I suppose we could all tell stories about being grossed out by something or someone in each of our lives, the time that I remember most vividly to this day happened more than 25 years ago in Montreal it happened in a video store, remember those, video stores used to go in and give your money they give you a video cassette for your player, I'm old enough to remember that in Montreal you had to go in not only rent the video they also rented you a VCR if you wanted in a tote bag so you'd rent the VCR and the movie and bring it home, but anyways while I was waiting to rent a movie or something like that they had movies playing they had things playing on the different monitors in the store this was a little independent to store and I was just randomly watching something while I was waiting for my turn and I didn't know it at the time but the clerk had put into the VCR a film entitled Faces of Death Part 1. Somebody said yuck ok, Faces of Death Part 1.
I later found out that this video was simply a series of clips from news programs and other sources that actually showed people being killed in accidents and other situations, like a gruesome not so funny home videos if you wish ok.
Without realizing what I was watching, and I only saw for about six or seven seconds I was looking around and looking at it without realizing what I was watching, I saw a man get hit and killed by a race car going 180 miles an hour, in other words it was one of the crew the pit crew was trying to cross the track to get something on the other side of the track and he started to run didn't realize the car was coming and you actually saw the person being hit it was terrible it was awful awful and to this day those things you just cannot erase in your brain that image is there you just cannot erase the thing and I was so so grossed and I told the guy to win it wait what are you thinking their kids that come in here how dare you do that.
I'll never forget the scene even a casual glance 10 seconds and as I said that scene is permanently etched into my mind. So when I think of gross I think of that video I think of that terrible and disgusting scene.
Now the dictionary defines the term gross in three ways: first, something outrageous or glaring something that grabs your attention, two, something that is obscene or indecent an act or an image that goes way over the line of what is moral or good or in good taste, and three, something crude or vulgar or insensitive something that has no regard for feelings or propriety or good manners or what is good and right, I think that video that I saw probably fell in that last category there.
It seems that we've entered into an era today where gross has become fashionable, TV talk shows they outdo each other especially on cable to gross out its audience and its viewers by saying the most outrageous things, things you would never you'd hear in the locker room or something, this is on TV.
Movies and books use polite terms like wow they're really pushing the envelope or they're exploring new creative forms simply to hide the fact that they are coming out with more material that is gross in nature.
Used to be a comedy with you were pretty safe with a comedy right was going to be funny a comedy today comedies are R rated for the language and for the situations. One artist put a crucifix upside down in a jar of urine and put that forward as art and the critics hailed him as a genius avant-garde pushing the envelope oh who could have thought of such a creative thing.
Then of course music and music videos have almost no boundaries in the type of language used or the scenes depicting sex or violence or death aggression especially towards women. Even advertising has jumped in on the bandwagon with I remember a couple of years back Calvin Klein the clothes maker also makes underwear stuff like that they had ad big billboard ads depicting I mean what I would call softcore pornography using children they used models that maybe were 18 or 19 years old but these models look like they were 12 or 13 images that would only appeal to a pedophile they were using this to sell underwear.
The problem is that gross has become cool. If you don't believe me then survey most young people even some in our own congregation and you'll find out that a majority don't they don't see the problem with a lot of the stuff that I've just talked about, probably spending way too much time on their phones cruising through YouTube to find more and more gross stuff to watch.
Now the problem with gross being cool is that eventually gross is no longer cool it just becomes normal, it becomes acceptable, it becomes average and then something else comes along to push the line even further back from what it is today to a point where even those who are doing the grossing out today are tomorrow grossed out by what the next generation is going to bring on.
That's how it works isn't it? We've said that before there are things that go on in our society, things that we see on television that 50 years ago we would have never ever thought. It was a big hullabaloo back in the in the 30s I think when the movie Gone with the Wind came out right Clark Gable almost the last line in the movie what does he say was her name Charlotte? Scarlett that's it, Scarlett he said Scarlett I don't give a you know blank.
And that was shocking I mean it was shocking, whoa is it shocking today? You have people being interviewed on TV shows that use that kind of language with the interviewer, use the f-word imagine in an interview when they're just talking about stuff, use the Lord's name.
Isn't it interesting that you cannot use the word for fecal matter that begins with an S they'll bleep that out of a movie or they'll bleep that out of something you're not allowed to use that movie you'll get an R rating if you use that term, but if you use the term Jesus Christ no problem no problem you can keep your PG-13 rating if you use the name of the Lord.
Now the purpose of all of this grossing out I believe is to break free of every restraint, every order, every line originally established by God and get to the point where Genesis said, the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually, Genesis 6:5.
