the justices who made this decision who are probably fearing for their own lives, as people are approaching their private homes and hurling threats, but that we would also pray now. In Daniel, chapter 9, Daniel said when he considered his sin and the sins of his people, he prayed, and God brought an answer and swift response. So, let's take this time to now pray and give God praise where it is due.
Father, I can't help but think these 50 years… Biblically, there is a jubilee year, and it's coinciding, it seems. Lord, you say in Proverbs 21:15 that when justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but a terror to the evildoer. So, Lord, we confess the sins of ourselves, our people, and our nation that has occurred an abortion, 70 million, that at times we have been complicit, apathetic, silent, and unhelpful or casting judgment on those who have had an abortion rather than offering them the healing of Christ.
But, Lord, we praise you and thank you that the Romans 13 authority you have placed over this land has now given that decision back to the states and that we live in a state where there will no longer be abortion clinics where there is murder occurring on street corners. We thank you for that, Lord, yet we pray that you would continue to use us with scared mothers, to help with children, to lead men into godliness, that we would be a place where everyone can find healing and provision in Christ. Lord, thank you for what you have done last Friday and ongoing. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Y'all, that's national repentance. I want to talk to you also about personal repentance. If you've been around for any amount of time, you've probably heard me talk about my own struggle with alcoholism. For more than a decade, I was an alcoholic. I'm now 16-1/2 years sober because of Jesus. Recently, I was on vacation. I had decided I will never drink again in my life…not in moderation, not in any way. That led to such destruction in my life I'm never going to do it again.
Laura knows this. I've prayed it to the Lord that he would keep me sober ongoing. As I've talked with my kids about my past alcoholism, they've said, "Dad, please, please never drink again." So, it's with that that I'm on vacation, and I order a virgin piña colada. I'm like, "Hey, a piña colada with no alcohol." The guy hazes me for ordering that drink. He's like, "What kind of man are you?" I'm like, "Oh man. You just got an invitation for me to tell you about Jesus."
The bartender slings me this. He's like, "Oh, I thought that was for her. It's for you?" He starts to make a joke. I'm like, "Yeah, I'm a recovering alcoholic." All of a sudden, he's like, "Heh, heh. Oh." I'm like, "Jesus saved me." He's like, "That's cool, man," and we're talking. But the virgin piña colada shows up, and I take a drink, and instantly… I mean, it has been 16-1/2 years, but I taste the warmth of alcohol. I'm like, "Hey, this has alcohol." He's like, "No, it doesn't."
Someone I was with… I'm like, "Will you try this?" The person takes a drink. They're like, "No. It's good. It doesn't have alcohol." I'm like, "What?" I take another drink. I'm like, "No, it has alcohol." They're like, "No, it doesn't." There in that moment there was a war in my mind, because I had two people say, "That is no alcohol. It doesn't have any." I knew it did. I was like, "Oh. I can have a drink right now, because I have two people who say it doesn't. I can drink this. No one will ever know."
What would have happened in that moment is I would have allowed a small compromise. I mean, what is there in that? There's such a low percentage within a piña colada. It's not like I was having a bottle of scotch like I used to. But that small compromise, unchecked, leads to a large compromise. I believe that small decision, if I would have gone through with it, would have led to other compromise, which would have led to a heart hardening, which would have led me farther and farther down that path into additional sin.
I share that because I don't think I'm the only one wrestling with compromise in the moment. I don't think it was just on vacation recently that I was met with a decision "Will I compromise or not?" I think every single one of us, daily and hourly, has this fork in the road, like, "Will I follow what I want or will I follow the Lord?" We have this often-met wrestling and war in our minds and in our hearts. "Are you going to compromise or are you going to follow Christ?" So, today, we're going to walk through just that in 1 Corinthians 10.
