Growing Up – Part 1

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I was saying that we need to become familiar with a couple of important words. One of those is called carnality, and it’s good to know what that word means. It makes the difference between really effective human relations, and poor human relations. Carnality according to the scriptures is….let me quote it as the apostle Paul did, “If there is envying and strife and divisions among you are you not carnal?”

Now any of you can answer that question for yourself, “If there is envying.” That is, you’re not really happy about somebody else’s qualities. Their opportunities disgust you, envying.

Then strife, quarreling, divisiveness, divisions, unresolved issues. If these exist in your relationship, then are you not carnal?

Then there is the other word called spiritual. Here again I want to refer you to this passage of scripture in the fifth chapter of Galatians because we want to make sure you understand these two words. Now here we’re talking about the relationship between you and the Lord and these are the qualities that are involved when you submit yourself to the Lord:  love, joy.

Love? Now you know a lot of people go around today wanting to “fall in love”. We seem to think that somewhere along the line there is a girl going to come along and when she does, something is going to go,” Zing!” and you’re going to tingle all over and that’s love. Now I’ll grant there is a response like that. Very pleasant response, too, but that’s not limited to just one person. In fact, you can get pretty excited over a picture. You know pornography is one of the big problems today, isn’t it? There is a normal, natural, physiological response between a man and a woman.

I have people coming to me making appointments to see me. You know what they say? “I lost my love.”  Well that’s a bad thing to lose it. I say, “Where did you lose it? If you wanted to find it, would you be interested in finding it?” You know some of us are not so sure that we would even want to find it.

Well those of us who have had the opportunity to be married, we realize, don’t we, that the day after you’re married you turn out to be just like the day before you were married. I know I found that I was my same old, nasty self. I thought marriage was going to make a warm, friendly, real nice guy out of me. I was just as mad at my wife as I ever got at anybody. My wife doesn’t know how close she’s come sometimes to really getting it.

I thought parenthood would do it. I could just picture myself as this gentle, kindly, warm, father, and I was thinking about this little baby when it was going to come. Soft and cuddly, and cooing, and talcum powder, and soft blankets.  And then it came, and it yelled, and it smelled. It had a reversible stomach. There were nights when I couldn’t force my wife to walk the floor anymore and I had to walk the floor; and do you know that kid yelling and screaming, there were times when I could have taken it like this. Have you ever felt that way about a child? Well I found out that parenthood didn’t do it. A lot of us have, haven’t we?

No, we need a power that’s not our own.  It’s called a work of the Holy Spirit, and it produces love, and joy, and peace, and long suffering, and gentleness, and goodness, and faith, and meekness, and temperance. These are the qualities that God will produce so we ought to get kind of interested in the idea of what it is that God can do for you, and how can you contact Him. Well, it’s good to check up on yourself every once and awhile. Are you carnal or spiritual?

I’m sure everybody here this morning, before you left the house, looked in the mirror, didn’t you? What for? You check your tie, and you check your face, and you check your hair. You just want to make sure you look right. You don’t mind that check up. I’m sure probably before you came here tonight and maybe a few times during the day, you took a quick glance at the mirror just to see that everything is all right.

You do that driving your car, don’t you? You keep glancing in the rear view mirror don’t you, when you drive a car? You keep watching the speedometer, and you take a glance out the left window and out the right window. You’ve got to keep checking up on things when you’re driving a car. The same thing goes with your own personal life, and it’s a good idea to check up every once and awhile to make sure, are you carnal, or are you spiritual.

There are several ways that you can handle carnality, and I’m going to deal with one of them right now, and that has to do with self-expression. Handling your carnality on a basis of self-expression. Now what do I mean by that? In this passage in I Corinthians 3, the Apostle Paul said this, he said to his friends, these are his friends mind you, “I had to speak unto you not as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.”

Now is that any way to talk to your friends? I had to treat you like a baby.

What does a baby act like? Have you ever stopped to think about it? I was one time waiting for somebody in a living room and a little preschool child wandered into the living room and so I decided to entertain him. I took out my billfold and handed my billfold to this preschool child. He started taking out my money and my credit cards, and I decided I had better rescue my billfold. I said, “Give me my billfold.” Simple, isn’t it?

He said, “That’s my billfold.” Now that’s a simple, childish transaction. I just appropriated it. So I had to get it, which meant I had to catch him first and took this billfold. And then he approached me. He wasn’t ready to give up, so he wanted me to give it back to him and he came up to me and he looked up with these big eyes and he rolled them and he smiled.  He was just so cute. And he said, “Hey Mister, can I please have that billfold back? Please Mister, Please.”

I said, “No.”

