Called To Be Yourself - 7:17-24

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:00
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Colored pencils
All of these are different.
They were made that way.
The only way to have a good picture is to use all the colors.
What if you grab a blue pencil but it says, I'm green today? How useful is that?
Or they say, I'll only work for you if you use the grip I like.
The last person who used me broke my lead. So I'm not going to take that chance again. I'm done being used.
How effectively will you be able to color the picture in this situation?
We need the colors to be right, we need them to work, and we need them do what they were designed to do.
We have been designed by God to be what He wants us to be.
He has designed us to be used.
We will be most useful, blessed, and content when we are functioning according to His design doing what He has called us to do.
We get into trouble when we believe that we can only serve Christ when our circumstances are right.
That is the lie our enemy will tell. Why? He doesn’t want us to be useful, blessed, or content.
So he tells us that happiness is our highest goal, and that happiness depends on perfect circumstances. He will then lead us on a lifelong pursuit of happiness that can never be attained!
Old song: Happiness is the Lord.
Here is the thought that I believe is the foundation for our passage today.
Service for Christ does not require a change in circumstance.
If this happens I will serve.
When this happens I will be able to serve.
If we are not serving now, we will not serve no matter how our circumstances may change.
Effective service demands that we follow two commands.
These two commands sum up all that Paul says here.
Command #1…

1. Be Obedient vv. 17-20

How many loved hearing that as a kid?
Do we really like it any better now?
And yet, this is what Scripture demands.
If we are going to obey…
We have to understand what obedience is.
What is obedience? OR How do we obey?
Three components to obedience.
Component #1.
An obedient believer will…

a. Submit v. 17

1 Corinthians 7:17 NKJV
17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.
The Greek word here translated “distributed” appears as “assignment” in most other translations.
The word means to “divide, deal out, or apportion.” The idea is of God giving to each of us our share or assignment.
Distributed - go back to colored pencils.
God has chosen to have all these different colors.
Why? To make a perfect picture.
God doesn't give all the colors to any one person.
We're not like that pen that you could select the color.
We're a box of colored pencils.
He gives you this color and me a different color.
If we want to make a color we don't have, we have to work together!
God distributed, He separated the colors and gave them to us.
The only way to have an accurate picture of God and His work is when each of us uses the gift we have been given.
Paul writes here that God has given to each of us an assignment and a calling.
God has placed us where He wants us. That is where we walk.
The word “walk” has the idea of our manner of life.
We conduct our lives according to the assignment and call of God!
What do we call that?
We call it obedience.
God has distributed, Paul has ordained.
What does this tell us?
Obedience begins with submission.
This passage implies two authorities to whom we are to submit ourselves.

i. To the Lord

As God has distributed, as the Lord has called, so let him walk.
This is submission.
You have an assignment, I have an assignment.
We have a calling.
Live in the assignment and calling God has given!
Don’t be jealous of someone else’s assignment!
Blue vs. Green. Sky & grass.
This is an imperative.
Walk in your calling. Walk in your assignment.
Not optional for the child of God.
We submit ourselves to the Lord.
Secondly. We submit…

ii. To the leadership

Paul commands that believers walk in the calling and assignment of God.
We obey God, and we obey the leadership He has placed over us.
In context, the topic is marriage and sexuality.
Paul is saying, don’t seek to change your status.
God called you just as you are.
He gave you an assignment.
Serve right where you are.
If we are going to serve where God has placed us there is something we must do.
That is our lesson here.
Submit to God’s sovereign placement.
He has placed you where He wants you. He has given you the gifts He wanted you to have.
Submit to God, and serve Him.
We are called to be obedient.
Three components to obedience.
Component #1.
An obedient believer will submit.
Component #2.
An obedient believer will…

