Series: Origins of Innocence
Our topic today is the Price Christ Paid for Our Innocence. We’re going to look at four Scriptures briefly from Ephesians 5, 2 Corinthians 5, Hebrews 9, Psalm 51. I’ve been thinking about this topic since David assigned it to me a month or so ago. I was thinking about innocence.
My oldest grandson has just started junior high school. When he started this year, I was asking him, (his name is Matisse and he’s a little guy) I’m saying, “Matisse, so what was it like getting started?”
And he was telling me they had this gathering that was an introduction to junior high school. They were playing games. He said, “Well, we were all chasing around, trying to capture people.”
I asked, “So, did you capture anybody?”
And he goes, “Yeah, I captured some girls. You get them, but then what do you do with them?”
“Yeah, I get it, Matisse.” Innocence. I love that innocence.
It reminded me of my sons, when we first moved to Phoenix, Matthew was about 10, Philip was about 8. We were driving down Tatum one day, and I pulled up to a stop sign, and they were like, “Check it out, Dad!” And I looked over and they were like, “It’s a Maserati! It’s a Maserati!”
And I look, and there’s this absolutely beautiful woman in this convertible, and they’re like, “Look at the wheels, Dad! Look at the wheels!”
Innocence. I love it. I just love it. As I thought about this, I realized that Jesus restoring us to innocence doesn’t mean that he’s going to restore us to a place where we don’t understand temptations. Where we don’t understand heartache, failure, brokenness. That’s not the innocence he’s restoring. He’s restoring an innocence that means that we’re pure, holy and undefiled. We’re cleansed. We’re renewed. We’re redeemed. We’re freed. We’re imparted grace that transforms us by what he did on the cross for us.
And that’s what we’re going to be looking at today. Let’s begin in Ephesians 5. This is a passage starting in verse 25 that’s talking about husband and wife relationships. And in the midst of it there’s some truth about what the Lord does for us and about what, in a good marriage, we can do for one another.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
Let’s pray. Father, God, help me to declare your word and grant revelation today. That we could understand what it means to be cleansed, to be washed, to be innocent in your sight. Help us to understand the price that was paid and to live the life that you’re calling us to live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A guy came over for dinner the other night and we were doing a little counseling with him. Afterwards he said, “Let me show you my new truck.”
We went outside. And he’s showing us his brand new truck. When you’re a guy and you’ve got a brand new truck, and you’re proud of it, you want to show it off. And everything in me wanted to say, “So, how much was it it.” You know? What was the price? What is the cost? Because the other thing guys like, besides having something new, shiny and big, is to get a good deal.
I remember David’s dad coming home with boxes and boxes of shoes because he got a deal on shoes. “You want a pair?” He was literally giving them away, because having the deal made him feel so good. Getting a good deal.
In this passage we’re going to see that what Christ paid was everything he had. And he had a purpose. The purpose was to set us free. To wash us. To cleanse us. To make us holy. To make us the kind of people who could be free before God, who could give life to one another.
Let me read verse 26 again:
to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Jesus gave his life for the church. What you pay for is what you value. He paid the ultimate price for the thing he valued the most, which was this family, us, me and you, his people. Not just here, but throughout Phoenix, throughout Arizona, throughout the United States, throughout the world. He has a family. And he doesn’t look at his family as we sometimes look at ours as we contemplate Christmas and who’s going to come and who isn’t going to come.
We have a tendency sometimes to look at one another’s weakness. So-and-so, they come but they don’t bring much. Or they eat but they don’t help clean. There are costs, but what’s the benefit? We have a tendency to look at one another through the eyes of, “I’m not sure if this relationship is worth what I have to put out to maintain it.”
But when he sees his people, he sees his people as holy, as washed, as cleansed, as purified, without spot or wrinkle. Now, I used to think that what he was declaring was the state of the church in heaven. Some day, some way, somehow he would unify his people. Some day, some way, somehow we would be the family that he gave his life for, that he really wants. But I don’t think that’s really what it’s saying here.