He said, “Oh come on Mister, please?”

You know how cute they are? I’ve been in homes where a little girl might say to her mother, “Can I have some candy?” And she’s standing by the candy jar, and her mother says, “No, you can’t.” And she smiles and reaches over, and real cute plunks the candy in her mouth. And her mother says, “Isn’t she cute?” No she isn’t, she’s disobedient.

Then he changed his approach. He looked at me and he said, “Give me that billfold.”

I said, “No.”

Then he clenched his teeth and he clenched his little fists and he said, “I want that billfold!”

I said, “No.”

And then he gave me the dirtiest look you ever saw, and he turned his back on me, and he tuned me out. He’ll show me.

Well you see he was talking, that’s the way a baby acts. They have temper tantrums, they have crying spells, and that’s one of the things you get used to. And they have pouting spells, that’s how a baby acts.

Now let me ask you this, at what age would you say that it’s acceptable behavior for an individual to have a temper tantrum when they can’t have what they want? Would you say forty? Twenty? Ten? How about five? Isn’t it true that we get concerned about our five year olds?

I have many mothers bring their children and they say, “We’re concerned, this child is five years old already and still has tantrums.” Well, I’ve sat in my office talking to a married man in his forties explaining to him some of the things I thought he was doing wrong as far as his wife is concerned, and his response was, “That’s right, that’s right, I understand, I agree, uh-huh, uh-huh,” and I think to myself, “I’m doing fine.” Then sometimes, very unexpectedly, an individual will say something like this, “I’ve had enough of this, I don’t have to be paying you any fee to listen to this.” And they get up and walk out of my office and slam the door, and there I am all by myself.

Now what happened to him? He had a temper tantrum. Forty years old. Sometimes these people will drive a couple of blocks down the street, call me up on a pay phone and apologize.

It’s interesting what we say about ourselves when we have these tantrums. I’ve heard people say, for instance, “I blew up.” Have you ever really seen anybody blow up? Or, “I broke down.” Or you hear people say, “I went to pieces.” Can you picture a human being a little pile of pieces? I’ve heard people say such unlikely things as this, “I lost my head.” Picture this fellow with a head under his arm. But the most amazing of all is this one, “I was beside myself.” See, this is me, I’m over here.

We say that in all seriousness. What a pathetic thing. Imagine anybody in an audience like this having temper tantrums or crying spells? I remember this one lady, mature lady. She comes in and sits down, and opens her purse and takes out a handkerchief, a little one, closes her purse. Now, I know we haven’t said a word. I know that before the hour is up she’s going to cry, I can even tell how much. I can tell by her equipment. She could predict before she left home that she would cry.

Sure enough, before the hour is up, I’m going to say something she doesn’t like. And ladies don’t say, “Look young man, would you cut it out, I don’t like that.” They don’t do it that way. They have other signals. The most amazing thing to me is how a woman can produce one tear, not two, ONE. You wouldn’t believe how long a lady can keep a tear suspended there. Beautiful things. And then comes the dramatic moment, this is really drama, when that beautiful tear crashes to the lady’s cheek. And that’s when she takes her handkerchief and whisks it away with a practiced hand. She’s done it many times before, many times before. Now mind you I’m not talking about tears of repentance or remorse or sorrow, I’m talking about tears that you use as a tool.

Now at what age is it acceptable to have a crying spell when you can’t have what you want? Forty? Twenty? I think you get my point.

Or as another man was telling me. He said one morning to his wife, “Listen here, I’m sick and tired of this messy living room, so when I come home tonight I want this living room cleaned up, you understand that?” Well, he forgot all about his speech and had a good day, and he came home that night, walked in the house, “Hello!,” no answer. “Anybody home?” No answer.

Well, he walks into the kitchen and there she is and he says, “What’s the trouble?” No answer. So they sit down to this evening meal. He’s been wanting a nice, quiet evening at home, and he’s got her, and he tries once more, “What’s the matter?” No answer. He was just hungry before this, and his appetite is gone, and the meal doesn’t taste right, and he got out of there into the living room as soon as possible and hides behind his newspaper. And his wife, she bustles around for a while and she comes and sits down, and there these two people are, one sitting here, one sitting here, in the same living room, and this is the conversation that goes on between those two people. (Silence)

Well there’s a lot of difference between peace and silence, isn’t there? You see, she’ll teach him to open his big mouth. That’s what you call self-expression, temper tantrums, crying spells, blowing your top, sulking.

You know when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had a spirit of rebellion and hostility, and I expressed it. I became a drunk. I was mad at rich people, I was, and at anybody that had authority. I was mad at my folks, I was, and at my relatives. I was mad at the church, and I listen to some of the young people speak today and I just say to myself, “You kids haven’t come up with anything original. I thought of all those things a long time ago.”

