It’s that time of the year that we all love here in Pennsylvania. Temperatures are rising, chances of snow are falling, and our most favorite part of all is that; our state flower is in full bloom. They start out so small and innocent that our children often play with them. Then, they begin to grow up into their elementary years, followed by their teen years. Before you know it, they are all grown up and fully bloom to become an annoyance to us all.
Although none of us like road construction, we all like cruising down a smooth, freshly paved and painted highway at full speed. It gives us a sense of freedom and adventure like anything is possible. We may not like construction, but we sure do love the benefits of when the job is complete!
This is much like our spiritual lives. We love to quote about the full and abundant life that Jesus promises us. We love the freedom that He grants us. We love the invincible feeling of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. We love cooperating with God as He blesses us and does the miraculous in and through our lives.
However, when God decides that it’s time to do some construction in our lives, we’re not so thrilled about cooperating with Him. We don’t want to slow down or even worse, stop altogether. We’d rather be over in that other lane that is flying right on by us.
This morning, we’re starting a new message series entitled, “Spiritual Roadblocks.” In it, we’re going to learn about some dangers that commonly exist in our lives that require God to do a little construction work in us. God needs to take care of them before these small roadblocks grow into destructive hazards.
I’m sure that we’ve all experienced that little bump in the road that we often travel become a pothole which became an axle-snapping, drive-shaft-busting crater. Had we simply sat through a few weeks of construction as that little bump was repaired, many people could have saved a whole lot of money, time, and headache in vehicle repairs.
When we sit stopped by that flagger, we know, or at least we hope, that this season of waiting for construction will ultimately end and lead to a much better road to travel for years to come.
Although it can be so tempting sometimes, we know that if we choose to ignore the signs and flagger and drive straight on through that it will cause us a great deal of pain and injury, and even possibly death.
In the same way, God takes us through seasons of construction not just to annoy or irritate us, but to make us better. God raised up the construction signs and cones not to be spiritual roadblocks to us, though it may feel that way. God put those construction signs and cones up to mark spiritual roadblocks that already exist on our lives. God wants to do some construction on those so that the road ahead can be a smooth-sailing highway and save us from the high cost that comes with ignoring his signs.
We just have to be patient and trust the process that God is taking us through. We have to firmly believe and be fully convinced that this season of construction is ultimately for my own good. It may be painful, it may be irritating, it may feel like we’re standing still while everyone else passes us by, but it is for our good. God is simply doing a work of construction in our lives so that we will be able to run faster and further than we ever could have without that work.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Jesus is not only the author, the pioneer of our faith, but He is also the perfecter and finisher of it! He puts up construction signs in our lives not to hinder us, but to help us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us all.
Throughout this series, we’ll learn about various spiritual roadblocks that hinder and entangle us as well as how to overcome them.
One of the most common spiritual roadblocks that we deal with that the Bible often warns us about is that of the world. Right, I thought that we’d start with the small and easy ones, right? 🙂 Though this is the most common spiritual roadblock that we are warned about, it is probably the one that is the most confusing to us.
I’m sure that we’ve all encountered road construction situations that confused us. Perhaps it was due to strange road patterns and a lack of good signage and blockage that left us wondering whether we were driving in the right lane or heading straight for oncoming traffic or straight towards a huge ditch. The entire way time that you are driving through that construction zone weaving from lane to lane, you have a sense of fear and uncertainty. You are pretty sure that you are doing what is expected of you, but can’t shake the feeling that you missed a turn and are heading for disaster. To make things worse, you are in the front and there are several cars behind you following your lead.
God doesn’t ever want us feeling that way in our faith. He wants us to be sure and certain, especially during the times in our life that He decides to do some construction in our lives.
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
Now to help clarify this issue dealing with the spiritual roadblock of the world, it helps to understand how this was originally written. After all, why would God consider the world to be a spiritual roadblock to us when He, Himself made it and even called it good back in Genesis? Did God change His mind somewhere along the way? Is God a sneaky trickster trying to set us up for failure? Why would He place us surrounded by something and then tell us that it is bad and to avoid it?
In fact, the same word for the world is used in John 3:16. I’m sure we all have that verse memorized and know full well that it was because God so loved the world that He gave His Son. Is God now contradicting Himself?
God created the world good. I don’t know about you all, but I’m of the opinion that He did a pretty incredible job with it, too. I love being out in His creation and adore the work of His hands. It all leaves me amazed and in worship of Him from the tiniest little microscopic lifeform to the mountains that tower on for miles straight into the sky to the swirling galaxies to black holes. It’s breathtaking to consider that this all exists from the mere words of His mouth!
