On May 27 of 1936, the queen Mary made her maiden voyage. With much fanfare the ship departed from Southampton England to cross the Atlantic. On the morning of June 1st, the ship arrived at New York harbor. The ship sailed around the word for 31 years hauling 2.2 million passengers and 810,000 military personnel during World War II. When the ship was retired it was brought to Los Angeles where it would become a hotel and venue for special events. When the ship arrived, they began work on the ship to restore it and turn it into a profitable hotel. During this conversion, they removed the three huge smokestacks to remove the paint and restore them to their original glory. But there was a problem. Once they got them on the dock, they crumbled. All that was left on the 3/4” steel plate were the thirty coats of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel had completely rusted away by the harsh salt saturated air of the ocean.
In a very similar way, our culture is corrosive. It eats away at our soul. When we spent great amounts of time “out at sea”, the sea has a way of working its way into you. And that’s because our culture is a discipling machine. A machine that we willingly surrender to on a daily basis. All forms of media have figured out how to use story to get us to buy what they want, act how they want and worse.
The danger is in becoming hypocrites. Either doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or doing nothing for so called right reasons. This is what we call hypocrisy. Jesus wasn’t too fond of it. The word literally means actor or stage player. It’s someone who dissembles (as opposed to resembles) or pretends. Jesus expressed his frustration with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees at least 14 times in the book of Matthew. He called them whitewashed tombs that appear beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and uncleanness. (Matt 23:27)
How much different is the person in your head than the real life version of you? In your head are you much more kind and loving than you are in your actions and lifestyle? Or is it the opposite? Are you externally loving and kind while on the inside you are full of spite and frustration about having to do such loving deeds?
1 Jn 4:17 says: “In this world, we are like Jesus.” So, we are supposed to be Jesus to the world. But, how do we know that we are like Jesus? How do we know that we have been transformed into this likeness? That’s what 2 Cor 3:18 says, we’re supposed to be being transformed into Jesus’ image with ever increasing glory. How do we know?
While there are many ways to know if we have been discipled, the simplest proof is what we look like. In other words, do we look like Jesus? Does our life look like the life of Christ? Are our motives driven by the same motive of love Jesus was driven by during his life?
Another way of saying it is, we know we are disciples of Jesus when the reality of the testimony of truth within us is in agreement with the reality of the way we live and love.
1 john 5:10 says: “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony (or the truth) in himself” Remember last week how we talked about confession? Remember that confession is to agree with reality. “in the beginning was the Word…the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” In the beginning was the confession, the confession became reality and lived among humanity.
Confession is not just the expression of an idea with your mouth. It’s not even just agreeing externally with the testimony of Christ internally. Those are important parts of it. But, confession is a life lived in agreement with the truth. That’s what Jesus the Son of God did. Jesus became the physical expression of the presence of God on earth.
God’s Spirit came on Jesus and remained on Him during His earthly ministry. It abided on Jesus. The Spirit is the truth. If we have the Spirit of truth living in us, the Spirit of truth must also work out through our lives. Look at how Jesus lived his life. He loved people. He was moved with compassion. He healed the sick and fed the hungry. He gave his life as a sacrifice. The Spirit of Truth remained on Jesus because there was nothing hypocritical about Jesus. There was never a moment when Jesus’s intentions didn’t line up with his actions.
What does that mean for us? The spirit that is in us testifies about Jesus, not himself. The Spirit boasts about Jesus. The Spirit that abides in us empowers us to keep Jesus’ commands. (1 Jn 3:24) The Spirit is how we know we belong to God. This Spirit cries out in our hearts for the Father.
The insides of a Christ follower are crying out for the Father. The internal motivations of the Christ follower are being rewired from selfish agendas and motives to the motives of the Spirit which are about Jesus and the Father. But it doesn’t stop there, this internal testimony also becomes external practice.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God and loves one another is a person who truly believes in Jesus. (1 Jn 2:23, 3:23, 4:23) Someone who has been discipled by Jesus agrees with the reality that Jesus is the son of God and loves one another sacrificially.
How do you know when someone has been discipled? They look like the person who discipled them. So, we have to ask, who do we look like?
Are we like Christ inside and out? Are external actions driven by Christlike internal motivations? Is the Spirit of truth testifying within us about Jesus so much so that we are becoming like Him on the outside?
Or are we like the smokestacks on the Queen Mary? Are we being held together by layers and layers of paint while internally we are corroding because we are being discipled by the world more than we are by Jesus?
What God wants to do is different than what the world does to us. Jesus comes into us from the inside and turns the rust into reality. The Spirit brings reality to life inside us. And when the reality of God’s love is alive inside us, it has to flow through us. Then once we are cleansed inside, it starts to change how we look on the outside.
If we’re not careful we can find ourselves being corroded by the salt of the sea. As we wrap up today, I want to let my Grandpa Wilson share with you from one of the recordings of a Revival sermon he preached at my home church.
“If the Lord can keep a fish as long as it’s alive free from salt in a salty briney ocean, he can keep you and me above sin in this present world.”