I mean how do you think those people back then got to where they were? Where every thought an intention of their heart where evil how do you think they got to that point? Well they got to it by pushing the line of propriety pushing it back and back and back generation after generation.
Christians sometimes we become discouraged because it appears that it only just gets worse right, it gets more gross as time goes on and as Christians many times we wonder if it's ever going to stop, especially now with the internet.
I mean wow there's just no end to the gross material that is out there that people consume we're like we get discouraged like how can we win? I think we can take courage however in the battle between godly and gross, I think we can take courage because God has made us three promises that guarantee that gross will never win out over godly even though it sure looks it at times.
So here they are, gross versus God this time I'm going to switch it around okay, godly versus gross three reasons why gross is not going to win out in the long run:
Promise #1 - The Word of God will never fail
Isaiah says, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8. The purpose of gross is to cross the line that marks what is pure and good and decent and right, the goal of gross is to eliminate what is godly and to replace it with whatever man wants to replace it with and many times that's something which is gross.
Now the world can cross the line that God establishes with His word but the world cannot erase the line that God has established, there's a big difference. They can cross the line but they can't erase the line.
This is an important difference. Long after what is fashionably gross long after it becomes a relic of another age, the word of God will continue to be the standard by which God and believers will judge what is right and what is wrong, what is gross and what is godly.
What I'm saying to you is that gross will never become the standard because you will never be able to erase the standard which is God's word. Eventually mankind yearns to find the center again, eventually mankind desires to know what is true and pure and correct and when that time comes the world will search and it will find it, where? It'll find it right here, just like it has found it in every generation since this book was given to it.
The world will not find the standard on YouTube or Facebook the world will find the standard only in God's Word so don't be discouraged the Word of God will never fail.
Promise #2 - The church will never fail
Jesus said, "..upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." Matthew 16:18. See one thing is for sure gross does not come from God, we know that. Godly behavior is the opposite of gross as Paul explains in Ephesians 5:3-6 let me read that for you Paul says, "but immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you as is proper among the saints, and there must be no filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting which are not fitting but rather giving of thanks for this you know with certainty that no immoral or impure person or covetous man who is an idolaters an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
" As a matter of fact Paul warns the Ephesians not to be seduced into thinking that God will not punish such behavior, we're always thinking boy God will go after Hitler all right that guy he's going to get judged and Pol Pot in Cambodia hundreds of thousands of people put to death, the Khmer Rouge you know oh God will take care of him you know in Stalin and all the real bad guys in the world right we know God's going to take care of those guys the murderers, but the inspired Apostle Paul here says not just the murderers, not just the rapists, but the gross ones who have tried to erase God's line and standard with their own grossness, they too will be judged.
And he says don't be mistaken don't get fooled don't get fooled into thinking that there is not going to be a judgment for blasphemy, for taking God's name in vain, for advancing an agenda of grotesque words and images and ideas don't think for a second that there will not be judgment because of that.
The danger is not just being gross the danger is thinking that God doesn't care about gross, but Paul reminds them, the church, that God cares very much about gross. All this to say that gross it comes from Satan, it comes from the world, it comes from the Antichrist, it comes from sin.
The power of evil in any of its forms has always been in the world. You know gross that's nothing new, in Ephesians 5:11-12 Paul refers to things that are so gross that Christians were not even to talk about them.
Probably he's referring to the public sexual orgies of the time, secret rituals and other practices of pagan religions of that era, not to mention the grossness of the slave trade and prostitution and cruelty to children and elderly all these things being practiced in the first century in that pagan society; don't even talk about those things he says don't even bring them up.
And through all this evil Jesus has promised that the church will not fall, that's the point I'm making here, nations will fall, governments will change, leaders will come and go, the tide of morality will a band flow, from high to dismally and grossly low, that just keeps turning and turning, but the church he says will survive and it has survived through all of these changes.
So the message is: don't be discouraged by how gross the world is, be encouraged by how godly the church is despite the gross things that are in the world, be encouraged by that, that you can come to a place that you can have fellowship with a group of people that think like you think, that want to revere the Word of God and the person of God and the things of God and the practices of God and the people of God, that all of these things are important to you, that's called piety by the way, so that you can unashamedly and absolutely openly practice your pious faith and worship with fellow believers who think in the very same way, think about that, rejoice in that, don't be discouraged by the grossness that's in the world, what else do you expect from the world? Don't ever expect the world to act as Christians act, they're not believers.
Promise #3 - The Holy Spirit will never fail
The Word will never fail, the church will never fail, the Holy Spirit will never fail. John the Apostle said,
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you then he who is in the world.
- John 4:4.