It says that “he cleanses her by the washing with water through the word." The word of God is what cleanses us. It renews our minds. It gives us the right focus. We all have a tendency to deteriorate in our thinking, to drift in our thinking. What is so essential about getting into the word of God is that it clarifies, it focuses us with the truth and the truth cleanses us from the effect of living in a fallen world.
He presents to himself a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish. That’s how he looks at us. He does not look at us in terms of what we were like because we failed. He does not look at us in terms of what we’re lacking. He washes, he cleanses us so that we’re whole before him. So that we’re free before him. So that we can give life to others as he gives life to us. That’s all he expects.
When you have a child, you don’t expect a two-year-old to act as responsibly as a teenager. You don’t expect a teenager to be as mature as an adult. You’re thankful for each stage of the development of a child. You’re pleased with the progress they make.
My message to you is that if you’re in Christ, if his word has washed you, if his Spirit has imparted life to you, then you are holy and blameless in his sight. In John 15:3, Jesus said to his disciples, “You’re already clean because of the word I’ve spoken to you.”
Years ago, I got a message from some friends in England—they had a big discipleship house, and they had a young man there who had come from Scotland—and he wanted to come visit us in Phoenix. We said, “Sure, send him over.” He came over and he lived in our discipleship house that we had set up here. He became part of Living Streams and he fell in love with a beautiful girl in our church. He was fascinated by her. After his visa ran out, he was trying to figure out ways that he could stay. He really believed he was supposed to marry her one day.
What I didn’t tell him initially, but what he discovered over time, as they developed their relationship, was that this beautiful, young girl had been married before. Her husband died from a drug overdose. She had spent time as a prostitute. She had been somebody who literally came out of great depravity before she became this beautiful woman that he fell in love with. She had been washed. She had been cleansed. She had been renewed. Eventually, they got married and they have had a wonderful, fruitful marriage. They’ve developed their own family, both through having natural children and also adopting children. They’ve been married over 20 years.
He did not marry a woman who was damaged, wounded, scarred and should be under judgment because of the poor choices that she made. He married a woman who had been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. When he cleanses somebody, when he washes somebody, he gets the job done. He knows how to do it. His blood is sufficient.
Let’s look at another passage. 2 Corinthians 5:14
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
[That is all of us have died spiritually because of the effect of sin.]
15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
That’s a really interesting verse. So, from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view, That means that your status is not dependent on your worldly accomplishments.
I went to the cardiologist recently. They didn’t set me up to see him. I was seeing his Physician’s Assistant. I wasn’t too keen on the idea because I like the pro, if you know what I mean. So now I get his assistant. I knew his assistant had just started. I had been introduced to him and he was sort of a gruff guy. We got to talking and he asked me how Kristina was doing. I told him she was getting a little bit better. I could tell he was really interested in her and interested in me. I started to warm up to him.
Then I asked him about something and I told him I was preaching down at the Dream Center and I invited him to Living Streams. He said, “Oh, I’ve been to Living Streams and I love it. But I feel a little more comfortable at the Dream Center.” And then he said, “I spent 19 years in prison.”
I go, “Really?” [I hope you know what you’re doing here with my heart, you know what I mean?]
He said, “I spent 19 years in prison.” Then he said, “Can we pray together?“ He took my hand… Now I’ve been to a lot of doctors over the years, and we have a lot of wonderful doctors in this church. But I have never been in a doctor’s office and have somebody lay hands on me and pray like this guy prayed: blessing and healing and grace for me and for my wife, and for our ministry and our future.
And I’m like, “Wow!” I had initially been looking at him from a worldly point of view. I didn’t know if he had the experience. “Oh, you’ve been in prison.” And all this stuff. And then here, I realize, “I’m with a man of God. I’m with a man who has been washed, has been cleansed.” And this next verse says :
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
He’s a new man. He’s got the life of Christ. And he had more of the life of Christ than any experience I’ve ever had in a doctor’s office in my life. And as a matter of fact, I would just as soon meet with Jesus when I go to see the doctor, if you know what I mean. I would just as soon have the wisdom, have the grace, and have the power of the Spirit come upon me as have any kind of a formula, or any kind of advice, or any kind of prescription.
