In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
—2 Timothy 2:20
This is the second message in my series on preparing for your calling. If you missed last week’s message about being called to be Jesus’ disciples follow this link. This week we will focus on the first step in discipleship, learning to love God more than the world. When Jesus called his first disciples they immediately left everything to follow Him.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
What made these men drop everything and immediately follow Jesus? The first disciples were lowly fisherman. They were unschooled, ordinary men (Acts 4:13). I imagine the world wasn’t working well in their favor. When Jesus came, in my opinion, they saw a wonderful opportunity for change.
By the time my eyes were opened to see the truth about Jesus, I was desperate for change. It wasn’t hard for me to follow Jesus. I already despised the things of the world because I witnessed and experienced many of the evil consequences of sin by then.
I witnessed the evil behind drugs and alcohol as I watched it destroyed close family members and friends. I witnessed the evil behind unforgiveness and bitterness as I watched it separate and destroy many relationships. I witnessed the evil behind sexual immorality as it stole my innocence and robbed me of my childhood. I witnessed the evil behind flirting with worldly lusts as it tore apart my marriage and family.
Looking back now, I know the devil used the evil consequences of sin to try and keep me away from God. But it did the opposite. It sent me running into the arms of Jesus. By the time He came to me, I was ready to leave everything and follow Him. I had despised sin so much that I knew God’s road had to be better.
My past that I once despised turned into the greatest blessing for me. If I had not experienced those things, I wouldn’t have hated sin because I wouldn’t have known how evil it really is. If I had enjoyed the pleasures of this world, I wouldn’t have seen a need to follow Jesus.
I was talking to an atheist once. I was explaining why we need God’s love and protection, and he replied that everything was working well for him. He never had a problem that didn’t work itself out. He was getting by just fine in life without God. He didn’t see a need to follow God because the world was working for him. He hadn’t yet come face to face with the evil demons behind sin.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only .’”
The pleasures of this world—the great deception of the devil to keep people from following Jesus. Sadly there are many Christians who also fall into this deception. They may have received Jesus’ atonement for sin to keep them out of hell, but they see no need to live for Him here. The world works well for them. They haven’t experienced the destructive power of sin yet.
Revelation 3:15-16 says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
This is a harsh statement. But it’s the truth. We can’t love God and love the sinful pleasures of this world. We can’t follow God’s calling on our lives while walking in the dark. Jesus said, “The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going” (John 12:35). He also said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).
Though my experiences with sin were at times extremely painful, they gave me an awareness that made it easy for me to lay things down once I started following Jesus. I started laying anything down that I felt would feed my flesh instead of His spirit in me. I got rid of the trashy television shows, movies, and books, and started reading the Bible, joining Bible studies and watching things that would help me grow in my relationship with the Lord.
Each time I’d lay something down, God would open my eyes and I’d see those things in a new light—His light of truth. He showed me the danger behind those things so that I wouldn’t want to pick them up again. As I saw how much God loved me and wanted to protect me I began to fall deeper in love with Him.
Even though I’ve fallen many times in my walk with God, I can honestly say I have never enjoyed, nor will I ever enjoy, living in sin. I despise it so deeply that my heart aches when I see sin and the things of this world glorified over God.
Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
If your life hasn’t been terribly affected by the sinful nature of this world, and you are having a hard time following Jesus with all your heart, I encourage you to pray and ask God to help you. You don’t have to have something bad happen to you for God to show you the truth. He is faithful to lead you into His will and fill your heart with His love. As He shows you what to turn away from, you’ll begin to see the destructive influence behind those things. And you’ll start to desire to follow Christ with all your heart.
I praise You for showing me the destructive power of sin that leads to death. Thank You for sending Jesus to set me free from it, and giving me life here on earth and eternally in Heaven with You. Help me lay everything down that is hindering me from following Jesus with all my heart. Prepare me and teach me so that I can be fully equipped to do what You have called me to do. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!