It seems that the enemy has all the best weapons, I mean they have the glossy magazines and they have the multi-million dollar studios and you've got sites that push all kinds of crazy nasty things that have two million views some actress somewhere decides to show her body in public and wow she gets five million views while we're struggling to get the gospel out there and we get maybe five thousand views, that gets discouraging.
And the world and all of the glittery people in the world they get the attention of the younger generation who think well it's much cooler to be gross than to be godly, not all and not all the time, but that's always the temptation.
The biggest obstacle many times for our young people is they don't want to be considered dorky because they're Christians, the peer pressure around them that says you're a Christian you go to church you practice and really strive for sexual purity and the things that you say and the things that you look at the things that you do you're a dork, you're a nerd, you're not cool, you can't be one of us.
Now if you're 50 years old that doesn't bother you much but if you're 15 years old that hurts that hurts a lot. I want those people the young ones and the older ones to remember something: remember that Christians have something that gross cannot provide and that is a promise that cannot fail, a promise that through God's word they have access to the truth, a promise that when they pray to God He actually hears them, a promise that their sins are truly forgiven and they are at peace with God.
They might not fit in with the in group in ninth grade but they fit in with the master and creator of the universe and they have a promise that when they die they will resurrect and live with God forever and ever and ever in heaven.
Gross cannot make those promises but godly can. And the Holy Spirit that lives inside of all of us, He will make all of these promises He will make them happen. Paul says,
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance.
- Ephesians 1:13
The Holy Spirit living in you is the first taste of heaven that all of us receive, the Holy Spirit living in us will be the power that will accomplish all of the promises and more that I've mentioned tonight.
Several years ago there was a TV commercial for I think it was AT&T a telephone company and I remember Tom Selleck the actor, Magnum P.I. Blue Bloods that actor Tom Selleck, he was doing the voice over and they showed pictures of somebody sitting on the beach with their phone their smartphone and Tom Selleck was saying have you ever thought of sending a fax from the beach or talking to somebody on your watch you will and AT&T is the company that will bring it to you, that was a good commercial.
Well Paul the Apostle is saying, have you thought of being sinless and pure, have you thought of being perfectly happy, have you ever thought of living forever? You will and the Holy Spirit is the person who will bring it to you; that's our commercial.
The power of the Holy Spirit to shine the bright light of Christ through your life and through your actions and especially through your resurrection will never fail no matter how gross things get in the world.
Don't have confidence in yourself and don't let the power of gross gross you out, allow the power of Christ that lives in you through the Holy Spirit lift you up in order to overpower what is gross in this world and to shine a light in the dark places that gross inhabits in this world.
From the beginning of time mankind has had to choose between what was gross and what was godly, in Acts 19:19 Luke speaks about those who had practiced the secret and often gross secret arts of ancient magic and he tells in Acts 19 he tells of how these men burned their expensive books of magic as a very public way and a very definite way of demonstrating that they had chosen the godly over the gross, they burned those things those evil those those dark things those things of magic they got rid of those things, and you know what? The choice remains before us today in the same way except that we are bombarded with the gross and to choose the godly means that we have to do away with a lot more than one or two secret books, it means we have to have a little more care when we handle the remote it's not who handles the remote it's how you handle the remote that's important.
It means sorting through your music and your video and your print libraries to delete what is gross. It means a decision to hold the line in a world where we are constantly pressured to accept gross as cool.
Christians have the responsibility given by God to be the ones by whom what as godly is judged, if we become gross how will the world know what godly is, how will God know we are His godly ones when He comes if we act and think and watch and do all the gross things that the people in the world do? My point is there's got to be a difference, why do you think Jesus uses the metaphor you're the light? Because light is noticeable, you can see it when there's a light in a dark place.
And so my message is to exhort you: be that light. And if there's anything gross in your life that darkens or hides that light, get rid of it. I mean today we don't have to burn our CDs, we don't have to burn our computers we just hit a button right delete this is junk delete delete delete delete I was toying around with this and this is pretty much on the line delete delete delete, that's how we clean up our act.
Let's clean up our act, let's make sure people know that we are the godly ones not the gross ones. Aside from that I appeal to you to choose godly over gross I appeal to you to burn whatever is gross in your lives and your possession get rid of it show God that you want to be godly and not gross, remember gross doesn't get you to heaven but godly does.
And I appeal to those who need to be restored or to be baptized and wash away the grossness of sin, tonight's a good night to confess your faith in Christ. The elders are here to pray for you, the ministers are here to minister to you, the church is here to hear your confession of faith and baptize you, we're ready to minister to anyone who needs to put off gross and put on godly.
Please think about that while we stand and as we sing our song of encouragement.