b. Focus vv. 18-19

1 Corinthians 7:18 NKJV
18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised.
Verse 17 = statement of principle.
Here he gives some application.
If God called you as a circumcised Jew, don’t start living like a Gentile.
If God called you as an uncircumcised Gentiles, don’t try to live like a Jew.
Why not?
Because God called you and assigned you exactly how you are!
This is a matter of focus.
Don’t be distracted by arguments like this.
Don’t get caught up in debates about circumcision or anything else that has no bearing on your salvation!
We are not here to win people to circumcision!
We are here to win people to Christ!
Stay focused on the goal!
You can serve Jesus right where you are.
You can work for Him being who you are.
He called you He gave an assignment to you.
Walk the path He’s leading you down.
We cannot walk the path God has called us to if we are focused on the wrong thing!
Obedience demands proper focus.
Look at verse 19.
1 Corinthians 7:19 NKJV
19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
In Paul’s day, circumcision was a big deal.
It was part of the covenant God made to Abraham, it was tied to your identity as a Jew.
A lot was attached to it.
To say it is nothing was scandalous.
Here’s the point Paul is making.
Identification is not as important as obedience.
You may think that your national identity is the most important thing about you.
Or maybe it’s your politics, or your skin color, or your sexuality, or your job, or your abilities or disabilities.
Listen to what Paul is saying to each one of us.
The most important thing is your obedience to Christ.
You have been called. Obey your calling.
You have been given an assignment, a task to accomplish. Fulfill your assignment.
Don’t be distracted by the temporary and fleeting.
Many of the things that consume us in this life will not matter in eternity.
Live out your calling. Fulfill your assignment.
Focus on the task you have been given.
Here’s two things very important to remember and know.
1 - God has uniquely gifted you for your task.
2 - Your greatest fulfillment and satisfaction will be found in serving Christ.
Please note what I did not say.
I did not promise that it will be easy. It won’t. It will be the hardest thing you will ever do. In fact, you won’t be able to do it without depending on the Lord!
It will be hard.
It will be painful.
But my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, when we stand in His presence, believe me, it will be worth it.
We are called to be obedient.
Three components to obedience.
Component #1.
An obedient believer will submit.
Component #2.
An obedient believer will focus.
Component #3.
An obedient believer will…

c. Endure V. 20

Let’s pull our colored pencils out again.
No one uses white. It is basically pointless in most cases.
The white colored pencil feels useless. Why was I made this way. I would be so much more useful if…
Haven’t we had those thoughts?
My life would be so much easier if… fill in the blank.
If I was a Jew, if I was a Gentile, if I was married to a believer, if I wasn’t married at all.
Does God make mistakes?
Did He mess up when He called you?
Look at verse 20.
1 Corinthians 7:20 NKJV
20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.
Notice that it isn’t about location, but calling.
A calling is bigger than a place, it is bigger than where you are.
A calling is about the use of your gifts.
This colored pencil is white for a very specific purpose.
The Spiritual gift you have, the talents and abilities that make you who you are were all chosen by God for a specific purpose!
Remain in your calling!
This is a command.
Use your gifts!
You have an assignment.
Do what God has called you to do.
Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible 2. The basic principle 7:17–24

Our calling as Christians, to bear witness to Jesus Christ, is more important than our calling in life, namely the place we occupy in the social, economic, and geographical scheme of things.

This is not about your vocation, it is about who you are. Nationality, gender etc.
Culture says be true to yourself.
Woman who feels like a man? Be a man.
Man who feels like a woman? Be a woman.
Feel like neither one, don’t choose.
Paul is saying that God did not make a mistake when He created you and me and when He called us.
He chose your nationality. He chose the color of your skin. He chose everything about you.
Circumstances do not determine your ability to serve Jesus!
Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called!
Endure! Stay the course. Wait on the Lord and trust Him for the grace and strength to keep serving no matter the circumstances.
God’s grace is sufficient for you and me!
We are obedient when we endure.
Endurance is only possible as we trust the God who called us.
God has called you! He has placed you! Serve Him! Endure.
He has a reason, plan, and purpose.
We are called to be obedient.
Three components to obedience.
Component #1.
An obedient believer will submit.
Component #2.
An obedient believer will focus.
Component #3.
An obedient believer will endure.
Effective service demands that we follow two commands.
These two commands sum up all that Paul says here.
Command #1. Be Obedient.
Command #2…

2. Be Consistent vv. 21-24

Consistency and coloring.
What happens as a pencil is used?
Grows dull. For consistency, we sharpen it.
The process of sharpening is not comfortable.
Tempted to roll off the table.
Then look up at the artist and ask why He’s so far away.
Why doesn’t He care?
Why does He let me hurt?
We rolled off the table.
We didn’t trust Him!
Yes the process of sharpening hurts, but it is necessary for my usefulness.
I cannot be useful, I cannot be effective, if I am not consistent.
This has application in our Spiritual lives.
Consistency is necessary for growth and effective service.
What does consistency look like?
Here in this passage Paul gives us two pictures of consistency.
Picture #1.
A consistent believer will…

a. Disregard status vv. 21-23

These three verses touch on a rather difficult issue.