Greg Laurie – Don’t Let The Old Man In
I was invited a while ago to a film premiere. Actually it was an opportunity to see the film before it went nationwide. It was directed by acting and directing legend Clint Eastwood and the film is called “The 15:17 to Paris”. It is a true story of three men who stopped a terrorist attack in the train bound for Paris and there was a faith element because all three of these young men met in a Christian school. So there was that element of faith to it. So after the film was over, standing there in the lobby with a crowd of people around him was none other than Mr. Clint Eastwood. And of course I’ve always liked Clint Eastwood and his movies you know.
So I thought I’m going to say hello to him. So I waited for a moment and I walked up and I thanked him for making a film with a faith element. And he said to me, “Well you know, these young men could not have done what they did without help from above”. And I said that was very true. And I have to tell you, Clint Eastwood he was 87 when I met him. He’s 88 now. He looked great. You know he just looks like Clint Eastwood. Just an older version. And then he squinted his eyes and looked at me and said, “Feeling lucky, punk”. Then I heard this.
Okay these are really dated references. Some of you understand what I’m talking about. Some of you don’t. That’s a theme song from one of his films and a line from one of his films as well. Well speaking of Clint Eastwood, he was having a conversation with country star Toby Keith. They were out golfing. I read this in a Magazine article. Toby commented on how active Clint still was at his age and still making movies. And he asked Clint Eastwood “What is your secret”? Eastwood simply replied, “I don’t let the old man in”. I thought that’s a good line. I thought that will preach. In fact that’s my sermon title: don’t let the old man in.
You know, it’s kind of hard to do because as you get older you start doing old person stuff. You don’t plan on it but you just do. You know what I’m talking about. Like wearing your pants too high. Where does that start? When did it seem like a good idea to no longer wear your pants down where your hips are, but I’m going to bring them up to where my chest starts? I think this is a good place. Or you know when you’re a man, you start missing patches when you shave of course.
And another thing old people do is they drive way too slow. Right. And you get behind them and it’s like seriously. And then you go around them. I don’t know about you, but if you go around somebody that is going to slow, do you ever look at them? Who is this person? And they’re like leaned really forward like this in the car. You know the windshield is right here. It’s like do you have to be that way? Things you say you’ll never do, you start doing these things.
Another thing about older people is the filter sort of disappears and they say whatever they think and they are often cranky about something and they’ll just complain about something. There’s actually a lot of traits of getting older. I think for one thing older people like routine. They like to know what’s coming. They eat in the same restaurants. They order the same meal and they like everything to be predictable. When they come to church they sit in the same seats. You know who I’m talking to. If anyone dares take your seat you’re not happy about it either.
I actually read that is why, as you get older, it seems like time goes by more quickly. Of course time does not speed up or slow down but our perception of time can change. When you’re younger time seems to go very slowly, especially when you’re in elementary school. I felt like I spent 10 years in like the fourth grade right. Like how long will it take till it is 12 o’clock and we break for lunch? But as you get older things start morphing together. It’s almost like decades start going together and that’s because you don’t have as many new experiences. So because there is such a familiarity in the things that you do, it seems like time is going by quickly. They say the way to counter this is to go out and do new things and have new experiences.
So today I want to talk to you about not letting the old man in. But actually I’m not speaking about age. I’m talking about that sinful nature that we all have. That’s what Paul is talking about here in Romans 6. In fact, he calls that nature the old man, so let’s read Romans 6:6-11.
6. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9. knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So Paul now is showing us how to not let the old man in. That old sinful nature. Really in Romans 6 he sort of shifts gears. Romans 1 to 5 he talks about the sinfulness of man and just really makes a case for the fact that everyone has sinned. The moral people sin. Immoral people sin. Religious people sin. We all fall miserably short, but Christ died for our sin and if we will turn from our sin he will forgive us. But now in chapter 6 we are dealing with a new theme and it’s really sanctification. What is sanctification? Sanctification is something that takes place over a period of time. For instance, salvation or regeneration happens in a moment bringing a sinner from spiritual life to death. But sanctification, in contrast, is an ongoing process. Salvation is where we’re forgiven of past sin. Sanctification is where we break free from the power of sin.
So Paul is showing us now how this works out in our life. When you were baptized – how many of you have been baptized in water? Raise your hand up. Every one of us should be baptized. When we are baptized and we go into the water and come out, it’s a symbol of dying to the old nature the old life. In fact, in Romans 6:4 he says, “We died and we were buried with Christ by baptism and as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the father. Now we may live new lives”. But what does that mean practically? If you’re taking notes here is point number one: let me say that again. The Christian no longer has to be under the power of sin.
Verse 7: “For he who has died has been freed from sin”. But some might say, “I still sin. So what’s wrong with me”? Let me ask you a question. How many of you committed a sin this week? Raise your hand. You committed a sin? How many of you committed a sin today? Raise your hand. Really? It’s kind of early. What did you do? Let’s share. Here. I’ll hand the mic. How many of you are committing a sin right now? Don’t raise your hand for that. This is a problem. We know we’re free from the power of sin, but we still sin and we don’t like it. But maybe we say, “Well there’s just really no way to overcome it. I’m always going to be this way”.