Now my form of expression was a little different. There wasn’t any dope in those days, so I became a drunk. And I was a missionary, too, in those days. My goal and my objective, I got more satisfaction than you could believe in luring somebody my age away from the church. I just loved to talk people out of going to church. If you want to have some fun, I used to say, you ought to follow me. I would come and say, “Follow me.”  ust like Jesus said, and I would lead them away from the church.

“You don’t know what fun is.” I hear that same thing today. I don’t see anything really original today that I wasn’t involved in. Not really. You know, one night I was lying down on the couch and a man came in to sell my mother a gas stove. And he stooped by that couch, and I had come home drunk, and he read me a tract. Now he didn’t read this one. I’ve got a little thing here called, “Have you heard the Four Spiritual Laws?” He read me something like that.

Now, I just want to quickly go through this with you because believe me, I was mad at the world, and that was my adjustment to my own carnality, self-expression. Do your own thing! That was my theme song. Of course I was getting into more and more trouble, too. Got fired from a few jobs, pretty nasty character. But anyway, he read me something that was very similar to this, and I just want to read it to you.

“As there are physical laws that govern the physical universe, so there are spiritual laws that govern your relationship with God, and here’s the first one. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

His love. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

“I came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” 

Now why is it that some people are not experiencing this abundant life? We want it, we’re seeking it, and we don’t experience it.

Well here’s law two. “Man is sinful and separated from God, and thus he cannot know and experience God’s love or His plan for his life.”

“All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Man was created to have fellowship with God, and because of his own stubborn self will, I could be talking to somebody here tonight and that’s a good description of you, too. Stubborn, self-will. You may be a Christian. Bull-headed Christian. Could that be?

Well we’re talking about sinfulness and we’re talking about a man’s stubborn self-will. He chose to go his own independent way and fellowship with God was broken, and this self will characterized by an attitude of active rebellion. That was me, boy. Take on the world, bring it on. Or passive indifference. Either way is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin, and the wages of sin is death. Spiritual separation from God. God is holy, and man is sinful, and a chasm separates the two. Man is continually trying to reach God and the abundant life through his own efforts, and the good life, and ethics, and philosophy.

And the third law gives us the only answer to this dilemma. “Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin, and through Him, you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.”

You know I’ve come to realize a long time ago that I don’t ever try to look across an audience and try to decide who is a Christian and who isn’t. I’m reading this trusting that if you need to hear this story, that you’re listening, and that you’ll do something about it.

If it’s through Christ that we deal with our carnality and achieve the love and the joy and the peace that we’ve been trying to reach, and then we ought to be listening, shouldn’t we?

“God demonstrated His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, He died for us.”

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life, and no one come to the Father except through me.”

So Jesus is the One. God has bridged the chasm which separates us from Him by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross in our place.

But it isn’t enough to know these three laws, there’s one more step. “We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.”

It says, “As many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe in His Name.”

Jesus speaking, “I stand at the door and knock, and if anybody hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him.”

So you receive Christ by turning yourself over to Him and trusting Christ to come into your life, and to forgive your sins.

You know I did that. I prayed. Granted I was drunk, remember. I doubt very much whether that fellow felt very successful that day about talking to me. But you know what? That did change my life. And I went back to the bar, and I found that these people were babbling, and I didn’t quit drinking. I still drink all I want, I don’t want to.

I have found an abundant life, and that’s what you’re looking for, too. And how do you find it? By turning your life over to God and inviting Jesus Christ to come into yours.

I was talking to a young man last week, a psychiatrist by the way, an outspoken opponent of religion, and he with his psychiatric background was pointing out why we don’t need “crutches” and why the church was a hindrance to people and making them weak. That’s the way he talked, an industrial psychologist. And his philosophy was wine, women, and song, and he was separated from his wife, and he could care less. Then his little boy fell into a swimming pool and drowned and this brilliant young man with his medical training and with an industrial psychiatry background, he turned to God.

“Oh God,” he said, “Forgive me for the way I’ve lived. Save me.”

God answered his prayer and I was very much interested in talking to that young man. You know what he told me? Same thing. “I’ve lost my appetite for drinking. I’m not antagonistic to the church anymore. I can’t criticize the church anymore.” That’s what he said.

He had the same experience I did. Jesus Christ coming into his life made the difference. It makes a difference by realizing that if you’re going to deal with your carnality, you need a power that’s not your own. There’s only one way that I know of to get that, and that’s inviting Jesus Christ to come into your life and you’ll find that you’ve tapped the resource that will help you in your human relations.