I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (1 Cor 15:31-34)
But for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. (Ps 44:22)
Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:36-39)
Today’s message is “Win the Fight Against Yourself.” How do you win against yourself? Today’s main passage says, “I die daily.” Dying daily is like giving up in an argument with someone who refuses to see your side, and you think to yourself, “I will just hold it in and lose this argument. I will die again today.” It’s to think, “If I didn’t believe in Jesus then I wouldn’t have let this go, but as His believer, I should hold it in and die for the other.” Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Imagine retreating from battle, but you see your enemy’s unguarded moment and take that chance to counterattack all together, resulting in conquering an entire city. How jubilant you would be! During the Korean War, Seoul was captured by the North Korean army then was recovered on September 28th of 1950. When the flag of the Republic of Korea was raised, a marine cried out, “Long live Korea!” while shedding tears. Controlling one’s mind is greater than recovering the once captivated city.
Dear Saints! This world’s most difficult and malicious fight is the battle against oneself. It is in fact a very evil fight. It is when you feel like you have overcome that sins like greed, jealousy and envy come out once again. This battle is the most terrible, most miserable, most embarrassing and most shameful fight. Would you not walk around in shame if you fought with your spouse and the entire town knew about it? The battle against the self is even more horrible and vicious. It is a good battle only if you win, but many times you lose while fighting. You must control your feelings that burst out unexpectedly. There is an English proverb that says, “Man has no greater enemy than himself.” The enemy that resides in one’s mind is more fearful than any bandit or robber. Even when you feel at peace, emotions surge up the moment you hear or see something. This is why Apostle Paul said, “I die daily,” for there is no other person more vicious than yourself. Even today, most saints live without being able to control their minds. Only when you are filled with grace and the Word can sins like greed, jealousy and envy not enter. How could these sins possibly find a place to reside in you? Do not think highly of yourself just because you have been a believer for so many years, or because you work at the church as an elder or deacon. Instead, reflect on whether or not you are truly full of grace, the Holy Spirit and the Word. Just as a honey barrel is filled with honey and a soy sauce bottle is filled with soy sauce, our hearts must be filled with nothing else but grace, the Holy Spirit and the Word. Stephen was this kind of man, full of faith, wisdom and the Word. He was so filled with truth, faith and the Holy Spirit that no evil could be found in him, such that even when he was stoned to death, he did not stir an eyelid. As he prayed he saw the gates of heaven open up and Jesus sitting at the right hand of God.
Dear pastors, elders, eldresses and deacons. Please listen well to what I am about to tell you. Grace, truth and the Word will all disappear from you the moment you lose your temper. This is the problem. We must continue to conquer ourselves until we enter heaven. Paul was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he could even save the dead, also performing miracles and healing the sick just from his shadow passing by. Paul realized that the Holy Spirit would leave him if worldly thoughts entered into him. For this reason, he understood that he needed to die daily. God is busy from constantly moving. He moves into our hearts, but when we allow worldly thoughts inside, He is busy packing to move out. Because of this, Paul lamented seven times: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” We, however, live shamelessly without even lamenting once, let alone seven times. Apostle Paul stated, “the enemy is within me.” He said that when man joyfully concurs with the law of God in his innerself, Satan soon creates opportunities to make man insult others, having him neglect all the grace he once received with great effort. When this happens, Satan rejoices while we feel deep regret for realizing too late (Rom 7:7-25). When worldly things come out of a person’s mouth, it means that one’s thoughts were already defiled (Matt 15:17). Platon said, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself.” Therefore, please pray to be captivated by the Word in order to please God in His work. Above all, ask for His grace and His Word to overpower and seize you.
The first enemy to oneself is greed. David testified that we live our lives temporarily like sojourners, and our days on the earth are like a shadow (2 Chr 29:15). James said our lives are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away ( Jas 4:14). Sojourners must travel lightly. If you go to Anyang from Seoul, who would take with you heavy luggage? You only need to place simple things in your pocket to go, since you’re returning shortly after work. Greed forms inside of us because we forget that we live the life of a sojourner.
The first man Adam was deceived by the devil, saw that the tree of knowledge of good and evil was pleasing to the eyes and looked good for food, and at last his hand reached out to take it. The devil may have deceived by saying, “You surely will not die,” but God had already certainly and clearly said, “You will surely die.” This is why humans carry their tombs with them the very moment they are born into this world. Jesus came to solve this. Do not be greedy. Greed is also the cause of relational problems between men and women. Other wives look more attractive than one’s own. Greed comes in the form of both hatred and jealousy. The love for money and lust are also forms of greed. Please do not forget 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
Then what must we do to not have greed? We must receive the Holy Spirit. We must pray, “God, give me a new heart, and please do not take the Holy Spirit away from me.” King David confessed that when the Holy Spirit left him, he was ruined and put to shame and led trouble to his nation. We must be careful. Man is tempted by many things (Jas 1:15; Eph 4:22-24; Rom 7:11; Heb 3:13). We are tempted because of our pride and our haughty spirit (Prov 16:18). God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (1 Pet 5:5; Jas 4:6). A proud man destroys himself. If you think you are smart, rich and better than others, you are too proud. The moment those thoughts enter you, realize that you are not filled with grace. I hope that you will live a life with this prayer: “I have yet to die. I will die again. I die daily.” You must know God and be thankful (Rom 2:21-).