This is what I think the problem is. I think greatly in part we have trusted in Jesus for our salvation, and then we live these varying degrees of compromise, and as a result, we live defeated, weakened lives of spiritual existence where we're just kind of eking our way toward eternity, like, "One day I'll experience Christ, but this side of eternity, man, I guess this is as good as it gets. I'm always going to struggle, and I'm always going to feel insecure. I'm always going to give myself to that guy" or "I'm always going to overindulge," or whatever it is.
Yet you read in the Word… Jesus says in John, "I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full." The full, abundant life. It's like, "Well, this ain't it." First Corinthians 10 is going to give us the answer to the full, abundant life and the way it will impact how we can experience that full, abundant life and not this compromised, complicit life of complacency spiritually.
He will say, "Hey, as you walk in repentance…" Here's your outline. As you walk in repentance and allegiance to God, that will lead to a life of deference, living for others and for God's glory. Repentance, allegiance, and deference. As you live that way, you will experience the full, abundant life as you walk out Christ's faithfulness instead of compromise.
"…and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ." He lays out this incredible litany of crazy miracles, but the next word says, "Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did."
Now it's going to go into instruction toward us. "Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.' We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer."
Here it is again: "Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come." I'll say it this way: past grace does not exempt you from present consequences. A past spiritual experience doesn't somehow cancel out or exempt you from present consequences of sin. It didn't for the Israelites. The Israelites experienced some of the most amazing miracles that happened in the entirety of Scripture.
As it says, they were brought out from Egypt. The Red Sea parted. With walls of water, they walked through, and God crushed the Egyptians, superpower army that it was, and all of their chariots. Then when they didn't have any food, it rained manna. When they didn't have any water, it burst forth from the rock. There was a pillar and cloud that followed them and led them by day and night. They had so many miracles, yet (nevertheless) they fell. Past spiritual experience does not exempt you from present consequences.
I think here in the church we can do the exact same thing. We're like, "Well, I trusted Christ when I was 8 at summer camp or I walked forward, and then I was baptized. I made a public proclamation that I'm following Jesus, dead to sin, alive to Christ. I've been in a Bible study for a while. I'm a part of a small group." So, we'll rest on those spiritual experiences and think, "Therefore… I struggle with porn. My girlfriend and I are going to get married someday. We can't keep our hands off each other, but it's okay, because one day we're going to get married."
"I know greed and materialism… That's a thing, but really, what I'm after is different. I just want security and provision for my family. That's what it is. I grew up poor. If you knew where I came from, then you would understand why. I just enjoy nice things." Or "The control I have… I mean, chaos isn't a good option either, so somebody has to be the one to do all this." We will, because of previous or past spiritual experiences, think we're somehow exempt or excused from present consequences of sin, which is what the Israelites did, and that it would keep us from sin somehow.
You know, someone who has had a wedding day and wears a wedding ring and even has a picture of their spouse in their office… That doesn't keep them from committing adultery. We've all heard stories where it's like, "How did that happen?" Because those past things can't protect you in the present. It's only a daily abiding, loving relationship with the Lord and with your spouse that will keep you from something like that. We can't rely on the past, but God will give grace in the present.
Recently, I was having a meeting with two young adult women here at the church right out there in the coffee shop, and they said something to me that truly cut me in a loving way, like a wound from a friend, and I will never forget it for the rest of my life. So, I used to cuss. You're like, "Well, yeah. You were a drunk. Of course you used to cuss."
I used to cuss as a pastor, because I thought it was shock value and humorous, like, "Well, this is probably unexpected. I'm going to do it for emphasis." I would never cuss in anger. Like, "I'm not going to cuss at you or my kids, but I'll say something for shock value, because it'll really punctuate it. They know my heart. They know my past spiritual experience. They know my role. They know where I'm coming from."
Then someone confronted me, a re:gen leader named Chris. He said, "Hey, how do you reconcile 'Let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth,' and yet you're saying what you are?" In my heart and mind I was like, "You goody two-shoes, holier than thou. What about you, man? Where do you need to…?" As I thought more, I was like, "He's so right. He's right." So I repented from it. I stopped. I'm like, "I'm done, God. He's right." I thank God for Chris and his friendship and kindness to me.