And that’s what we have the opportunity to bring to people, because we’re not our old selves. Our old self, it said there in the beginning, had died with him and behold, all things are new. If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is over All things are new.
It’s really hard to believe that sometimes, you know what I mean? Because in our minds we haven’t forgotten what we used to be like. And we are still vulnerable to all kinds of doubts, and insecurities, jealousies and temptations and lust and on and on and on. That’s the natural man. But as far as how God see us, and how God wants to use us, we’re a new creature. And it’s best to get about the business of what he’s called us to. Because it’s in doing his word, it’s in giving life to others in Jesus’ name that we discover who we really are.
I got a letter from a friend of mine, I’ve talked about many times. His name is Billy Payton and he’s been in San Quentin Prison ever since I met him, which was in 1982. He’ll probably never get out alive because he has a death sentence. This is what he wrote, it’s an excerpt from one of his journals, that he included with the letter.
Not all, but most of my friends are murderers. Not sure what that means except my friends are as anyones: some dear, some tolerated, but each important in the fabric of my life’s relationships. This reality does reflect the poor choices in life I once made, and the destiny reaped.
However, fixed within that consequence has been an intimate experience with God’s loving compassion and mercy towards men like me. For in my friends there is good and bad to be seen just as anyone knows of their friends, although mine just happen to be those once lost in crime, drugs and darkness. Together we are thieves on the cross, often lost, but salvageable in Jesus’ eyes
I imagine that, while on Calvary, Jesus knew any man could easily have become one of my friends. This fact causes me to understand God’s grace and love towards all of his creation.
I’ll tell you one of the main reasons I appreciate about my friend, Billy. I’ve said this before, but when you visit him, if you’re able to look through this little slit in the glass door when they have visiting in an open area, when he departs handcuffed in the back and the deputies lead him away, there’s a sign that says, “Condemned,” just so the prisoners don’t forget that they are all condemned. He goes under that sign and into the cell that they lock him into for the rest of the day. What I really appreciate is, in spite of the fact that he wears that judgment, he has not given up. He has not quit. He continues to let God use him. He writes to people like me. He prays for people. He reaches out. He shares his faith. Because there’s something more powerful than the condemnation of man, and that is the righteousness of Christ that has been given to him as a free gift, and he has chosen to believe in the value of the free gift.
When I was a little kid, I used to pray the prayer, Act of Contrition:
Oh, my God, I’m heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all of my sins because of Thy just punishment. But most of all, because I have offended Thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. And I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the mere occasion of sin.
I used to pray that on a regular basis. The problem that I had in my life was not believing. I believed in Jesus. The problem that I had was that I continued to do the same sin that I was sorry that I had done. I was stuck in a rut for years.
This morning we want to pray for some of you who may be stuck in a rut. You may have something blocking you—something hanging you up. We want that block to be removed.
What I needed was an understanding of grace. What I needed was the word of God. I needed to read it, which I had never really done before. I needed to hold onto it. I needed to fight with it, because I had all these other pressures that were fighting against me. I needed something to fight back with—something beyond, “You’re a nice guy. You’re a good person.” Something beyond, “You’ve got potential.” “Oh, you’ve got gifts, you’re going to be able to do whatever you want in life.” No. I needed something more tangible—something more powerful. And I think you do, too.
You don’t have to know the Act of Contrition that I just quoted. But in Psalm 51, there’s an act of contrition that King David used to pray. He prayed it first after he had fallen with Bathsheba, after he had Uriah murdered, after he had been exposed as a hypocrite by the prophet Nathan. This is what he prayed:
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
He was in agony. He was having a battle in his soul. We have battles our soul. We all have to fight the good fight.