As Oscar Wilde once said, “I can resist anything but temptation”. I’m fine in between temptations, but man as soon as it comes I have no willpower. I just cave in. There’s no way I can change. Or maybe you look at your own life and you say, “This is a pattern that runs in my family. My father always had a temper, so I’m always going to have a temper and I am going to scream and yell and throw things too” or “My mother was an alcoholic and so I’m going to end up as an alcoholic too. There’s just no getting around it” or “My parents divorced and that means that I am going to end up divorced as well”.
Listen, stop talking that way. That’s stinking thinking. That’s not how a Christian should think because Christ can break the cycle of sin in your life. I know this from experience. Conceived out of wedlock, alcoholic mother married and divorced seven times, my life could have so easily gone the wrong direction. But I believed in Jesus Christ and he changed the course of my life and if he can do it for me he can do it for anybody. This is what God can do.
I think we think no this is the way it’s always going to be and that’s the direction I’m going to go. Not necessarily because Jesus Christ has freed you from the power of sin. Before you were a Christian, you really had no ability to resist sin. In fact, the Bible even tells us that before we are believers in Jesus we are held by the power of the devil, but this is no longer true. I’m no longer a slave to sin. I am a child of God.
Listen to this: the power of God over sin in your life is more powerful than satan’s power was. I heard one kid say to an older kid, older sibling “You’re not the boss of me. I don’t have to do what you tell me to do”. You can say to the devil “You’re not the boss of me”. You can say to sin “You’re not the boss of me anymore. I’m no longer a slave to sin. I am a child of God”. But some people will understand that God has forgiven them and they will use it as sort of a license to sin thinking, “I can just keep doing this because God will forgive me”. Actually, in 1 John 3:8 it says if people live that way, if they keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the devil. In other words, if you deliberately, woefully, continually sin without any remorse or any desire to change, I have to wonder are you a child of God?
If you will admit, “Yes I do give in. I do have these thoughts. I do struggle with it. I don’t want to do these things,” that is something every believer deals with in one way, shape, or form. Every one of us still sins. The Bible says if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in it and us. But here’s what Paul is saying. You don’t have to be controlled by sin any longer. Verse 2: “How shall we who are dead to sin, live any longer in it”? By the way, that phrase “Live in it” means to swim in it or to breathe its air or let it be the main tenor of your life. Listen, “Whoever continues to sin without remorse is not in danger of losing their salvation. Rather, by their choices, they reveal they may have never have salvation to begin with”.
Point number two: you’re no longer a slave, so stop acting like one. Verse 6: “Knowing that our old man was crucified with him that the body of sin might be done away with. We should no longer be slaves to sin”. One of the worst national sins of America was slavery. And after the civil war ended president Lincoln signed what is known as the Emancipation Proclamation. All slaves young and old were finally given their freedom. But history tells us that many of the older slaves who had endured years of servitude did not fully understand their new status. In fact, many slaves stayed on the plantation.
Fast-forward now to the 20th century and there’s still a lot of prejudice and bigotry shown to African-American people in states like South Carolina and Alabama and Georgia. They were still treated like second-class citizens. Segregation was the rule. African-American people had to stay in separate hotels and eat in separate restaurants and use separate restrooms and see degrading signs over a drinking fountain with words like: “For colored people only”. So along came Martin Luther King who stood up for the rights of black people and he gave that great speech there in Washington DC and I quote from it.
Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree is a great beacon of light and hope to millions of negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice, but 100 years later, the negro is still not free.
He was right and there were various people that stood up for their rights because they said, “We are no longer slaves and we are not going to live like slaves”. One of those people was Rosa Parks. They call her the first lady of civil rights. It was my privilege a number of years ago to actually meet Rosa Parks. Now if you know her story she was on a bus in Alabama and the rule was you had to give up your seat to a white man if you are a black person on a bus and she refused. She became legendary for that and so I ended up on a bus with Rosa Parks. I’m not making this up. I know it sounds like fiction. This is true and here’s how it happened.
I had written a book and there were a bunch of other authors who had written books at the same time. Josh McDowell had written a book. Ravi Zacharias and Ralph Reed and Rosa Parks. So they said, “We want to put you on a bus like you’re on a tour and we’re going to have you go from sort of the headquarters over to a bookstore”. So it was just a little kind of press thing for fun. So I get on this bus and there’s Rosa Parks and all the other guys are talking and having fun and I said, “Wait, is that Rosa Parks”? They said yes.
And I sat down with her and I all I wanted do is just talk to her. I wanted to hear her story. She was an amazing woman and she had written a book about her faith in Jesus Christ and she said it was that faith in Christ that motivated her and influenced her and informed her to make that principled stand. She basically said, “I’m not a slave and I’m not going to live like a slave,” and we need to say the same thing to sin today. We’re not slaves anymore and we’re going to be free people. Because Jesus issued his own Emancipation Proclamation from the Cross of Calvary when he cried out the words “It is finished”. The power of sin is broken in your life so you can start living like a free person.