But as I was sitting with these two women, they said, "Hey, we want to tell you a story, because we think it's important that you know." I was like, "Okay." They said, "We were at an event once, and this person who's a Christian was cussing. We said, 'Hey, you shouldn't talk like that,' and the person said, 'Why not? John Elmore does.'" Y'all, the soberness of that. I had led someone else into sin.
They were like, "Well, look at his past spiritual experience, and he's not suffering any present consequence because of that, so I'm immune to it as well, so I'll do it also." I led that person into sin. I don't even know who they were. I've repented, and I ask that you would consider in your life what that small compromise is that has crept into your life that you need to repent from. Turning from sin by turning toward Christ.
It's a daily choice: repent or relapse…daily, even hourly. You're going to walk out these doors. You're going to be faced with a decision. "Do I repent by turning from sin and turning toward Christ or do I just give myself over to it and have a relapse?" Some of you are like, "Whoa. Relapse. That's a strong word. I mean, relapse is when you have a massive blowout. Like, you wake up in bed beside somebody who's not your spouse. You have a needle hanging out of your arm. You have a full-blown addiction. Maybe your eating disorder lands you in the hospital. That's relapse."
Well, let me tell you that 100 small relapses are what lead to the large relapse. No one wakes up and just says, "You know what? I'm going to go commit adultery today. You know what? I'm going to be an alcoholic today. You know what? I'm going to lose everything and gamble it away today." It's 100 unchecked small relapses that lead to that larger relapse.
At re:gen, I would confess. We'd stand. I was a part of that ministry for 10 years. You introduce yourself. You say, "Hi, my name is John Elmore. I have a new life in Christ." That's my identity. "I'm recovering from alcoholism, fear of man, and this past week…" Then you share something you are struggling with that you need prayer for and just confess so you can be healed as they pray.
Sometimes I would say, "And this past week, gluttony from eating too many Oreos." You could see the audience be like, "Are you serious? Get a real struggle. I walked through these doors because of porn or sex addiction or codependency that's leading me into bad relationships. Oreos? Give me a break, you pastor freak. That's a joke." But here is what I would say further: "When I eat Oreos…" And when I eat Oreos, y'all, I will eat the full sleeve.
I don't know what it is. It's like 18, and then I'll go to the next part of it, especially if I have a glass of milk. If I have a glass of whole milk, it's ball game over. I will binge on those things, because I'm like, "Well, if one is good, then 20 is great." And they're double stuffed, by the way. So, there I am pounding Oreos. Laura will walk by, and she's like, "How many is that?" I'm like, "Uh, Oreos or boxes?" I'm like, "What? You're not getting any."
The same idol that is behind Oreos, which is an idol of comfort, is the same idol that was behind that bottle of scotch. It's the exact same thing. I'm just looking for a creature comfort to give me a little bit of comfort in my body. That same idol of Oreos… What's behind that is comfort, just like it was for scotch. That unchecked with the Oreos or binging on cereal, or whatever it is… I've started giving myself over to that idol of comfort, so I have to repent.
In verse 11 it says, "Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come." We must repent by God's strength. You have no power over sin. Christ alone gives you power over sin as he justifies you, and then the Spirit, who indwells you, gives you power over sin. You have no power. It's only by God's power. Repent by God's strength or repeat your past.
The key verses for this are verses 6 and 11. It says in verse 6, "Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did." Then it concludes. It says, "…written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come." It's all for us. So often in the church we're like, "Well, let's flip over here to Matthew through Revelation, because we're now in the church age, so I'm going to follow the church's Scripture."
But right here in 1 Corinthians 10, the Lord says all of God's Word, the full counsel, every Scripture breathed out by God, is useful. So, we must read the Old Testament and heed the Old Testament, because these things were written down that we might not desire evil as they did. We have to repent by God's strength.
