Sanctity of Life | Ephesians 5:8-13
Topic: Stand Alone Passage: Ephesians 5:8–5:13
Sanctity of Life Sunday 2014
Good morning! We have been preaching through the book of Matthew on the arrival and reign of King Jesus and will continue off and on for the next several months. This morning we are going to take a break from that series to acknowledge the significance of dark milestone in our country, how the church is to respond according to God word, and how the gospel shines light on this darkness.
41 years ago this week 9 men dressed in black robes, with legal authority, declared that every state in our country must provide access, without restrictions, for all women to abort their children up to their birth. In response, 30 years ago on the 11th anniversary of Roe V Wade, President Ronald Reagan established a National Sanctity of Human Life Day. In a speech in on abortion he said "Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." He was famous for saying “I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”
Why Preach on this?
Why do you have to get all political, this is church? For Christians, those who have pledged their allegiance to Jesus and are citizens of His kingdom, there is no such thing as merely “political issues”. The gospel of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, means He is to rule and reign in all aspects of our personal, public, and corporate lives so EVERYTHING is a gospel issue and some have political implications.
Ephesians 5:8-13 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 ……. 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
We, the church, the people of God in Christ are to walk in light. That means we are NOT to take part in that which is dark, which is “unfruitful” (nothing could be as “unfruitful work” as abortion). But God calls us to more than simple abstention or avoidance of evil works. He calls us to “instead expose them”. When light is shined into darkness the shamefulness of what is being done can be seen. Proverbs 31:8 Open your mouth for the mute, The unborn are mute, we are to be the voice to the voiceless so silence and inaction on this issue is not an option for Christians. So churches need to preach on this issue because we have to be reminded that mother’s shouldn’t kill their children and that fathers should not abandon mothers and children and that human life is valuable. I share in the prayer of Dr. Russell Moore that someday soon Scantity of Human Life Day is unnecessary because these truths are universally known and upheld, but that day is not hear so we have to respond to the lies of this world.
What is the state of the world?
We have bought a lie that somehow being given, or participating in the creation of new life is bondage to be cast off; and is all about a women’s body and her right to decide what lives and dies with in it.
“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body, [and] until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” [Birth Control, including Abortion] Is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives. Margret Sanger, Fonder of what became Planned Parenthood
Men rallied around this because it fostered an environment of sexual freedom without parental responsibility. But freedom always comes with a price; this freedom is paid with the blood of the unborn.
If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. Florynce Kennedy/Gloria Stienem 1971
We have made abortion the sacrament for a society that worships themselves as god and the idol of sex.
Psalm 106:36-38 36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons 38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.
The work and agenda of abortive organizations like Plan Parenthood is dark and needs to be exposed. Their whole philosophy has been birthed out of population control, reducing poor populations, and racism, even recently claiming “abortion..elevates the black community.” Plan Parenthood’s annual report in 2010 uses the word “abortion” 35 times while “mother” or “father”do not appear once. This year in Fort Worth TX, they opened a $7million “state of the art” facility directly across the street from one of the largest adoptions centers in Texas. Planned Parenthood is not FOR parenthood, planned or otherwise.
But their work has become part of a new national religion since abortion was made legal 41 years ago:
§ 1-1.5 million abortions in the US every year, 3k every day, as many people were killed on 9/11
§ 22% of all pregnancies end in abortion. 1 in 7 abortions are paid for by state tax dollars
§ 1,800 abortion providers; same as the number of Target stores in the US.
§ Since Roe v Wade over 55 million abortions have been performed, 5x the Nazi Holocaust
We have more legal protections for preborn animals then our children. Since 1973, there has been a robust protection law forbidding the harming of any bald or golden eagle egg with a 1st offense carrying up to a year in jail and $5k fine and up to $250k for repeat offenders.
Washington State, our state, was the first to legalize abortion by a popular vote in 1970.
§ One of only 17 states that use tax dollars to pay for poor women to have abortions.
§ 25k are preformed per year, average of 70 per day, 12th in total preformed and 9th in rate.
§ Parental Consent is required a schools to give a student an aspirin but no parental notification is required for that same student to receive an abortion.
Americans United for Life, for the 5th year in a row ranked Washington the MOST Pro-Abortion state in the US in terms of laws advocating FOR abortion and regulations restricting the work of life affirming agencies like the Pregnancy Resource Center; not California, or New York, our state! We have been leading NATION down this path for decades. Washington even leads in a new category. The largest individual award given in a law suit in state history ($50million) is for a “wrongful birth” claim filed by a Renton couple who “love” their 5 ½ year old mentally disabled son Oliver, but sued Valley Medical Center and a testing lab for not catching the genetic disorder so they could terminate the pregnancy.
