Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow January 18th 2015 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Not Enslaved By Anything” (1st Corinthians 6:12-20)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ — the whole Christ — saves us wholly. In Him we have both forgiveness of sins and new lives. There are forces, however, that are very upset about your new life. Your sinful nature doesn’t like it, the world doesn’t like it, and the enemy — the devil — most certainly doesn’t like it. So you are assaulted by things in the world that serve as potential “masters”…things that try to take your life over, away from God, away from faith, and away from peace. God’s Word in 1st Corinthians 6 recognizes this threat, but then St. Paul says, “I will not be enslaved by anything!”
How can we live with this kind of confidence? What is the basis for abiding in the light of Jesus Christ and remaining protected from all that threatens our lives in Christ? These things will be the focus of tomorrow’s proclamation of Law and Gospel.
Most importantly, come and receive the body and blood of our Savior. “The life is in the blood.” (Leviticus 17:11) In the Sacrament, you receive God’s blood. Talk about life received! There is nothing better!
Tomorrow we are also presenting a special prayer and blessing…someone who was baptized in our congregation as a little baby (back when we were in Laguna Beach) is now ready to embark in full-time ministry…that’s all I’m saying for now, but I hope you will there tomorrow to share our joy!
The Lord bless you dear Christian as you continue to abide in the saving faith and may this faith be fed and nourished through Christ’s Word and Sacrament tomorrow morning!
Bible Study and Sunday School:
1. We now have two children’s Sunday School classes.
2. The high school class will continue our examination on faith and science.
3. The adults are being treated to a study by Dr. Geisler on “Music Among Christians Is…”
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow’s sermon:

“Not Enslaved By Anything”

(1st Corinthians 6:12-20)

Pastor Al Espinosa


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Epiphany light of Christ cannot be confined to ancient history. It is sometimes easy to get the impression that being stuck in history is what the Church is doing in that our Epiphany Gospels recount such events as the Magi following the miraculous star, the baptism of our Lord at which the Father spoke from heaven and the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ in the form of a dove, the wedding at Cana and our Lord’s first miracle in changing the water to wine, and of course the glorious transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of these were “epiphanies” in and through which the glory of God was revealed in and upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The teaching is clear: this is no mere man, but the very Son of God, true God, true man! He is the God-man, He is the Creator of heaven and earth, He is our brother, and He is the head of the Church!


But again the epiphanies cannot be exclusively relegated to the past. The light of Christ showing Christ to the world continues to shine, so we have Scriptures such as these that make this truth abundantly clear:


Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”


Jesus Christ is indeed the living God, and as the Light of the World, Jesus intends also to shine today, so that His epiphanies are not limited to history. They include this time and this place! They include your life! Point blank: God intends to shine through you! But given this, doesn’t it make sense that that which fights against God, would also fight against your ability to be the modern-day epiphanies of Jesus that you are called to be?! Yes of course it makes sense and furthermore there is a ferocious spiritual battle that includes enemies of God trying to keep you from shining the light of Christ.


1st Corinthians 6:12-20 is perhaps one of the most practical Scriptures in making you aware of what is capable of shutting down the light of Christ inside of you and in your life. It is a common problem and it is – make no mistake about it – a problem that relates to your sin, the influences of the world and the evil one. The problem is often purported to be “addiction” in the realm of psychology, a “societal ill” in the realm of sociology, or just “the way of the world”  in the realm of culture, especially our country, the United States of America. But all of these are sometimes ways of re-labeling exactly what we are being warned about here in 1st Corinthians chapter 6.


This spiritual threat is summed up by St. Paul: it is the possibility that something in this world could “enslave” you. This is why St. Paul is so adamantly against the possibility: “’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything (v 12).” He then goes on to mention food and more importantly, he goes on to mention sex. The list of course could have been much longer than just these two things, but the point is that God is teaching through St. Paul that we have the potential – the constant and real potential – to allow something in life to master us, to grab hold of us…our affections and desires; our alliances and our commitments; our so-called “needs” and “wants” so that before we know it, we act, live and breathe as if we are completely attached to that thing. And we begin to treat that thing as that which is necessary for us to go on.


When this happens, dear Christian, we have on our hands a false god, an idol. And these false gods and idols come in all shapes and sizes! They are as varied as human personality. It behooves us to step back and conduct an inventory of our own lives. What is it in our lives that we are tempted to allow to master us? Don’t underestimate what those things may be! For myself, I even need to consider how something like my theological library can get out of hand, though I think as I get older this is less of an issue. However, back in the day when my older children were just little babies, I was tested to say the least! Sometimes they would crawl around make a b-line to one of my books. They were known to do things like grab a pretty valuable book and either rip out a page or put a crayon to it. The first couple of times this happened, you would think the sky was falling! In a nutshell: I was over-reacting. At the end of the day, it was just a book.


I’ve shared the story before, but one time the test went up a notch: one of my little girls just old enough to walk, made it into the garage where our brand-new mini-van was sitting. Ingeniously she got a hold of a stone and figured out that she was able to sketch lines into the paint of the brand-new mini-van; the side, sliding door made a great surface and it was so shiny! When I walked into the garage I almost started choking and had to take a deep breath! What happened next must have been from God. Though I was tempted to go nuts, I didn’t. Instead, she turned around and saw me. All by herself she got this guilty look on her face. When I saw that, my heart melted, I smiled and picked her up as I calmly explained that her drawing needed to be confined to paper. All was well. I actually survived. Everything was going to be ok. Yes, we are supposed to manage and care for those things the Lord puts into our lives. Our stewardship counts! But on the other hand, we are also called not to be mastered by anything!


But things like books and cars are just the top of the cake. What if we get to the point when a bottle becomes our life? When it just feels that we can’t make it through the day without drinking? What if sexual addiction becomes real? When a person goes back over and over again to this objectivising habit feeling as though they cannot stop? What if it goes even further and invades hallowed and sacred relationships? The world wants to rationalize: “How can anything that feels so right, be so wrong?” This is one of the most popular ideas of someone being on the cusp of losing their soul.


We have freedom in Christ. You don’t have Old Testament dietary laws binding you. Go forth and enjoy your steak and potato; have your shrimp, eat your chocolate cake, and if you’re able and old enough, enjoy your beer or wine (after all, the Lord lists in His Word several legitimate reasons for alcohol like celebrations — e.g. weddings — medicinal purposes (1st Timothy 5:23), helping those who are grieving (Proverbs 31:6-7), and of course in the reception of the Holy Sacrament). Great! Enjoy your freedom, but the Lord’s message is don’t let any of these things master you (not including the Sacraments)!


Know where to draw the line. I was at a restaurant that advertised a chocolate desert called “Death By Chocolate,” and being the theologian that I am realized that that was a real possibility! The same is true for other things, but the Lord is good and has given us ways for us to be protected. Take for example the area of sexuality: the Lord came up with this great plan thousands of years ago to protect us called “marriage”! His call is clear: “Honor it!” Look at Hebrews 13: “Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (v 4).” In the very next verse the Lord warns against “the love of money” and commands us to be content with what we have.  The Lord gives us these words to protect us because He cares for us & also because He wishes to have His light shine through you!

[Here ends the Law portion of the sermon…come tomorrow and get the Gospel too!]
Hope to see you in Church!
In Jesus’ Love,
Pastor Espinosa
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