To start, the original word used for the world is the Greek word kosmos, which we all probably have a good understanding of. It is literally the universe and everything within it. It is the physical and material existence all around us and everything to do with them. This includes not only the physical galaxies, stars, and planets. It also includes governments, possessions, people, and everything else contained within them.
Well, that really didn’t clear up anything now, did it?
The part that clarifies what John was so poetically referencing and Jesus so sternly and clearly warned against comes down to the word love. Although our single, English word love can have many different meanings, the Greek language used different words entirely for these different types of love. The Greek word used here is Agape and it is the type of sacrificial love that God has for us and we are to have for one another.
The idea and concept behind the world being a spiritual roadblock to us isn’t the world itself, but a warning against our willingness to sacrifice ourselves to gain the things of this world. After all, we all know that the things of this world are going to perish and be destroyed by fire. Only on Facebook do you ever see a hearse followed by a U-Haul because we’re all fully aware of this reality. You can’t take the things of this world with you when you leave it. Jesus gave us this warning:
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Why would the world hate us? Well, we don’t have some foundational things in common. When we put our faith in Jesus, our hearts long for Heaven. Before this choice, our hearts lust for the things of this world. More money, better relationships, a better body, more possessions, more authority over others, a bigger house, etc. We would sacrifice ourselves and more all to gain more of this world. We agape’d this world.
Now, those things seem so insignificant and meaningless. Now, we agape Jesus and are willing to sacrifice any worldly thing if it means bringing others to know and love Jesus as well. Our hearts long for the Presence of God and not for the things of this world. Our hearts break for the world around us and our desire is to lead them to Jesus, the one who is all that they need. Those who still love the world can’t understand you and probably get irritated by you.
John defined this love for the world for us in 1 John 2 – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The word lust defined in the Greek is a craving, desire, longing, and very strong desire. This one is straight forward and we all understand it well. We’ve all lusted after the things of this world from time to time. We’ll struggle to overcome it so long as we choose to live comparing ourselves to others and wanting what they have.
The word pride defined in the Greek is not what comes to mind for us initially. We initially think that pride is an arrogant attitude that causes someone to look down on others or think that they are better than others. Pride defined by the Greek word used in this verse is the empty presumption which trusts in the stability of earthly things or an empty assurance, which trusts in its own power and resources. This is the pride that looks to the world instead of God for solutions. This is the kind of pride that believes that together, with some hard work, we can solve any problem that we face all on our own. It doesn’t need the wisdom, strength, and resources from God.
The spiritual roadblock of the world is one of the lust of the flesh. This happens when we are lead and driven by our emotions and the feelings of our flesh and not by the Spirit of God and His truth.
The spiritual roadblock of the world is one of the lust of the eyes. This happens when we long jealously for the things around us. We want that new phone, that better car, that bigger house, that close of a relationship, that opportunity for advancement, instead of longing for Jesus and all that His Kingdom offers.
The spiritual roadblock of the world is one of the pride of life. This happens when we trust in our own power, or own resources, and the stability of earthly things like my job instead of trusting wholly and completely in Jesus’ power, His resources, and His Kingdom’s stability.
God loves the world, it is His creation and it is good. However, it is not the world, the creation, that deserves our devotion, adoration, and worship; it is the Creator who deserves it all. Our desire should not be to gain more of the things of this world, but to be filled more with the treasures from the Kingdom of God.
It is this root issue – the love of the world – that leads to so many other life issues. It is this root issue that leads us to addiction and cheating and stealing and adultery and lying and just about every other sin that you can think of. They all lead back to a root of loving the world more than we love Jesus. In fact, Paul taught and explained this reality here:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
The root of so many spiritual roadblocks in life stem from this reality – we choose to worship the creation instead of the Creator. God loves us so much that He begins to put up the road signs and cones, slows us down, sometimes even bringing us to a halt. God works in cooperation with us on a construction project to rid us of those roadblocks and to give us the freedom to cruise ahead in life unhindered and untangled.
So what is the practical solution to this spiritual roadblock? How do we not respond by our emotions, how do we not long for the things of this world, how do we trust in God alone?
Simply stated, we fix our eyes on Jesus. We look to Him, the author We keep Him the object of our affection and worship. We live according to His truth regardless of how we feel. We sacrifice ourselves not to gain temporary, worldly things, but to gain heavenly, eternal treasure. We remind ourselves of the worth of Jesus, the worth that He placed on the people around us, and everything else then begins to fade in comparison to Him and all that He has done for us.
* Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus *