Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O'Neill
Probably anybody could give the introduction to this sermon. We're talking about what Jesus' death achieved for us in this present life. Why anybody could give the introduction to this sermon this morning is because I am going to start with worry. I'll read it because you could all say the same thing but I'd just like to explain it. I'd like to explain how a worrier operates because I was a worrier. And those of you who have been worriers or are worrywarts you know how it goes.
I would go to bed on Sunday night and think of the week ahead. Then my thoughts would be drawn to the things I feared might happen: things that would do me or my life or my prospects harm, things that would make me uncomfortable or unhappy. I would think of the worst that could possibly happen. Then I would begin the wearisome, impossible task of working out how I was going to evade those disasters.
Of course it was an impossible task. I could always imagine intractable circumstances that I could not possibly overcome. I could always imagine situations that I couldn't do anything about. And part of the problem was that in the situations, I would play both parts. I would play the part of the antagonist and I would play the part of a protagonist. I would play the part of the boss or my colleagues or the people in my home or the people at school or the professor and I would also play my part. I discovered soon that the reason I always failed to come out on top in these worry situations, was that there seemed to be something deep down inside me that actually didn't want to win.
I would lie in bed, wrestling back and forward with my tummy churning and churning. I was getting into a worse and worse situation until those of you who have done it know what happens. You just wear yourself out. You just fall asleep because you're worn out. It's just so wearisome. It's hopeless and the killer is you go to bed with some thoughts that were constructive but you go to sleep with thousands of unresolved problems that you've now elaborated to yourself in detail and so the sleep is dreadful.
The heart of the worry is always fear. As a worrier, my life was ruled by fear -- fear of the terrible things that might happen in the week ahead. You could say it was fear of probably three main things. It was fear of what men and circumstances would do to hurt my life or to harm the direction of my life. Fear of what men and circumstances could do, that was one thing that I was afraid of.
Then I was afraid too of what the powers of evil could do. I knew there were great powers of evil in this world and I was afraid of what they would do. I always felt they were out to destroy me. So I was afraid of those.
Then thirdly, I was afraid of what God would do to punish and discipline me. I believed that He loved, but on the whole, I felt He was out to discipline or punish me because I was such a miserable wretch. So, I was afraid of what He would do to me. I used to think that fear was just an absence of faith. But do you know it's not? Fear isn't just an absence of faith. Fear is negative faith.
In other words, it works on the same principle as is outlined by Jesus if you'd like to look at it in Matthew 9:29. You remember Jesus states a principle that operates in the universe. You would not believe it but it even operates outside His name. It's a principle, a spiritual principle that works like the law of gravity. It's a law.
Matthew 9:29, then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you." That's a basic principle of life. It's a basic principle of the spiritual world, the evil spiritual world and the good spiritual world. It's a basic principle that operates on all levels. "According to your faith be it done unto you." Many of us know it as, "Be it unto you according to your faith." That operates in regards to fear loved ones.
Fear is negative faith. Fear is not just a harmless thing. Fear is not just a little emotional trauma that you're going through. Fear is something that is operating against you in your life. What you fear comes to pass. Very rarely does it not come to pass. If you fear a thing, you actually believe for that thing to happen and so it happens. This was a revelation to me. If you walk by fear and look forward to the coming week fearing certain things might happen, you may as well call up Satan and say, "Would you make that happen Satan? I'd really like it. Yes, I'm a real masochist and I'd really like it! I can do with a little more pain this week." You may as well say that loved ones. There's a principle in the spiritual world that makes that happen because when you fear that something will happen, you're putting faith in the powers of evil that want to destroy you.
Satan is a murderer from the beginning. He wants to kill you. He wants to destroy you. When you put your faith in things that will destroy you, believe that they're going to happen, you open the way for Satan to bring those into your life. In other words, even if you believe a lie, you will begin to experience the effects of that lie e.g. if you believe that this auditorium is filled with poisonous gas and stop breathing, you'll die.
It's a lie, it's a lie but you'll die. That's what is killing most of us. That may surprise you but most of what is killing you in your life and wearing you down is the lies that you believe. Those are the powers that are operating upon you. Gradually, I began to see that my fear was not just an absence of faith but it was a faith in certain lies.
It was a faith that certain things were happening that weren't at all happening. For instance, I believed that the things that men in circumstances would do in the week ahead, could destroy me. I believed that. That's why I was worried about it, that's why I was afraid. I believed that the professor or the boss or the person who was hostile to me could actually hurt me and destroy my life and harm me and change the direction of my life. I believed that. But gradually I began to see through this dear book that it was a lie. In fact, those people and those circumstances had been dealt with.
Loved ones you find that in Galatians 6:14. "But far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Suddenly, I realized that the world of people and circumstances that oppose God's will from my life, had been destroyed by Him and neutralized by Him in the death of Jesus in eternity. Nothing that men did or circumstances did could affect my life because God had neutralized them. They might send letters, they might take money away, they might tell somebody else wrong things about me but they could not actually affect my life because God in the spiritual world had destroyed the effectualness of that and it's ability to effect me. That is the situation.
Now, I don't know about you but I got into that whole turmoil, "Well do I feel it, do I feel it? Do I feel the world crucified? That guy that hates me, do I feel that he has been neutralized by God?" Stop that. It doesn't matter whether you feel it or not.
I have faith in that chair. Do I feel it will bear my weight? Let me try to feel -- no, I don't feel it -- I'll work up a feeling. You would tell me, "Forget that, sit on the chair if you have faith that it's there." That's what you do.
If you believe that God has crucified the world in His Son Jesus and destroyed the ability of the men and women in your life and the circumstances around you to adversely affect your life this coming week, then believe that and start being happy. Stop worrying. If you believe it, you stop fearing. Loved ones you know fine well, you can do that.
You can stop fearing if you will look away from the men and women and the circumstances in your life. Look away from those things and look to God. When you're lying in bed say, "Lord God, I thank you that you have crucified all that world that would destroy me this week in Jesus. I thank you for that. I thank you I have no need to fear anything." The amazing thing is, the moment you believe that, not only can you get to sleep, but also you release what God has already done in Jesus into your circumstances. He changes those circumstances and He affects those people so that you are amazed that somebody, whom you knew was going to destroy you that week, doesn't have that attitude to you at all. A certain situation in the office that you are sure is going to come about, doesn't come about. Miraculously you release the power that God has already created in Jesus' death. You release it into your life and it works.
Now it is the same with the fear of Satan. There's a power of evil at work and so often we're taught to fear the powers of evil. I felt the powers of evil could do what they wanted. God may have control over people and circumstances but the powers of evil are out to destroy me. You cannot deal with those any other way but to fear them.
Loved ones it's just so clear in this book if you look at Colossians 2:15. This is what God did in Jesus' death to the supernatural powers of evil: Satan and his spirits. Colossians 2:15 "He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in Him." That's what God did in Jesus. Jesus has destroyed those powers. Satan does not have power. He doesn't have power. He has only the ability to deceive us and to tell us lies. But his power has been destroyed in Jesus. His greatest power was to inflict death. Jesus died and destroyed death, which took the power away from Satan.
Satan and the powers of evil cannot affect your life adversely. They have been destroyed. You have no need to fear them. You can be confident that Jesus has already destroyed them and they cannot destroy your life.
I often felt, "Well, yes, but God Himself disciplines and punishes me and I deserve both. And so this coming week I reckon there will be some hardships and some difficulties that God Himself will send and I really can't do anything about those." Loved ones, that's just a lie.
Think for a moment or two of a dad, an ordinary dad here on earth that has a little guy of six or seven years of age. (Don't forget compared with the age of God we're about two months old.) But let's make this little guy six or seven years old, so he's a lot older than us and a lot more able to take care of himself. He falls and trips and is lying on the ground. Well, of course his dad comes, tramples over the top of him, kicks him in the ribs and beats him up. You know, he doesn't, he doesn't. He runs to that little guy, lifts him up and he says, "Are you all right son?" and then helps him up.
The dad tells his son, "Don't go up those stairs." And the little guy goes up the stairs and falls down to the bottom. The dad comes and says, "You silly boy, why did you do going up those stairs? I told you not to. See the blood pouring out of your nose? That's what you get!" You know he doesn't do that, he doesn't. He just runs for that little guy as if he had done everything right. He lifts him up in his arms and says, "Son, come on, you're okay, you're okay."
All our dads are poor shadows of the perfect heavenly Father that made us. And everything good we see in our dads is a poor shadow. It's a deteriorated expression of the perfect love that our dear Father has. So the dearest dad that you have ever had, is nothing compared with the gentle, kindly, loving Father that we have who is our real Father.
In other words, our dear Father is not standing up there with a baseball bat in his hand waiting for the first opportunity to bop us. He is standing up there with His hands full of good things for us, good gifts, anxious to give us everything that will make our lives happy. That's why He sent us here. That's why He put us on earth. That's why He gives us fields of daffodils, that's why He gives us mountains and rivers, that's why He gives us beautiful lakes, that's why He gives us these bodies. He wants us to be happy. He wants us more than anything else to enjoy His world and to enjoy Him. Our dear Father loves us and that's what the Bible says in Romans 8:28.
Romans 8:28: "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him." We know that in everything God is working for good with those who love Him. When you became 21 and became an adult, did you then think, "I know what my dad is doing? He's trying to contact all the people at work and all the people at school and he is trying to plan all kinds of hideous things for me this coming week. I know that's what he's doing. He's trying to call up people; he's probably hiring people on the east coast and getting out a contract on my life. I know that's what he is doing because I am an adult now and he's going to discipline me and punish me."
You know, your dad was so anxious for you to be successful as a mature adult that he was opening all the ways for you. That's what our God is doing. Our dear God is going ahead of us, opening up everything for us, as you look forward to this coming week. Think of what you've to do this week. Do you realize that your dear Father, who loves you, has already gone ahead of you? With His great infinite mind, He is able to foresee what you're going to face this week. He is able to do that. He is able to do better than a computer. He is able to foresee all that you're going to face this week. He has already been ahead, looked at all the dangers, and He has neutralized every one of those by applying the miraculous eternal death of His Son to those situations. He has neutralized them. He has gone ahead of you and set a lunch box there and a little treat there and then on Thursday some ice cream and then on Friday somebody to love you.
He has gone ahead lovingly this week and He has planted little encouragements for you, little things that will help you. And here's the amazing thing: even where He sees that something Satan has done could actually help you and strengthen you (because all of us have to lift some weights if we're going to get strong), even there, He has measured the challenge exactly to the amount of grace that He's given you. That's why He said, "There is no trial come upon you above what you're able to bear. And with every trial, I'll provide a way of deliverance from the trial. So you'll be able to bear everything and you'll come out of it stronger than you went into it."
Loved ones, that's what your week ahead is like. Now the amazing thing is that that will only be manifested in these coming days, in your present situation, if you believe that. If you say to me, "You mean the miracle of the Cross neutralizing the powers of evil, neutralizing the world, neutralizing the powers of other people over my life, the power of the Cross to do that will not be released unless I believe it?" Yes, that's right. God has the whole thing set in place, but He wants people who have free wills. So He does not make all that happen in your life irrespective of whether you believe it or not. He doesn't.
Otherwise we would all become more and more wishy-washy in our lives, and we'd become nothings. If the Father just protected us from everything, irrespective of whether we believed it or not, we would become passive people. But even though He has the whole thing in place, you have to believe it in order for it to be manifested. I'll show you the piece in the Bible, rather than just quoting it. It's Matthew 13. There's a verse that states that very plainly in Jesus' own life.
Matthew 13:58: "And He (Jesus) did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief." I think the King James Version reads, "He could do no great work because of their unbelief." It will be unto you according to your faith this week. It'll be unto you according to your faith. If you respect Satan more than you respect God, if you respect puny men and women in your life more than you respect God, if you respect the chance power of circumstances more than you respect what God has done in Jesus, and you fear and go forward in fear and anxiety into this week, then it will be unto you according to your faith. Even though all that you believe is a lie, those lies will affect your life this coming week. And you'll end up at the end of the week with a very unsatisfied life.
But the truth is, those are all lies. God has already gone ahead of you. He has looked at every danger and has already neutralized it. The world crucified in His Son is a mighty eternal act that is not only retroactive (they enjoyed the benefit of it in the Old Testament) but it looks forward and affects us today. When we get to heaven, we'll find there's no such thing as time. So the death is today, if you like to look at it this way, a thousand years in His quarter is one day. It was 1900 and roughly 80 years ago that Jesus died. That's less than two days ago that Jesus died. We'll get to the end of this life and we'll find there's no such thing as time and it's actually today.
Jesus' death TODAY destroyed the powers of evil that are trying to destroy you this coming week. They are destroyed. You believe that and go forward in confidence this week and you'll be amazed at the way things follow, the pattern of that victory. It will be unto you according to your faith. It's no trick, and it's not power of positive thinking. The power of positive thinking has no power to change circumstances at all. The power of positive thinking is just a psychological uplift and doesn't change anything.
Faith is absolute belief that God has actually changed these things in Jesus' death and if you believe that, and go forward in complete faith you'll see those things opening out. Of course, the Bible is full of verses that say that. "He always leads us in triumph in Christ Jesus." God leads us always in triumph in Christ Jesus. So when you look forward and think, "Thursday, there's going to be an interview and I am not going to be able to handle it." That is a lie.
In Jesus, that has already been re-arranged and that interview has already been arranged so that your life will move forward from it successfully and God expects you to believe that. Think of not only the unreality, but think of the torture to a father, if that little six or seven year old who fell on the floor, lay there fearful and anxious, worried that his father was going to come over and kick him. Think of it. Think of the agony to a father's heart. The father had no intention of doing that at all, no desire but to lift that little guy and to help him to walk better.
Can you imagine the agony in a father who looks upon his child bleeding at the bottom of the stairs, filled with fear that his father was going to come over and kick him? That's what we do to our Father. That's what you do to your dear God when you're filled with fear and anxiety as you look forward to the week ahead. You can see the agony and pain in the dear person's heart when He has already been ahead, He has planned it all for you, it's all resolved, all the problems are solved and the way is ready for you to walk, in enjoyment through this week.
Loved ones, let's believe. Let's stop this fearful stuff. Let's stop this anxiety. This is just stupid and wrong and sinful. Our God loves us and He has this week ahead prepared for you and me and it's a week of success and prosperity. You know that our God says to us, "I brought you here not for destruction but for prosperity to give you a future." Those are words in the Old Testament. I brought you to this point, not for destruction but for prosperity to give you a future. Why otherwise do you think He went to the trouble of putting us here at all? Why would He put us here at all, unless He wants us to be successful this week and all the weeks of our lives and to achieve and bring under His control this intractable world?
The truth is He has already done it. All we have to do it is believe it and go into those situations like that. So could I encourage your hearts, those of you who are worrywarts, who go round and round in circles and circles, thinking and thinking about the thing, stop it! Stop! And the moment Satan says, "Yes, but", you say, "No yes buts -- God leads me in triumph in Christ Jesus. The world has been crucified to me in Christ Jesus. That is done. I am not discussing the thing any further with you. That is done."
In other words, don't let your mind be drawn out by Satan in thoughts and rationalizations. That's where we lose it. Stop thinking. Stop thinking and start believing. You say to me, "Oh but you have to think about... -- that's Satan. He is not stupid. He knows if he can get you to think one more second about it, he'll have you into his own way of doing things. He can prove to you beyond all doubts that this world is going one direction. The world itself is going one direction; we have no doubt of that. But what God says is, He has planned a safe journey for you through it, a safe and a charmed way that He has created in His Son Jesus' death and resurrection and that is the way He wants you to walk.
The trouble with our worry is we try to prove to ourselves that the evil cannot possibly happen. That's where we get into trouble. All the chances are that the evil will happen. There's no way you can prove in a ridiculous, wretched, rebellious world like this that the evil will not happen. Given the chances of this world, the evil will happen. That's why we never get satisfaction using the thoughts of your own minds and facts of this fallen world to prove that this thing cannot happen to you. It can happen and it probably will happen, apart from God and apart from what He has done in Jesus. But what He has done in Jesus insures that it will not happen to you and that only good will take place in your life this coming week.
So loved ones, would you take a stand in your own lives? Take a stand today in regard to the week ahead. Just tackle this week ahead. Will you start being happy? Will you stop being miserable? Will you stop living as if Stalin is God? Will you stop living as if you have a cruel, bloodthirsty God who is out to get you? Will you start living in the light of the fact that you have a dear loving kind Father who went to the trouble of putting you here on earth to give you a good life and a happy life and a successful life in Himself this coming week?
Then, next Sunday, you'll come here with thanksgiving in your hearts because you'll say, "Brother, I don't know how the thing turned out the way it did, but it did. The whole thing changed. This guy switched around in his opinion, it changed completely." That's what many of us are finding as we take this position of faith. Not only were our sins borne by Jesus on Calvary, not only our old self was borne by Him on Calvary, but the world of circumstances and the power of Satan to destroy our lives was also borne by Him and destroyed on Calvary. And that's how we live our lives, by faith.
Let us pray:
Father, we need to not just apologize but repent deep down in our hearts for the insult that we have given to You -- not only the insult but the incredible pain that we have caused Your heart as we have been like that little six or seven year old boy lying on the ground and fearing what You were going to do to us. We have often feared what your adversaries were going to do to us as if they had more power than you had. We have often feared what ordinary human beings could do to us and yet they are just little insects compared with you.
So Father, we want to repent of that. We want to tell you we are heart sorry, for insulting you. We're heart sorry Lord for regarding You as something that You're not, for treating You as if You were as unreliable as we may be, treating You as unloving as we may be ourselves. Lord we repent that we have even treated you as if you were worse than an ordinary Father. Lord, we tell you we're sorry and we believe that you love us. God is love and you want the best for us. And the best for us is our happiness and our growth in your presence and our conformity to your likeness. You have the week ahead arranged, so that that will come about.
So Lord, we want to cast away this fear and anxiety. We want to thank you that you always lead us in triumph in Christ Jesus. We want to thank you that you have crucified the world to us in Jesus. We want to thank You Lord that you are going to be working together for good in all the circumstances that we come against this week. We thank you for that and we look forward to this week our Father and we thank You that it has all already been arranged by you and that it is all right. Everything's all right.
You do all things well and there's not a thing but what we can't look forward to it, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday right through to Friday. We intend to do that. We'll get up each morning thanking you that you always lead us in triumph in Christ Jesus and in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. We thank You Lord, that that will enable you to manifest the actual deliverance and victory in the events of this week for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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