In 2 Corinthians 5, we find one of those famous, oft-memorized verses:
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Have you ever thought really hard about that verse? It says that a Christian is a new creature (meaning, creation) and all things about him or her have become new. If that’s true, then why do we often seem to live by the old ways so much? What does it mean that a Christian is new? Is it like a used car or a refurbished smart phone? New to you, but still a little old?
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:14–16)
This text is a key text in the battle against insecurity in our lives. We’ll come back to it in awhile. First, let’s clarify what is meant by insecurity. The insecurity we’ll be talking about is the fear of being rejected or disapproved of by others, of having a lack of self-confidence, of thinking yourself to be inferior.
• Raise your hand if you have ever struggled with feelings of insecurity.
• Raise your hand if you’re feeling too insecure to raise your hand.
What does an insecure person look like? In some regards, it can be confusing. An insecure person might be loud and bold, or quiet and shy. They might be a person who is always doing daring things, or a person who never takes risks. They might be a person who constantly seeks attention, or a person who tries not to get any attention. They might be a person who constantly talks or a person who doesn’t say much.
Insecurity is a form of fear and has a lot to do with how a person perceives how they look to other people. They have a lack of confidence about themselves. They care too much about what others think about them.
37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37–39)
The story is told of a man crawling through the Sahara desert, thirsty and desperate for water. Another man, riding a camel, appears out of nowhere and approaches him. The thirsty man, his lips parched, whispers, “Water…please…can you give me water?”
17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear [the title of this sermon came from here: Live Here In Fear]: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:17–21)
Live here in fear. Does that sound right? Does God want us to live in fear? After all, we can find verses like 1 John 4:18:
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18).
There are, however, different kinds of fear in the Bible. It is important to to look at the context of the verses. In 1 John 4:18, you will find that it is speaking about having a confident boldness in the day of judgment.
Elsewhere in the Bible, we find that we are not to fear persecution of our faith (1 Peter 3:14; Revelation 2:10); That we should speak the Word of God without fear (Philippians 1:14); and that we are not to fear death as Christians (Revelation 2:10).
Yet there is a fear we are to have, a reverent fear or, you could say, an awe of God, a respect of God…that is the kind of fear in view here.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city…
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:15-16, 20)
Life is full of circumstances that are bigger than we are. Each of us could probably point out a “wall of Jericho” that we have faced or even are facing right now. It could be a disease, like cancer or diabetes. Maybe it’s a problem in your marriage or at work. Whatever it is, to you it looks like the wall of Jericho.
Leviticus is a book that most Christians understand is important but they aren’t sure why. I hope to fix that—a little bit—with this overview of Leviticus.
To understand Leviticus you must understand that God is holy and what that means for us. The basic meaning of holy is “to be separate.” God is holy in that he is completely separate from sinful mankind. His holiness is such that we cannot approach his presence without being destroyed. God told Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20).
But isn’t God loving and good? Yes, but God is also holy. Someone compared God to the sun. The sun is good, it gives light and life and warmth. But we cannot approach the sun—not by a million miles. We would be instantly vaporized. Such it is with God.
To those who demand that God change—make himself safe to be around—I ask, “What would happen if the sun changed so that it would be safe to be around?” It would cease to be a source of light and life and warmth.
God’s holiness is his core characteristic. Everything else that he is: loving, merciful, just, and so on flow out of his holiness. His love is holy. His mercy is holy. His justice is holy. No one in their right mind should demand or even suggest that it be God who changes to accommodate us.
Leviticus is the Old Testament answer to the question: how may we approach a holy God?
Many Christians have a bittersweet feeling about our nation. On the one hand, we are happy to live in America. We delight in our freedom, especially our freedom to worship as we choose.
On the other hand, the last several decades has seen the decline of Christianity and morals in our land. We are saddened by the movement away from the Lord in America.
Maybe you can relate to the experience of Gladys Aylward, a missionary from England to China. She was forced out of China in the 1950’s after the Communists expelled all missionaries. Thinking that she would stay in areas like Hong Kong and Taiwan to be near the people that she loved, she decided to return to England after attending a prayer meeting, where, she wrote,