The first one that's mentioned there is idolatry, and then it says, "Flee from idolatry" at the end. Here's what was happening there when it says, "They ate and drank and rose up to play." Moses goes up the mountain to fast and pray and receive the commandments from the Lord, and Aaron is left in charge. Aaron gets all the gold, makes the golden calves, puts them on an altar, and says, "Behold, thy gods who have brought you out of Egypt!"
All of the people rose up to eat and drink, and they were worshiping in this idol festivity. Then Aaron says something really strange. He says, "And tomorrow…" They're like, "Another idol party?" He's like, "We will have a festival unto the Lord, unto Yahweh." It's like, "Wait. What?" "These are thy gods who brought you out of Egypt, and tomorrow we'll worship Yahweh." It's like, "Which is it?" It's both. It's syncretism, a blending of the holy and the profane.
That idolatry is not localized to Aaron and the idol party they had after they walked out of Egypt. It's something we are so capable of and culpable for, as we're like, "Jesus, I trust you for my eternal salvation, and that looks nice too. I'm just going to kind of wrestle with that for a while, because, man, I like it. But I love you. Tomorrow I'll worship you, but today I want this." We have syncretism. We have to repent by God's strength.
I have wrongly said in the past that this is not a book of rules; it's a book about a relationship. Let me say from the stage, correctively, that's wrong. It is both. It's a book about a relationship with rules. Both can be true. It doesn't have to be one or the other. It is a book about a relationship, God with man through his Son Jesus Christ, but there are rules. There are ways that lead to life and peace, as he has given us instruction, it says in 1 Corinthians 10.
Why? Not to be a cosmic hall monitor, but that it would lead to life and peace, that we wouldn't set our hearts and minds on evil, as they did, and thus experience the consequences of sin. In our family (which is a relationship), if we did not have rules, I truly think two of the kids might sell the third for Pokémon cards and Cheetos. We have rules so there's not anarchy. It is foremost a relationship, but there are rules, and those rules are for the good of the family.
Now, it's not if you're struggling; it's what you're struggling with. So, blanket invitation. If you're struggling, invitation to re:generation. I'm going to say that again. If you're breathing, invitation to re:generation, because everyone who is breathing is struggling. It's our life this side of eternity. Re:generation is a place where you can come on Monday nights to find healing and freedom from whatever it is you're wrestling with.
It's not that the people at re:generation on Monday are kind of like spiritual derelicts who just can't figure it out. In fact, it's quite the opposite. They're the ones who actually have a right assessment of self, like, "Man, I have stuff I need to turn from." That's the reality for everyone. We all need to daily repent by God's strength.
Verse 12: "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." Meaning, don't be self-confident; be God-confident. "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man." Meaning, your experience with sin and temptation is not the excusable exception. Like, "Well, I wish I had your struggle, but I have mine, so I'm just going to deal with it." He says no temptation exceeds you except what is common to man.
"God is faithful…" You're not. God is faithful. He's the Deliverer. "…and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." Common sin. He says there's nothing that's uncommon. There is common sin. It demands special grace. Meaning, you need grace from God, who is faithful to deliver you from your sin. You can't repent by your own strength.
There's this throwback. In this passage, he's like, "Hey, you remember the Israelites who were stuck in Egypt. He loosed their bonds and brought them through the Red Sea and crushed their enemy. You remember when they were starving, he rained down manna. When they were dying of thirst, he gave water from the rock on multiple occasions. He is the Deliverer. Whenever they were stuck, God made a breakthrough, and he's faithful. Meaning, he will do it for you, no matter what your circumstance. So, flee from it. Run to him, and he will deliver you" is the refrain here in the passage.
Laura and I were in an escape room once. You know the escape rooms you have? You go in, and you have to find your way out. We were in this multilevel escape room, which was just winding through like a maze. There were other people in there. They seemed to be incredibly confused too. After probably an hour and a half, we were like, "All right. I'm hungry. This is ridiculous." So we walked over and found an IKEA employee and were like, "Hey, how do you get out?" Dude, bona fide. It's a free escape room.