I remember going into my parents’ bedroom several times as I was growing up. The question I would often ask my mom was—she’d be changing or something— and the question I would often ask my mom was, “Mom, are you pregnant?” And she’d say, “Yeah.” I mean, it happened seven different times while I was growing up. It was a pretty easy ask.
And it was no big deal. She got bigger and bigger and she still took care of us all and made our lunches, made wonderful dinners. Then she’d go away for a couple of days to the hospital, come back with a new kid. And we did it again a couple of years later. It was not that big of a deal, really.
Then when Kristina got pregnant, it became a much bigger deal, because I got the behind-the-scenes emotion. We had a miscarriage. That was a great grief. I never even thought there was anything to those. It was like, “Okay, it didn’t work. Try again.” No. It was a big, big deal because our hopes and dreams died.
Then, right before our first child was born, she told me that the doctors had told her never to get pregnant because she had a bad heart and she could die. I’m like “I wasn’t counting on this.” And it was a battle, almost 60 hours of labor. And there was agony, and angst, and there was anxiety. And then there was blood. And I hate blood. It was horrible for me. (I just had to say that, you know? Only thing worse would have been if it was my blood.) I had a new appreciation for the cost.
When David wrote Psalm 51, he was in agony in his soul. He believed God was merciful. He believed God was good. He believed God would forgive. But he never really had the chance to know what Jesus did for us.
When I got ordained, we were having a whole bunch of people over for dinner. Kristina was making a big meal. My priest from my upbringing was there. My godfather was there, my brothers and sisters were there. Everybody was there. Kristina made a big feast. I made a big, giant table with 4’x8’ sheets of plywood. Then I thought, “We’re going to the Carpenter’s Hall for the ordination and there’s not even a cross there. What are my friends and family going to think?”
So I quickly went around the side of the house, got two great, big boards and cut them with my Skill saw, and started making a cross. And I was in a hurry and I smashed the nail and missed and hit my thumb. And now it’s bleeding all over the place. I’m thinking, “Well, no sense wasting this blood.” And I put blood on the two places where Jesus had his hands on the cross, and I put blood up on the top and down below. Then we put it in the truck and after dinner took it to the Carpenter’s Hall and I nailed it to the wall of the Carpenter’s Hall that we used to rent for our Sunday services. It was sort of a brazen act of a young, 24-year-old kid. They left that up there for years.
For most people, it was, “Oh, look. They have a cross in Carpenter’s Hall.” For me, it was a little different. I knew there was blood on that cross. I knew that represented pain. I remembered my throbbing thumb. And I realized that I had no idea how much Jesus suffered for me. I only had little bit of a sense from one hammer blow. I had no idea what it would have been like for him. But I guarantee that he believes that what he did for you and me was worth it.
As we close this service now, we want you to have the full benefit of everything Jesus did for you. We’re going to open the altars for prayer. We’re going to worship and we’re going to examine our own hearts and say “Lord, is there anything holding me back? Is there anything that’s a barrier that I need to let go of?” Because this is the day that the Lord made. Let’s draw near to him.
Lord Jesus, we’re here to seek you, to do your will, to let your kingdom come and your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We don’t want what you suffered for us to be in vain. We want your cleansing, Lord. We don’t want to hold back because of the pain that we’ve experienced, because of the disappointment in our hearts, because of our failure and the failure of others. We don’t want to shrink back. We want to press on and press into you.
If there’s something that you need to deal with, now is a good time to start by saying, “Lord, I want to renounce this. I want to get past this. Help me. I want to overcome this.” And I want to tell you, too, that this isn’t just between you and God. This is important for all of us. It’s important for your family, your marriage, it’s important for your friends that you keep growing. It’s important for your destiny. So I want you to share it.
©️2018 Living Streams Church
7000 N Central Avenue ∙ Phoenix AZ 85020 ∙ 602-957-7500 ∙ https://www.livingstreams.org
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®.
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.