Exodus 4: 11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
This is not an “out there” issue avoided, for the church it is very much an “in here” issue to be brought to light. Alan Guttmacher Institute, public education arm of Planned Parenthood, reports that one in six women who have had abortions are evangelical Christians. Each year there are 1.5 million American women have an abortion that means as many as 250,000 evangelical Christian women could choose to abort a child this year, that is why we have to talk about this. The world will not begin to move on this issue until the church is able to stop following the flow of the world and start leading.
How do we excuse ourselves from this? We simply believe the lie that the child in the womb is less than fully human. When we dehumanize humans as a society we allow atrocious things to be done to them.
Eric Metaxas – “In Wilberforce’s day, going with the flow meant supporting slavery, and that Africans are not fully human. In Bonhoeffer’s world, in Nazi Germany, it meant supporting the idea that Jews are not fully human. So who do we say is not fully human today?” The answer is obvious, the not yet born.
“There is inescapable schizophrenia in aborting a perfectly normal 22 week fetus while at the same hospital, performing intra-uterine surgery on its cousin” (Steve Calvin).
We keep moving the goal post for what is a human life farther and farther out. In October a teenager girl was found with a dead newborn in a bag in a Victoria Secrets store in NYC. Sad, sadder still is the AP article repeatedly(6x) referred to the child, born alive, as a fetus and only once used the word baby.
Romans 12:2 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Our hearts need to break for the things that break God’s heart. We need to be reminded who God is.
Who is the Author of Life? And what is his will?
Psalm 139:13-16 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
We don’t plan parenthood, God plans parenthood. Our action and choices are involved in creating children, but we are not God. God is the source of all life. Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Yes God created turtles, eagles, cows, and dogs but He makes men and women in his image so human life is specifically sacred.
Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent [young, displaying the signs of future potential] life. To raise the question whether we are concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
There is no such thing as an unplanned pregnancy or an unwanted child with God. Our sin is the source of death. God is the author of life. By injecting our will we turn His love story it into our tragedy.
The greek word brephos is the same is used in describing a baby in the womb, one born in a manger.
Ex 21:22-25 22 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. This is one of the strongest civil penalties prescribed in the entire Old Testament and is even greater than the penalty for manslaughter. Apparently God’s word places a tremendous value on the life of the unborn.
We can discuss what seem like moral or biblical dilemmas; like what to do when the life of the mother is threaten, or pregnancies resulting from of rap or abuse. Deut 24:16 16 “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin. What possible good could be birthed from such terrible suffering endured through rape or abuse? What possible good could be birthed from such terrible suffering as Jesus endured on the cross? CDC .1% of abortions are performed to save life of the mother. 1% Rape/Abuse, meaning 99% are elective birth control. There is simply no way possible studying God’s word to minimize the moral wrong, the sin, in the action and heart of abortion. We can agree on what the ideals are and should be. Yet many of our lives betray what our actual values are. We can know the truth, quickly reject it, and willingly chose a lie if it will allow us to impose our will over God ordained circumstances.
Saul/Paul and the Damascus Road - My story/His Story
March my senior year of college, my girlfriend at the time gave me the news we had gotten pregnant. She vigorously laid out a case that “we could make it work” my own selfishness, fear, persuasion lead us (all three) to only one option. So early on a Thursday we had skipped our classes to drive to a nondescript strip mall miles away from campus. As we walk into the Planned Parenthood office, not unlike the one I had marched at with a church group 7 years earlier, the dark irony of the moment was not lost on me. I had led us that place both figuratively and literally. With the pregnancy only 8 weeks along the worker told us the easiest way to terminate, and thus avoid all the consequences, was a pill that would cause her to miscarry. It seemed simple enough to “end our problem” I paid the bill, and she swallowed the pill. We stopped for lunch on the way back to campus. During the quite meal she placed a pinky-nail-size piece of lettuce from her burger on my tray and said, “according to my health textbook it’s this size now.” At the time it seemed to be of some comfort because the same book said it didn’t have a nervous system yet and couldn’t feel pain. That made it better right? The text book was outdated, I know now all the limbs, nervous system were formed, and even gender determined. Our afternoon and evening was spend in her apartment as she dealt with heavy cramping, frequent trips to the bathroom, and tears. When her roommates came home l ran back to my fraternity with the lame lie of “homework” no longer able to face the reality of the road I had led us down. But it was a party night. So sat drinking listening to blaring music in a crowed boisterous room I felt detached and isolated, not just from the group but from myself. Everyone was enthralled in their revelry, and I played the part of happy frat boy well enough, that no one knew the conflict, condemnation, pain, and fear that was churning just below the surface. Constant thoughts beat in my head louder than the music, “How could I have done this? What’s wrong with me? How was I capable of this? How could I be so selfish? How did I let things get so out of control? How could I be so weak?” As conflicted and broken as I was, I know the inner turmoil had to be even worse for my girlfriend as she cried with her roommate down the block. Later that night the pregnancy, that life, was painfully over. Two weeks later so was our relationship.
