How to Shock the Pagan World
INTRODUCTION: The old gospel song is still right on target.
This world is not my home. I’m just a passin’ through.
My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.
Here is one of those “behave yourself pep talks” given by a commander to the military personnel who landed on foreign soil for the first time,
“I want all you men to remember that for the first time in your lives, you are the foreigners. This is not your country, and as such you are the minority. These are not your fellow citizens. They do not speak your language. They know nothing of your homeland except what they see in you. Remember as an individual you are representing the United States. Don’t blow it! Don’t become another example of the ‘ugly American.’ Make us proud, not ashamed.”
In Philippians 3:20-21 the Apostle Paul gave a similar pep talk. “For our conversation (your behavior) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body…”
Since our citizenship is in heaven, planet Earth is really not our home.
For us, earth is foreign soil.
We are citizens of another realm.
We belong to the kingdom of God.
Consequently, we need to be on our best behavior; otherwise, people will get a distorted perception of what our homeland is like. As a result of our behavior, they will either be attracted to or repelled by heaven, the place we call home. Maybe this is a good time to be reminded, as if we don’t already know:
We live in a pagan culture, surrounded by people who embrace a pagan philosophy and a pagan way of life. Let’s face it, our earthly culture is pagan to the core.
Never forget, God has left us here on purpose. We’re here to demonstrate what it is like to have citizenship in another land, so that we might create a desire in others to emigrate. Our mission is to create an interest in that land, “beyond the blue.”
In creating that thirst, we need to be reminded this world is not our home.
There is a difference between the “Holy and the unholy.”
There is a difference between the “life style of the believer and that of the unbelieving world around us.”
The Apostle John made this clear in I John 2:15-17 where we read, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
Now turn to our text in I Peter 4:1-6 where the Apostle Peter addresses the subject of the Christians behavior before a watching pagan world.
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (2) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (3) For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: (4) Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (5) Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. (6) For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
Notice Peter starts off in verse 1 with the words “arm yourselves.” The Greek words “arm yourselves” was used by a Greek soldier putting on his armor and taking to himself his weapons.
This word picture offers a blunt reminder that as Christians, we are not living on this earth as carefree tourists.
We are not vacationing our way to heaven.
We are soldiers on raw, pagan soil.
Everywhere around us the battle rages.
The danger is real, and the enemy is formidable.
Like it or not we are in a very real, spiritual, “Holy War.”
The paganistic society all around us is at war with our Christian philosophy of life. Hollywood is not our friend; it is our enemy. The religion of Islam is not our friend. The god of the Koran is not the God of the Bible. Islam is not a religion of peace and love. It is a religion of the sword.
Because of the war on terrorism, there is growing interest in the subject of Islam. Every American and especially Christians need to be aware of Islam’s true nature and its very real agenda. Christians and Jews are major obstacles in their path of world domination. The survival of our nation, our families, our churches and everything we hold dear requires that we take this matter seriously. Here are several quotes that sum up thought on this subject.
It is critical that when we are talking with someone and use the name "God," we call Him the "God of the Bible." That way, there will not be any confusion by those we are talking to, who you are talking about. Let me make this perfectly clear. Allah is NOT God! Buddha is NOT God! The god of the Mormon cult is NOT God! The god of the Jehovah's Witness cult is NOT God! The god of the Hindu is NOT God! The god of Scientology is NOT God! The god of the Christian Science cult is NOT God! All of the gods of the false religions of the world are NOT God! My friends, there is but ONE GOD, He is the GOD OF THE BIBLE!
I want to expose one of the subtle politically-correct traps of Satan that many have fallen into, so they don't offend anyone. I think it is comical that Satan has no problem offending Christians every moment of every day, yet we are supposed to be sensitive to people's "feelings." Let me tell you right now, if you are REALLY sensitive to people's feelings, you will tell them the truth of God's Word, so that they don't perish for eternity.
Now while we have not been paying attention, we have laws that take the God of the Bible out of public discourse. They have taken God out of the schools, removed Him from all public buildings, are trying to take His name out of the Pledge, working on removing Him from our money, and will continue to do everything they can to eliminate God. Now more than ever, those who know the God of the Bible must do everything we can to ensure that HIS name is clearly identified and boldly proclaimed to this lost world, since He is the only hope we have.
