What Comes Naturally / Luke 14:7-14 NIV
#1 - Doing what comes naturally is not my _______________ .
Natural Choices - where the right and the wrong are not always easily obvious. Read the two - verse 8 and 12:
“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor.”Luke 14:8 NIV
“When you give a banquet, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors.”Luke 14:12 NIV
First one seems a little more obvious. Go to an important social event, like a wedding, how do you pick the right seat? A seat with too much honor you might get moved back.
Second example not so obvious. Have you ever said, ok - next time is my turn to pick up the tab? These are the things Jesus is talking about. Frankly not such evil things, right? Just not necessarily the best. Should we care about making the best choice? Jesus seems to think so. Why?
#2 -Even when I become a Christ-follower I still retain a _________ .
We must come to grips with this issue that as Christians, we are still sinners. Sinners saved by grace, but that saving is all Jesus and not us. Easy to let pride and self-righteousness color our thinking. But if we indeed still have a sin nature within us, then our thinking can be wrong!
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”1 John 1:8 NIV
Put these two verses together in your head for a moment. Our own heart - our attitudes, our opinions, our notion of right and wrong, of what’s sinful and what’s not sinful, isn’t always right. It’s like a compass that doesn’t always point north. If we just always go with what seems right, with “what comes naturally,” then we are doomed to living without righteousness. Even when we know what we should do, we struggle!
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing.”Romans 7:18-19 NIV
Paul said he still retained a sinful nature. That he could not carry out the good he desired. That he would do evil instead of good. What a state! What frustration! If Paul couldn’t do it, who are we? Should we just give up?
NO! As a Christ-follower I retain a sinful nature, but I CAN fight it. It does not have to control me. It does not have to win.
#3 - As a Christ-follower I have 3 advantages:
Advantage One - God’s ___________.
Everyone who receives Christ, also receives His Spirit. It is a defining part of a Christian’s life:
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”Romans 8:9 NIV
That means you have The Holy Spirit’s wisdom. His guidance. His voice. His always correct sense of right and wrong, even when the choice is not so obvious to you. Jesus told us that His Spirit would always bring to our mind His commandments, His correct instructions for living life right!
Advantage Two - God’s ____________.
Jesus: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”Acts 1:8 NIV
Jesus doesn’t just give us His Spirit so that we will know right from wrong, BUT ALSO that we will have the power to be able to live rightly. You do not HAVE TO sin. You have within you the power to make the right choice and live out the right choice in your life. Because of that…
Advantage Three - God’s _____________.
“Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you
free from the law of sin and death.”Romans 8:2 NIV
The real difference between the authentic Christ-follower and anyone else in the world is the freedom you have to NOT BE BOUND by sin. Yes, you still have a sin nature, but it need not control you. You do have a choice. You can choose not to follow your sin nature. That’s the difference that God’s Holy Spirit within you makes in your life!
This bring us to the real issue that Jesus presents to us. Jesus is actually presenting us with a strategy for living. A means by which we may access God’s Holy Spirit within us so that we might have His power and His freedom from sin and death.
#4 - To live as a Christian is to intentionally ____________ of what comes naturally.
“But when you are invited, take the lowest place. // But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”Luke 14:10, 13 NIV
With the Presence, the Power, and the Freedom of God’s Holy Spirit within me, I make a different choice - a choice for the lowest place.
When I throw a party I don’t just invite those who make me look good and those who might someday throw a party for me. I do the opposite and invite other people who wouldn’t normally be the ones I would think about first.
This idea of doing the opposite can be so freeing and so helpful.
This is what real humility is about - to admit that I am flawed. To admit that my choices are not the best choices. To admit that I’m not living the life that either pleases me or pleases my Heavenly Father. And to know that I need help!
#4 must be combined with #3. We don’t just artificially do the opposite. But we admit that our natural inclinations are often wrong and so we direct our assumptions about right / wrong choices to God’s Spirit within us. We ask for His wisdom, power and freedom. And yes, often we must do the opposite of what at first seems natural, until living out the selfless life of Christianity feels more natural than the selfish life of our natural selves.
This doing the opposite is called something else too - SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES! We tend to think of those as reading the Bible and praying, but anything we do to discipline ourselves for becoming more like Christ can be a spiritual discipline.
“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”1 Timothy 4:7 NASB
Anyone who has ever disciplined themselves in any area of their life knows that at first the discipline seems completely foreign. Even wrong! Hard! Who wants to get their body in shape and so decides to go for a run, at first, ever feels normal and natural? It’s a struggle! It’s work! It’s purposeful. It feels like it goes completely against every natural instinct in our bodies.