Sermon on 1 Peter 1:22-25

New Year’s Eve

The Changeless Word Will Change You This Year

Intro

“This year I’m going to do it.”  How many times have you said that before?  “This year I’m going to lose the weight.”  “This year I’m going to quit.”  “This year I’m going to be more patient and less snippy and snappy.”  “This year I’m going to read the whole Bible in one year.  I’m really going to do it this time.”  “This year I’m going to go to church and Bible study more.”  “This year I’m going to get more involved.”

Some call them promises.  Some call them vows.  Most call them New Year’s resolutions.  Whatever you call them, we’ve all made them.  There’s something nice and fresh about being able to start over.  It’s an ideal thought that we can try again and try harder this time.  “A new year, a new me,” we tell ourselves.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  For planning purposes, why not start a new resolution or a new rededication with a new calendar year?

The problem is, many of our resolutions don’t make it past the third college bowl game on New Year’s Day.  Others might make it into spring.  If we’re lucky we make it to summer.  Rarely do we really change the way we want to change.  Rarely do we truly hold to our resolutions and change our lives.

So we get frustrated.  We get down on ourselves.  We get angry.  Why can’t I do this?  Why can’t I ever keep my promises?  Why can’t I change?  Ho hum.  2011.  Just another year.  No changes.  Nothing different.  Nothing better.

I.

But we must understand that this a part of who we are.  This is what humans are like.  We are imperfect.  We are sinful.  We are temporary.  Listen to what Peter says as he quotes Isaiah, All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.”

This is the nature of mankind.  We’re just like the grass and flowers of the field.  This time of year in Florida is a great example.  In the summer we can’t stand the grass.  It seems impossible to get rid of.  We cut the grass and turn around to put the lawn mower away in the garage and it has already shot back up to ankle height.  The grass, the weeds, the flowers seem to be on plant steroids in the summer in Florida.  But then it starts to get chilly and that first and rare winter freeze hits like it did last week.  Suddenly all of the grass is brown and dead.  It doesn’t matter how many blankets you put on your palm trees or birds of paradise.  They are going to die.  What was thought to be so strong and vibrant has a shelf life of only a few months!

Peter quotes Isaiah to remind us that we are the same.  We often get lost among the trees of our lives, but forget about the forest around us.  We become so focused on everything that is so important to “me.”  My job.  My family.  My kids.  My house.  My car.  My free time.  My home improvement projects.  My vacation time.  It’s as if we are the center of the universe.  It’s also as if we have forgotten that human life only lasts 80-90 years, give or take.  In the 6,000-10,000 year history of this this world, we are just a tiny little blip on the radar screen.  Just as the grass withers and the flowers fall so quickly, so also will our lives be over before we know.

Why?  Because we are imperfect and sinful.  Beginning with Adam and Eve, sin broke the perfection of this world.  Sin destroyed the immortality that belonged to them in the Garden of Eden.  Since then, we have only followed in the footsteps of our first parents.  We too bite the forbidden fruits of temptation that Satan sets out for us.  We taste his devilishly delectable treats of hatred and anger and rage.  We nibble on the nasty thoughts of slander and gossip.  We have an appetite for the apathy of faith that doesn’t care about reading the Bible or coming to worship or praying to God.

We stand side by side with our first parents, Adam and Eve, and shudder to face our holy and righteous God knowing that we have disobeyed him.  Shivering and shaking in fear, we hear the same pronouncement of judgment.  As Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, became mortal and were doomed to die, so we too have become undeserving of eternal paradise, we are mortal, and we will die.  It’s all because we are sinners.

Have you ever noticed how many of our New Year’s resolutions have to do with sin and its consequences in this world and in our lives?  We vow to be nicer to people because we always lose our patience and get angry.  We vow to break or quit that really bad habit that we know isn’t right.  We vow to lose the weight we gained from overeating and not caring for our bodies.  We vow to try harder when it comes to God—reading his Word, coming to church, praying.

All of those things happen because we have sin in our lives!  And we usually fail to keep our resolutions because we are sinners and we can’t stop sinning.  So just as we all are destined to die because we are sinful, so also our resolutions die because we are sinful.

II.

We need a cure!  We need help!  Thank God we have one!  Sinners lead lives of spiritual death that lead to eternal death.  But thank God that we have been given new life.  You could say that we have been born again with new life.  That’s what Peter says.  Take a look at verse 23:  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

God’s Word has accomplished something.  The living and enduring word of God has accomplished something very important.  It has caused us to be born again—born again with a new life that will not perish but that is imperishable.  Our new life is eternal.

You see the living and enduring Word of God has revealed an imperishable message to us.  Peter shares the message in his letter just before the words in the lesson this evening.  Here’s what he wrote:  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

Our new spiritual life wasn’t purchased with Mastercard or Visa.  It wasn’t bought with a suitcase filled with $100 bills.  It wasn’t even obtained with precious metals like gold or silver.  All of those things are perishable items.  Perishable items can’t give life to perishable and sinful people.

But Jesus can.  He is imperishable.  He is eternal.  He is God.  Thus, our new spiritual life was purchased with his holy and precious blood and innocent suffering and death.  He bought us new life through his sacrifice on the cross as the Lamb of God.

So when Peter says in verse 22 this evening, Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth,” it’s not that we really have purified ourselves at all.  It would be impossible to save ourselves.  Rather, Jesus has purified us through his life and death in our place.  We simply believe it—obey that truth—and that purification is applied to our lives.

This is the imperishable message that the living and enduring Word of God reveals to us.  We have now gone from a status of perishable sinners to imperishable saints because Christ gives us forgiveness through his life and death.  Look at verse 24 again.  As sinners our lives might be short lived and brief, but then in the next verse he says,  “’But the word of the Lord stands forever.’  And this is the word that was preached to you.’” The Word of God has revealed to you your Savior Jesus Christ.  The Word of God has brought you to faith.  The Word of God has brought you from perishable to imperishable.

III.

So if you want to make a change this year, stick with something that never changes.  The Changeless Word of God Will Change You This Year.  It already has changed you permanently, bringing you into God’s family.  It can and will continue to change you.

Look at verse 22 again:  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth (believing) so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” As the Word of God continues to reveal to you the love of your Savior Jesus, it will inspire in you a sincere and deep love for one another.  It tells you about the power of Christ’s love, and then it fills you with that love to be more patient, more kind, more generous, more helpful, more empathetic and sympathetic.

God’s Word inspires love.  It gives wisdom.  It fills you with peace and joy and hope.  It leads you to follow in God’s ways.  It strengthens your faith.  It increases your trust.

Conclusion

We are about 275 minutes away from 2011.  Do you really want to change this year?  Do you really want to be different?  Do you want to make a resolution that will make a difference in your life?  Then devote yourself to the Word of God!

Read your Bible at home.  Just 15-20 minutes a day, or 4-5 chapters a day, and you will easily read all of it in a year.  Read the church blog online where I will be writing more and more comments about Scripture online.  Be in worship regularly—our worship is 100% filled with and based on God’s Word.  Come to Bible study to learn more and dig deeper.  There are some great topics in store for 2011!

The Bible has not ever and will not ever change.  It is always the inspired and inerrant Word of God.  It is powerful.  It is changeless.  Devote yourself to it in 2011 and see how God will bless you!  The Changeless Word Will Change You This Year!

AMEN

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Posted on January 1, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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