He's like, "Well, after you walk past all of the impulse buys we have labored to put you through, and the spatulas, and the dish towels…" We found our exit, but we found the exit by asking the person who knew the place. God is the one who has created everything. He knows. He knows the evil pitted against us. He's your Creator. He's the faithful one, and he will give you the way of escape. The question isn't if you're facing temptation; the question is…Are you asking God for help? If you're not, do so today.
The question is not if you're facing temptation; it's if you're being honest with yourself about the temptation you're facing. So often, we focus on the testing, like, what we're going through, and God is like, "No. Don't focus on the testing. Focus on my faithful testimony. I'm going to lead you out. It's what I live to do." He has given us the Holy Spirit who is the sin-killer, the Advocate, the Counselor, the Helper. He is the one to lead us out into freedom as we repent for our good and for the glory of God.
"I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?"
We repent from sin by remaining with Christ. There was the first point. Now we remain with Christ by communing with Christ in allegiance with Christ. Throughout that passage, and in following, four times Paul uses the word, by the Spirit, participant. Participate. You're participating with Christ. Now, Christ had been crucified, his blood shed, and his body broken for the forgiveness of sins.
So, shouldn't that be in past tense? Yet the verb is in present tense, which shows a glimpse of the spiritual reality that when we partake of Communion, as we just did, there is a present-tense spiritual reality that is happening to you individually and corporately as we partake of the Lord's Supper and Communion in church. It's altogether different than breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no matter who you eat it with.
Rather, when the church is gathered and Communion is administered… As other meals will give you physical strength, here, as you partake of Communion, you are given spiritual strength. We will never fully comprehend this side of eternity, but it says we are participants with Christ, experiencing the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the body broken, and the oneness of the church as we do this. There is spiritual strength because it is a spiritual meal, a connection to Christ with the body of Christ.
This is why we participated in Communion today and do so with regularity. For it says in Acts 17, "In him we live and move and have our being." This is not a "once for all" past thing but an ongoing thing as we continue to walk with Christ in allegiance. In verse 19 it says, "What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons…" Terrifying verse. "…and not to God. I do not want you…" Here's the word, present tense. "…to be participants with demons."
You see, there is Christ's Communion in the Lord's Supper, and then here there is demonic communion that happens through idolatry, which is worshiping anything or any person or any place other than God. In Deuteronomy 32, it says they rose up and offered sacrifices to demons who were not gods. What this was for the Corinthian church prior to Christ… There were pagan temples there where they would go.
Animals would be offered in sacrifice to these idols, which were wood, metal, or stone. They were inanimate objects. You could topple them. They couldn't speak. They couldn't act. They were idols. There was nothing to them, but there, after the sacrifice, they would dine or have sex with the cult prostitutes. There was a participation with demons, Paul says. Not that an idol is anything, but he says what is behind the idol are demons.
That's what was true then. What has always been true is that Satan and demons long for worship. They want what is rightly due to God alone…worship by the created, the people God made. The worship that's rightly due only to God… They're not satisfied with that, and they want the worship for themselves. You see it throughout the Scriptures.
In Isaiah 14, we see the five "I will" statements. Satan says, "I will ascend like the Most High. I will make my throne." He's saying, "No, God. I'm not worshiping you. I want to be worshiped like you. I will turn your creation against you. They will worship me." In Ezekiel 28, it says, "On account of the beauty you had, pride was found in you, and thus you fell." He was longing to be worshiped because of who he was, the beauty that he was, so he fell in his pride.
Then, in the most revealing of them all, in Matthew 4, as Jesus is being tempted in the desert by Satan in the flesh, Satan says on the third temptation… He shows him all of the kingdoms of the earth and says, "Behold, I will give you all of these. Just fall down and worship me." In that moment, Satan shows his cards and reveals what it is he wants.
"I want worship, and if I can't get it from you, Jesus, then I'll get it from your people. They would never be so crazy as to worship the most hideous, wicked, incarnate evil entity that has ever existed, so I will put myself behind an idol. I will masquerade, that as they worship the idol, they worship me."
In case you're like, "Man, I never go and worship at pagan temples. I don't make a practice of that. I've never even been to one. I never would," the church is in danger of worshiping idols just as first-century Corinth. John Calvin wrote in the Institutes, "The human heart [spirit] is an idol factory." Meaning, we are given to perpetual worship, and thus, if we are not worshiping God, we are going to be worshiping someone or something else.
Calvin is like, "We will make things to worship rather than worship God, rather than repent." We're just given toward this fractured, splintered, syncretistic allegiance. Then Timothy Keller rightly says in the book Counterfeit Gods you will know an idol by its ability to break your heart. That's how you can know an idol in your life: by its ability to break your heart.
When my phone goes on the glitch, and I can't figure something out…I can't get it to open up, because I need my email or whatever…I will lose it. Or in boredom, rather than going to prayer, I'll just scroll. It's an idol in my life, and I think what is behind that is a demon trying to draw me away from rightful worship to the Lord to distract me, and it's receiving worship. What is it for you…money, sex, control, power, acceptance, career? We all have them, this broken allegiance. We will give ourselves and give worship to another.
Verse 21 says, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?" Compromised allegiance. Jesus is both Christ and Lord. It has been said he's either Lord of all or not at all, yet we splinter and fracture and compartmentalize our lives, like, "You can have this part, but that part is mine." We have idol worship that creeps in.
In Revelation 3:15-17, he says, "I know your works…" He's writing to a church. "…you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked."
Communion with Christ means no compromise because of the covenant we are in. When I said "Yes" to Laura Elizabeth Strickland and we made a covenant in the Lord, I was saying "No" to every other woman on this earth because of a covenant. In the same way, as we say "Yes" to Christ in allegiance to him alone, we're saying "No" to every other dangling offer of sin, every other idol that would come in and offer us compromise.
That he would leave, the eternally begotten Son of God, and take on flesh to come on a rescue mission for sinners. I mean, talk about the epitome of deference; that he would go on the behalf and need of another, modeling for us a suffering servant, and then rise from the dead, conquering sin, death, and Satan. Now deference for the good of another and the glory of God.
I'm going to read the key verses here, 23 and 24, and then we'll jump to the end. "All things are lawful…" He's quoting back to the Corinthians what they've said to him. Like, "Hey, Paul, all things are lawful. Right?" He says, "'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but [rather] the good of his neighbor."
He's like, "Your aim is not for yourself. You're not out for your own good; you're out for your neighbor's good now. You're to live a life of deference for their good and the glory of God." So, lawful is not the litmus test. It's not if you could do something or not; it's if you should do something or not, and by doing so, is it helpful and does it build up your neighbor? Not if you can.
Blake Holmes has said, wisely, just because you could do something does not mean you should do something. Or said otherwise… Jermaine did an incredible job with his treatment on 1 Corinthians 8 on this principle we're wrestling with right now: in the deference to another, putting aside your rights for the good of another.
It can be said this way: love limits liberty. Although I have the liberty to do something, maybe at a wedding reception, maybe when I'm traveling, whatever it may be… It might be lawful for you, but you're considering in deference to others, "Is it helpful, and does it build up?" Love limits liberty. When you're deciding this, oftentimes, the hard thing is the right thing.
That can be a helpful tool, because often, as you're wrestling with these decisions, like, "Yeah, but I can. I know they have a struggle with this or they're a weaker brother or they might not really understand, but I can. I have that freedom. Oh man. It would be hard to say no…" The reason the hard thing is often the right thing is because what's making it hard is death to self. Your self is having to be in self-denial for the good of others. That's why it's hard.
It's easy to just do what you want to do, but when you start to consider others, that's when it becomes hard, and that may help you find the right. The second key verse is 10:31, where it says, "So [with all of that in mind], whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Which is the Westminster Catechism where it says the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Society, and even cultural Christianity, has flipped this, and we say, "No. Man's chief end is to glorify self and enjoy life forever." We're not out for the glory of God and for the good of our neighbor. But we have to live for God's glory. It's our reason for existence. In Psalm 115:1, the psalmist says, "Not to us, but to you be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."
In Isaiah 43:7, it says, "Everyone who is called by my name…" Church, if you are in Christ, you are called by his name. "Everyone who I have called by my name, who I created for my glory…" Your sole reason for existence is to glorify God. Whether you eat or drink or raise children or date or work or practice law or teach students or administer medicine or walk in a coffee shop or as you drive or whatever you look at on your media device, that all of it would be unto the glory of God, one singular reason for our existence.
Here's the thing. You will either live to tell of your good works, your résumé, your boasting, or to boast of the Lord's good works. You will either live to make a name for yourself and your followers and your tribe or you will live to exalt the name of Christ. You will either live to build a house of cards kingdom for yourself or you will live for the kingdom of God. You will either live for this fleeting, vaporous, shadow, mist of a life that is passing or you will live for the eternal reality that is found in Christ alone. It's one or the other, but it will be found through deference, as you live with others in mind and in deference to the will of God for his glory.
My first year of seminary… I moved to Dallas. I was living downtown by a Watermark guy who was letting me live in his loft for free. I'm there at that loft going to DTS, which are both there downtown, and I can't help but see the homeless problem. So, I'm interacting with them regularly, starting to know them by name. I start volunteering with a homeless ministry every Friday night. I'm in class one day, and the professor asks this guy on DTS staff…he has a good job with DTS…to come to the front and invites him to share what he's doing with the students.
So, this man proceeds to talk about what he's doing with the homeless here in Dallas. He wasn't just out to throw meals at people and give them a passing prayer, but he wanted to have an embedded, lifelong relationship with the homeless to create discipleship, love, and community. So, I go up afterward. I'm like, "Dude, I've got to talk to you. I think what you're doing… I want to know more about it." He's like, "Well, come to my office." So, I go to his office there in the basement of one of the buildings on the DTS campus.
I'm like, "So, what's the deal?" He's like, "Well, actually, I'm not going to be here long. You see, I'm looking at this warehouse I'm going to buy. I'm raising money, and we're going to buy a warehouse, and we're going to get socks and coats and all of the things the homeless need, and we're going to use those to leverage into a relationship with them. Not just like handouts. We're going to have a database with their names and contact info, and we're going to stay connected and make sure we are a part of their lives for the gospel and the kingdom."
I'm looking at this guy. I'm like, "Dude, you have a good job. You're further in the kingdom." He was tasked with starting the online education program globally for DTS. I'm like, "Why are you going to leave that?" He was going to leave it for deference, for the love and good of others and the glory of God. So, my third illustration is a person, and it's a person I want you to meet, because the person I met in 2008 is now a member of Watermark Community Church, he and his wife Carolyn.
In 2008, he began a ministry called OurCalling, which is the preeminent homeless ministry in the entire United States, maybe in the world. Other ministries, even secular organizations, model themselves off of how this man does this. He is the founder and CEO and is living a life of deference. So, as part of the conclusion of Love Our City, I am now thrilled to introduce to you my friend, our brother in Christ, Wayne Walker. Please welcome him to the stage.
Wayne Walker: You know, the primary predictor of homelessness is not what you think. The primary predictor of homelessness is not addiction. It's not mental health. The primary predictor of homelessness is broken community, because that's someone's child. That's someone's parent. That guy on the corner is probably someone's grandfather or someone's grandmother.
So, the primary predictor to homelessness is broken community. That's what we're here to restore. Our staff focuses on two questions every day. The first is "Will you trust the Lord?" The second is "Will you let me help you off the streets?" This year, so far, as of today, we've gotten 822 people off the streets this year. That's a God thing.
Let me tell you one of the stories. We have an app, and people use our app all over the country. You use it if you're looking for the closest shelter. A single mom uses it at night to find the closest domestic violence center. In Dallas, you can also use this app to report someone who's experiencing homelessness.
I have a picture here of a guy who was homeless. Someone pulled out our app. That's the map. It's right next to Love Field. Someone took a picture and sent it to us. That's what you do, and our team goes out. That's what we do. When you volunteer, that's what you do with us. We go out, and we find people. We get to know them, and we ask them the really hard questions.
I mean, yeah, you look at a guy, and you're like, "Man, that guy needs a shower, and he needs a shave, and maybe he needs a shelter. Maybe we can help him get housing. Maybe he needs a job. Maybe we can invite him over here to Watermark to go to service." But maybe, if we do the hard work and we get to know him, we recognize he needs something very different.
The one thing that was broken in his life is the same thing that's broken in ours because of our broken relationship with the Lord because of sin. We have an opportunity to help restore community. So, we literally searched the whole country over to find the one thing he needed most, and we found it in Atlanta. We flew her back so he could meet his mom again. That's what he needed more than anything.
He hadn't seen her in years. He was so lost emotionally and mentally he didn't recognize her at first. Let me tell you. That's not some drunk homeless guy who was down the street. That was an SMU student in Dallas, and that's a mom you might go to brunch with. The opportunity we had to be the hands and feet of Christ, to see someone…
Let me show you. This is what restored community looks like. That's the same guy. Now, you clap because that's what God does. He restores broken people. That picture… Those weren't a year apart. That's not a month apart. That's one day. He is now back home in Atlanta, living with his family, getting the psychotherapeutic and support he needs, because community can be restored.
I want to encourage you, as we at Watermark are trying to love our city, that community is our middle name: Watermark Community Church. We want to invite you to participate and be a part of what God is doing. Watermark Health is right outside. They set up their mobile clinic, and they serve at our facility as well. They're not there just to do medical stuff. They're there for people to come to know the King, to come to know what Christ can do in their life. So, we just want to ask you to join us, to be a part of this wonderful ministry as we love our city together. Thanks.
John: Father, I thank you and praise you that you called Wayne Walker out of that office at DTS to appoint him to care for and shepherd and love the lost of the homeless of Dallas and beyond back into your loving arms and into community that they would be healed. Lord, you have told us in your Word to care for the poor among us, and the homeless are such an expression of that, and that we would do it with love, truth, and action. Bless Wayne, OurCalling, their mission, and may many, many be saved in this life and forever in the next because of their work and labor in the Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
Y'all, for the last four weeks, we have been talking about Love Our City, which is a life of deference, living for the good of another unto the glory of God. I want to tell you that Love Our City is not a summer thing; it is a Christian thing. It is to mark the rest of our lives. This is where the Lord has us, and he has us here to love those around us.
Jesus, when asked, "What is the greatest command?" said, "The first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and the second is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself." Love Our City is not a summer thing; it is a Christian thing until we are at home with the Lord.
So, we have repentance, which means turning from sin by turning toward Christ; allegiance, just aligning ourselves with him every day; and what will result then as the fruit is a life of deference for the good of others and the glory of God. I started by telling you that I quit drinking 16-1/2 years ago, but the truth of the matter is I didn't quit drinking. I just changed what I was drinking.
I was under the influence of alcohol; now I'm under the influence of the Spirit. I was drinking scotch; now I'm drinking and partaking of the blood of Christ through Communion with the church. My life has changed as a result, because of repentance, allegiance, and deference, and yours can too. I don't know what your drink is right now, but just know that today can be the day that all that changes, for your good and for the glory of God, because he who has promised is faithful, and every promise finds its "yes" in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let me pray.
Father, we thank you and praise you for the new life we can have in Jesus Christ and that it's not just when you saved us, but that you continue to sanctify us and deliver us. Lord, may our lives be marked by daily repentance, solidarity of allegiance, and a life that would be shocking to the world, as we live in deference to others and give you all the glory. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, amen.