Acts 7:58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 8:1,3 1And Saul approved of his execution. I didn’t perform the procedure but I approved and orchestrated the execution. Saul held the coats, I held the purse. Years of guilt, shame, sexual sin, self-doubt, and condemnation followed. Who was I? How could I do this? I wasn’t capable of this was I? I am not as bad as those people? How did I get to this point? My entire life before this I had vigorously articulated the Pro-Life position given any opportunity. The semester previous I had written a paper for a Supreme Court class on why Roe v. Wade should be overturned. My pro-choice professor gave it an A. Abortion was for people that didn’t want to face the consequences given the same circumstances I would never make that choice. What hypocrisy! What self-righteousness!
Acts 9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
See looking back I know, like a dog to vomit, I would engage in the same sins over and over leading down the same road leading to pain and possible destruction for others and certainly when Saul was going down the Damascus Road he wasn’t just going to harm others, unchanged that road would ultimately lead to his destruction as well. Jesus had to intervene in Saul’s life to change his motives, his actions, and his whole identity, from Saul to Paul. He even commissions him for ministry.
Acts 9: 13- 16 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
Jesus forgives those crucifying him, Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He can forgive those who murder their children, even those who knew what they were doing. When we worship ourselves we will kill our children to preserve our temporary lifestyle. Christians worship the God whose Son was killed to ensure our abundant life in eternity. Because God loves us and is a good Father.
Psalm 103 8-13 8The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
This sounds so good but how can a good God who is clear abortion is sin just simply just forgive something so horrible I couldn’t conceive of forgiving myself? How can I have freedom without the cost of that freedom being paid? And what about the burden of shame? Aren’t you letting yourself off the hook too easily? Jacob Appel (bioethicist) began avocation for an abortion pride movement in 2009. “Women who step up to the ethical plate and have the strength to say, ‘This is the wrong time,’ or ‘This is the wrong fetus,’ should hold their heads high in the streets. And our society should be proud of them too. Our message should be … genuine joy that someone has made a decision for their own and for the collective good.” And so Planned Parenthood launch the “I am not sorry” campaign where you could buy a T-Shirt that said “I had an abortion” to wear proudly to show other you are proud of participating in the death of your child. I understand a motivation that recognizes abortion caries shame no one wants to bear, but the answer is wrong.
I want our shame gone we need our shame gone because of Christ we are now light and can expose our works to other that many consider the same road. Don’t let your shame lead to silence neither let it lead to pride let it be turned to light by Christ on the cross.
Hebrews 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God
Jesus hates the sin and hates our shame even more than we do and he takes it.
When we stand before God no T-shirt that says “I am not sorry” will do you any good. We have blood on our hands and we can only be washed clean by the blood from His cross.
Tim Keller - I'm so bad that Jesus had to die for me, yet I'm so loved that Jesus was glad to die for me.
I had no concept of the depth of my own selfishness, no respect of my own ability to blind myself, no understanding of total depravity or sinfulness. Like most of us, I didn’t have a healthy, biblical, FEAR of myself. Understanding the scope and depth of our depravity and brokenness leads us to the Gospel, reinforces our need for the Cross, and drives us to community and accountability with other believers.
It was not until the truth of the Gospel finally penetrated the stone wall around my heart that I had spent years building with legalism, shame, pride, and self-righteousness, that my eyes were opened to how sinfully I am and how unable I am on my own to “handle” it. I learned that if I was capable of avoid sin and selfness on my own and able follow God’s law Jesus Christ wouldn’t have to die on the Cross in my place. But he did suffer and die paying our price, my price, when we’ve done nothing to deserve it. I rely only on his righteousness and no my own. He rose again so I don’t have to be a slave to my own sin and depravity. I am now obedient to him not out of obligation, or self-serving pride, but out of a heartfelt response to the grace he has given me. I know that any perseverance or growth I experience is not of my own, but buy the Holy Spirit who, as Philippians 1:6 says, will bring to completion the good work that he began in me.
Years after that dark March, because of the Cross, life looks dramatically different. While not minimizing my past sin, there has been reconciliation with my ex-girlfriend as God has been at work repairing our hearts. We have each been granted loving spouses and been entrusted with children to care for. Not every day is easy or perfect, but I fear myself enough that I no longer live under the delusion that “I can handle it.” Rather, I rest knowing that Christ already has.
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”1Timothy 1:15