Now listen, Jesus paid the penalty for your sin, he freed you from the power of sin, and soon in heaven he’s going to remove you from the presence of sin. Now most believers know he took our penalty when he died in our place, but they fail to realize that he also frees us from the power of sin – not just from the guilt but the grip of sin. But the devil whispers in your ear, “You’ll never change. You’ll always be this way. I’ll always have a hold of you,” and we can just say to the devil “Go to hell because you’re a liar and you’re the father of lies”. Some of you are saying, “Did Greg just cuss”? No. Hell was created for the devil and that is where the devil is going to go.
Point number three: you need to start living like you are free if you feel it or not. Start living like you are free from sin’s power if you feel it or not. It would be like living like a homeless person when you have a beautiful home, or living like a person on the street begging for food when in fact you have plenty of money in the bank and food in your refrigerator. So here’s what we need to do, we need to count this is true or believe the promises of God. Look at verse 11. “Likewise, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Reckon – we don’t know. What does that even mean? Reckon. It’s not a word we use that often. You see it in old westerns. You know the cowboy will say, “I reckon I’m going to fill you with lead, boy”. Or something like that. It generally means reckon – think so. I reckon. But that’s not what it means in the Bible. The word reckon means count as true. Count as true. It simply means believe what God has said. Claim the promise that God has given.
God says you’re no longer a slave to sin bringing me to point number four: we need to yield ourselves to God. Verse 13: “Don’t let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourself completely to God for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God”. God has given to you your body. People will sometimes say “It’s my body and I have my rights”. No. It’s actually not your body. God gave you that body. The Bible says you’re not your own. You’ve been bought with a price, therefore, glorify God with your body. You need to present your mind to him. Present your hands to him, your feet to him. Everything to him. It belongs to him.
Anthony Bourdain had a tv show on CNN called “Parts Unknown”. He’d travel around the world and try unusual foods and have conversations with people and often asked him the question: what makes you happy? Bourdain was quoted to say, “Your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park, so enjoy the ride”. Really? Well, he didn’t seem to enjoy the ride all that much because sadly Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. No. Your body is not an amusement park. Your body is the temple of God, and we need to think about what we do with this body that God has given to us.
You know, the Bible tells that people who yielded their bodies to God, God used the rod in the hand of Moses to conquer Egypt. He used the sling in the hand of David to defeat Goliath and ultimately the Philistines. He used the words of the prophets and the apostles to change the world. This is why the Bible says how beautiful are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things. So you can give your body to God and you can also give your body to evil. David’s eyes looked on a woman lustfully. Plotting a wicked plan, his hands signed an order condemning an innocent man to death and that is why we need to present our whole body to God.
Point number five: where you turn your head, your body will follow. In the cinematic masterpiece “Kung Fu Panda 3” this statement is made: “Before the battle of the fist, comes the battle of the mind”. Very true. So you know we talk about this battle that we’re in. It starts right here. This is Command Central. Listen, you are the air control or Air Traffic Controller of your mind. You know an Air Traffic Controller decides what plane flies where, at what altitude, when they’re going to land, what they’re going to do and you decide what thoughts are going to come into your mind. And so wherever you look, that’s where your body will go.
I know when I ride my motorcycle, which is not very often these days, but when I make a turn I look and I turn into it. I don’t lean this way and look that way. No. I’m looking at where I’m going and so the way you’re looking and the way you’re thinking will determine the way that you will be living. So we have to start with the thoughts that come into our mind and be very careful about what we let in. It’s been said you can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop him from building a nest in your hair. In my case, he would have to bring his own materials. In other words, I can’t stop whatever random evil strange thoughts come knocking on the door of my imagination, but I don’t have to invite them in for lunch now do I? I can say I reject that thought. No, I’m not letting that thought in either. Nope. Not that one. Oh this thought? This thought is good. This thought is coming in.
I love what Paul writes in Philippians 4. He says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just and pure and of good report, if there’s any virtue, if there’s anything praiseworthy – think on these things”. Or literally meditate on these things. Another translation puts it this way, “Summing it up, I would say you’ll do your best by filling your minds by meditating on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best not the worst, the beautiful not the ugly, things to praise – not things to curse”.
So when that thought comes to you – in church or at 3 o’clock in the morning – those thoughts of terror, those terrors by night, those fears that grip you, you just run it through the grid. Oh, wait. This is not from God. This isn’t true. This isn’t helpful. This isn’t inspiring. I reject this thought and I’m going to replace it with another thought because I’ve taken the time to memorize scripture and that’s how you win the battle of the mind that rages on every single day. Ask yourself the question: this thought that wants in right now, is it true? Is it helpful? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it ugly? Is it the worst? Then you don’t want that thought in there.
And the devil will say “You’re going to fail. God doesn’t even love you. Life is over for you”. And you say to him, “It’s not true because God is for me”. Here’s Romans 8:31, “If God is for us who can be against us? Since he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one – for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? Answer: no one – for as Christ died for us and was raised for us, he’s sitting at the place of honor at God’s right hand pleading for us”. God has you covered, my friend. Don’t listen to the lies of the devil that says it’s over. God is working in your life and as we’ll learn later in Romans, he’ll cause all things to work together for good to those who love him and are the called according to his purpose.