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The Rev. Dr. S. Randall Toms: “The Danger of Partial Obedience” (Mark 6)

February 26, 2010

The sermon The Danger of Partial Obedience, from the Rev. Dr. S. Randall Toms of St. Paul’s REC in Louisiana, asks a tough question: When you see the things of this world, will you be like Herod, or like St. Paul? In this sermon, based on Mark 6 and 2 Corinthians 11, Fr. Toms talks about the danger of partial obedience (like Herod):

During Lent, we are often made painfully aware of these two strong natures pulling in opposite directions.  We find in ourselves a desire to obey God, and at the same time, the desire to follow our own desires.  Years ago I heard a preacher who said that most people have just enough religion to make them miserable.  They have just enough religion to let them know that what they are doing is wrong, but it doesn’t give them enough power to quit.    As we examine ourselves during the season of Lent, we often find ourselves miserable because we realize how weak we are when it comes to resisting sin.  But Lent is not profitable to us if it only makes us miserable.  We must come out of the Lenten season with the power of the resurrected Christ who rose from the dead to deliver us from both the guilt of sin and the power of sin.  If the season of Lent does not result in a resolve to truly repent, a resolve to give up even the most darling of our sins, if it does not result in sincere, agonizing prayer to be delivered from all our sins, then, like Herod, our “doing many things” will only result in making us more hardened in our hearts.  Nothing hardens us so much as being convicted for our sins, and then refusing to repent of those sins.  During this season of Lent, let Herod’s life and hardness of heart stand as a warning to us of the danger of hanging on to the things of this world.  Let us set the example of the Apostle Paul before us, who truly meant it when he said, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8, NIV).  When you see the things of this world, will you be like Herod, or like St. Paul?  Will the things of this world be everything, or will you, like St. Paul, see them as rubbish when compared to knowing Christ?

Is the cost of obedience too great compared to the gain that is Christ?  Apparently Herod thought so, and lost all, while the Apostle Paul counted the things of this world as rubbish – and gained Heaven.  This is definitely a message worth reading from Fr. Toms.

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