The second enemy to oneself is hot-bloodedness. Blood is 90% water, and water carries the components of blood. However, when blood surges, all movements stop; green light turns to red. When you become enraged your blood pressure rises, and when it rises too high death will call for you. The vitality in blood sustains life, but when its energy is turbulent, it swells up. God did not create man with this attribute, but sin caused man to become a creature of emotions that roars to prey on others. We must always be full of gratitude. When you see the red light, you must stop and control your feelings. Realize that your supervisor, the Holy Spirit, protected you by stopping you. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guard your thoughts and protect your heart. Emotions are like flowing water. If you can control it, it is beneficial and mild. But if you lose control of your emotions, they become turbulent and you get enraged and your blood will boil. If you show your rage to your wife or show your temper at work, you are not qualified to be a leader.
The third enemy to oneself is jealousy. It drives people mad. One will easily get jealous and judge at the seat of God upon hearing the news that someone else received grace, thinking, “How long can it last? He cannot change who he truly is!” You must praise the person and raise him up from bottom of your heart. Instead, people would rather speak ill of others due to jealousy. Jealousy refers to envy and hatred. Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15). It is murder to kill someone with a knife, a gun, a rod, and even with a word. The devil will not allow someone to stay blessed and happy. He rejoices when that person comes to ruin. There are those who are indifferent upon hearing that someone is doing well, but then will change their attitude and show interest when someone is devastated. Jesus’ love is to rejoice over the good news of others, saying, “Is he doing that well? Wow, he is better than me!” Furthermore, when someone is in trouble, Jesus’ love is to cry and pray for that person. Jesus came to bear the sins of mankind, and the devil poured out the evil spirit of jealousy to the priests, high priests, elders, officers, and Jews of that time. Their jealousy resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Matt 27:18; Mark 15:10). All our elders, eldresses, deacons, and believers of Pyungkang Cheil Church, please pray for jealousy to be cast away for all eternity! (Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 3: 3; 2ㅜCor 12:20; Acts 5:17, 13:45; Jas 4: 5-7; 1 Pet 5:1-2)
The fourth enemy to oneself is idleness. When you go to bed without finishing your task, another task will be waiting for you when you wake up. Man must be diligent. When I have to catch a flight, I go to the airport hours in advance. Many question why, but it is because I take into consideration of a possible traffic jam due to car accidents. I can also get a good seat if I check in early. Lazy people like free food. Apostle Paul tried his best not to give any burden to other believers at church, even when he was over the age of seventy. A lazy man is bothered to even deliver food from the bowl to his mouth.
I will now conclude.
On the last day, when the plagues of the seven trumpets and seven bowls arrive, God will save His saints. God gave Cush and Sheba as ransom: “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life” (Isa 43:3-4). He saves you on your deathbed.You have received this kind of blessing, so do not be haughty, hot-blooded or jealous. Why is it that you still cannot believe? “The righteous is delivered from trouble, but the wicked takes his place” (Prov 11:8). When you think about this, how can you still be greedy? Even if after knowing this you still cannot believe, please read Proverbs 21. “The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, And the treacherous is in the place of the upright” (Prov 21:18). Do not worry. No matter how disordered the world is, even though it may collapse, God will deliver His believers from trouble. Heaven and earth together cannot overcome the authority in the name of Jesus. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Prov 13:22). “He who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor.” (Prov 28:8) “Though he piles up silver like dust and prepares garments as plentiful as the clay, he may prepare it, but the just will wear it and the innocent will divide the silver” ( Job 27:16-17).
It is just like the Israelites leaving Egypt with silver, gold and precious things when God told Abraham, “Your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.” The Egyptian army came to themselves too late and chased after the Israelites, failing in their three day journey to catch them. Please have the faith that God will pour blessings upon His believers and those who are faithful and upright. God will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty. “The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow” (Deut 28:12). In our sojourner’s life, what a blessing it is to hold onto something everlasting. Our faith is the greatest, number one treasure in heaven. God will His good storehouse, the heavens. So I pray in the name of Jesus that you may fill your cart of faith fully, and that each and every one of you will die daily in faith.
Aug. 5th, 2004. Rev. Abraham Park’s last sermon during the 2004 Summer Retreat