Yes, literally we are in a “Holy War” with Satan himself. But let’s bring this down to where we live in our neighborhood, at our jobs and among our families. There are three things I would like to underscore from our text.
NUMBER 1: TRANSFORMATION You need to understand that there is a remarkable difference in the Christian’s life. We live in the world which would love to have you compromise your ethics and integrity.
Here you need the inner resources to stand firm. “…Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind…” is certainly applicable for you.
The good news from verses 1-3 is those who are “In Christ” have been transformed.
In verse 1 we no longer serve sin as our masters.
In verse 2, we don’t spend our days overcome by desires as we once did.
Again, in verse 2 we now live for the will of God.
In verse 3 we have closed the book on godless living.
You sowed your wild oats when you had no power to withstand sin, before Christ entered your lives.
When temptation came along, you yielded. You were unable to do otherwise.
When the weakness of the flesh appeared, you fell into its trap. Though we may have looked strong on the outside, we had NO inner stability.
When Christ took up residence in our lives, He gave us strength so that we could cease serving sin. We have been freed! In verse 2 “the will of God” is contrasted with the “will of the Gentiles” in verse 3 which is the will of the unsaved. Notice the old habits of the Gentiles:
Lasciviousness is sensual actions that disgust and shock public decency. It refers to public obscenities. We have a pornography explosion in this country that violates the holiness of God.
Lust has to do with the inner craving of the human being. We are seeing this in the corporate scandals of “Greed and Green.”
Excess of wine and reveling are terms that have reference to drinking parties and sexual orgies.
Banquetings and abominable idolatries have reference to the pagan festivals of the day, or the “Mardi Gras” of our day. Today’s practices include occult ceremonies, eastern mysticism and the drug culture of being high.
When it comes to a shameless life style, nothing is new. Now, what is so liberating about our relationship with Christ is He “Fills the void in our lives we once tried to fill with all that garbage.”
That’s where Christians are DIFFERENT from the world.
That’s where we STAND OUT.
That’s where the light SHINES in the darkness.
And invariably the darkness reacts to such light.
NUMBER 2: REACTION There will be astonishment and anger from the unsaved world verse 4, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:”
Make no mistake about it; around us there is a marked CONTRAST between our life style and the life style of the pagans, who do not know the Lord.
Make no mistake about it, if we don’t participate in the pagan’s life style we act really weird, and they notice it.
Peter in verse 4 describes the reaction of unsaved people who do not understand the radical change that their friends experience when they trust Christ and become children of God.
They do not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another! But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family and friends think he has lost his mind!
Any life style resistant to the world’s paganistic ideals, no matter how tactful we try to be, makes unbelievers uncomfortable.
Beyond their discomfort is the inner emptiness they live with, day after day, the natural result of a life of lust. What emptiness there is when the party’s over, with the head-splitting hangover, and at times guilt as they crawl out of somebody else’s bed, wondering what disease they might have gotten this time.
It’s a horrible lifestyle! I don’t care how beautiful the commercials look, it stinks! It doesn’t last an hour, and it’s anything but happy. You get the picture? That was the “life of the Gentiles.”
Before some of you were saved, you tasted that life. But when Christ transformed your life, He filled the void and took away a lot of that drive.
But what happens next – you stand out like a sore-thumb wherever you are. Why? Because you have been transformed.
You are no longer a helpless slave to sin.
You are now interested in God’s will, the things of God.
The pagans around you sit up and ask:
What in the world is wrong with ____ now he’s got religion?
Remember when ___ was once a ton of fun, now she is Miss
Goody two shoes, a Bible thumper.
Brace yourselves for such a reaction if you have gotten serious about Jesus, who has transformed you. Oh, they may judge you, but the terrible irony of their judgment is that they will themselves face the ultimate judgment, verse 5, “Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.” Regarding this, let me first warn you and then I want to commend you.
First: I warn you to be patient toward the unbelievers around you who do not understand your new way of life. After all,
According to II Corinthians 4:3-4 unsaved people are blind to spiritual truth.
According to Ephesians 2:1-6 unsaved people are dead to spiritual enjoyment.
You need to live a testimony before them, sanctifying the Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope you have in you when they come to their sense and ask why you are like you are.
Second: I commend you to change your circle of close friends. Some of your former friends do you no good. You are not like them anymore.
Christ has closed yesterday’s door. The way you ARE is different from the way you WERE.
Hopefully, you’ll become a magnet, drawing the unsaved to Jesus, the Saviour.
NUMBER 3: AUTHENTICITY You need to start living an authentic lifestyle before the world, verse 6, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” What is the point of all this? Going back to the theme of II Peter it is,
Finding hope beyond unjust suffering, enduring hardship, seeing the reasons behind unfairness in a pagan world; that you and I in Christ are just “passing-through.” In this kind of world, you need to develop a “Thick Skin” with a “Tender Heart.”
The pagan crowd will never tell you this, but down deep inside, many of them envy you. They wonder:
How does she do that?
How can he no longer do those things?
And when you get alone with them, it’s remarkable how many of them will really listen as you graciously tell them what has transformed your life. But let me warn you “DON’T BEAT THEM UP FOR THEIR LIFESTYLE.”
Don’t make an issue of their drinking or their carousing.
They can’t help it; they have no power to stop it.
Let grace and mercy flow as you leave the rebuking to the Lord.
In the final analysis, you cannot clean up anybody’s life or lips until you have cleaned up his or her heart. And, ultimately, that’s Christ’s job. He’s a master at it. Remember, even though they have a tough-guy exterior, I believe that many, many of them are scared-to-death of death and the judgment of God.
Thankfully, the believer doesn’t have to fear any of that. Our judgment is behind us, but their judgment is in front of them. Remember the words of Isaac Watts:
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?
Sure, I must fight if I would reign.
Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
It’s a great hymn that applies to all of us.
It applies to those of you who face the unsaved crowd in your families, your neighborhood and at your jobs.
It apples to the young people who need our prayers and our support to stand up to the ungodly crowd in the public schools.
When we have taken abuse from the pagan crown, this drives us back to our knees before Christ and reminds us of our dependence on Him. Do you want to shock the pagan crowd?
You don’t need to fly a giant “Jesus Saves” flag from your house or wag your finger and rail against others’ lifestyles.
You don’t need to display bumper stickers or T-shirts with big bold messages.
You certainly don’t need sermons on shaming people.
You don’t need to wave a John 3:16 sign at a ball game.
What you do need to do is “LIVE DIFFERENTLY.” Let’s bring this passage to a conclusion. You want to really know how to shock the pagan world around us? LIVE AN AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN LIFE.
They’re lost, but they’re not ignorant or beyond feelings. So here are three simple suggestions.
One, continue living for Christ. That means being different on purpose. Let your integrity speak for itself. When opportunities occur for you to speak of your faith, do so graciously and kindly. Remember I Peter 3:15-16,
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and BE READY ALWAYS TO GIVE ANSWER to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good behavior in Christ.”
Two, expect to be misunderstood. Don’t be surprised when ugly things are said, or false accusations are made about your life. Your life will prove that they’re wrong. Relax and let the Lord defend you.
Three, keep your eyes fixed on Christ. Keep on being different. Live an authentic, Christian, godly life and you’ll blow the world away.
By the way remember, “This world is not your home, you are just a passin’ through.”
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “How to Shock the Pagan World,” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
Permission to copy: Because the “Weekly SERMON” will be reproduced into other formats, PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE FOLLOWING: The “Weekly SERMON” in its original form, without any changes, may be copied and re-transmitted by electronic mail, and copies may be printed for individual or ministry purposes, provided that such copying, re-transmission, printing, or other use is not for profit or other commercial purpose. Any copying, re-transmission, distribution, printing, or other use of the “Weekly SERMON” must set forth in full the heading that is given before each “Weekly SERMON.” Any other request for use, please contact Bible Baptist Ministries at pdmikBBM@aol.com or by phone at 570.829.5216
PS: In order to access the Weekly SERMON, in various FORMATS please SUBSCRIBE to our weekly email list at https://theweeklysermon.com/subscribe-or-unsubscribe/ where SUBSCRIBERS ONLY have access to the link to Weekly Sermon Library, SUBSCRIBERS can choose: Plain Text (TXT), Microsoft Word document (DOC), Rich Text (RTF), Web Page (HTML) or PDF (Portable Document Format), any of the format(s) you desire. After you decide on the appropriate format(s) you may then print a copy of the Weekly SERMON, save it to a file on your computer, or download it and save it to a disk for future use. SUBSCRIBERS use of this material is meant to be flexible: UNSUBSCRIBING is easy, just follow the same link above..