GOD OUR ONLY MASTER
No man can serve two masters. (St. Matt. vi. 24)
THE Lord Jesus Christ shews in these words that God alone is to be served, and that no one is to be obeyed in opposition to God, and that no one is to be hindered from serving God. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. (St. Matt. iv. 10) There are five reasons on account of which we ought to serve God.
But all things serve God in a three-fold manner.
(1) By precepts given to them from the Creator Himself for their fulfilling. He hath also established them for ever and ever; He bath made a decree which shall not pass," (Ps. cxlviii. 6)
The Creator has made all things through His Word. Thus every nature is given the capacity to obey the Law imposed upon it by God’s Word or Precept, according to its capacity. Most creatures follow laws that they cannot violate. Angels and men are given knowledge and free will with which to know God and obey Him.
(2) In punishing those that rebel against the Creator.
Those who know God and willingly disobey Him are punished. Thus they serve His Law and reveal its power. Those angels who have disobeyed are forever alienated and divided from God. Man is alienated and separated by reason of the Fall of Adam, but may repent and return to God. But his repentance includes this punishment –that the habit of sin resists God’s Grace. Man’s punishment is the sin itself and the power that it gains over him while he is battling to surrender to God’s will. In this way man’s punishment reveals God’s Law. Man is subject unto it until he dies.
(3) In shewing kindnesses to His friends. For the creature that serveth Thee, Who art the Maker, increaseth his strength against the unrighteous for their punishment, and abateth his strength for the benefit of such as put their trust in Thee. (Wis. xvi. 24)
On the one hand, the creation resists the proud and arrogant man and punishes him for his disobedience to God. This comes to pass because the creation is treated as a false god and thus can do nothing less than disappoint and frustrate a man who wrongly divinizes it. On the other hand, creation is less resistant and more pliant to the man who uses her aright and sees her only as a means to deeper union with the Maker.
But the Lord possesses in us a three-fold right.
(1) The right of creation. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture. (Ps. xlv. 9.)
God possesses us because He has made us. God alone has decreed a Law for our being. We are His by right, and apart from Him we have no meaning or definition.
(2) By the right of purchase. Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold .... but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish. (1 St. Peter i. 18, 19) Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Cor. vi. 20)
God possesses us because He has bought us back, purchased us, and redeemed us through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christ buys us back for the Father with His one offering of Himself once offered, as the only full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. We are God’s in Jesus Christ because He alone pays the price of sin to God. He pays the price by giving the whole of Himself back to God, though sin and death unjustly torture and kill His humanity in a effort to sever Him from the Father. He is the Ransom for sin because He uses it even from His Cross as the means of return to the Father.
(3) By right of the support of life. Who giveth food to all flesh. (Ps. cxxxvi. 25)
God possesses us by right of supporting our lives. In Him we live, and move, and have our being. He is the source and origin or our human perpetuity.
III. Thirdly, we ought to serve God on account of the dignity of serving Him.
We are dignified in being called to serve God. We are ennobled, solemnized, and blessed through the privilege of submitting to God. We are blessed as we are transformed by His Grace into what He intends for us to become.
He confers a three-fold profit in serving Him.
(1) A warlike triumph. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (2 St. Tim. ii. 3); Is there any number of His armies? (Job xxv. 3)
If we are to be dignified and ennobled by God’s Grace we must be battling and warring against evil as the soldiers of Christ. We cannot gain the victory if we are not naming, claiming, denouncing, radically amputating, and grinding to powder every sin in the Name of Jesus and by the power of His Blood. Then we must struggle to surrender to God’s Grace and allow the Holy Spirit to infuse us with holiness and righteousness. This process will be long, hard, grueling, and painful. Only soldiers can keep up the fight and gain the victory.
(2) The priestly dignity. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Rev. v. 10)
The dignity of becoming the hierarchs of the holy priesthood is conferred upon us by Christ the High Priest. We are invited into His Priesthood and His offering. His Priesthood is the Eternally Begotten Nature of His Divinity. He offering is the temporally generated sacrifice of His humanity. We are invited to become one with the Priest and His Sacrifice. Our future is that we shall reign as priests over the creation that will be perfected and reconciled to Him.
(3) Regal majesty. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. (1 St. Peter ii. 9) For to serve God is to reign.
We are called to reign with Christ. This means that if the Father rules and governs us through Jesus Christ, the Word, and by the Holy Ghost, we too shall reign and rule with Him. Being ruled and governed by God, we shall be dignified with the right to rule and govern the New Creation. We shall be rewarded with an eternalized human nature that is right with God and the whole of the Creation.
A three-fold necessity is laid upon us to serve God.
(1) Because he who is unwilling to serve God subjects himself to the servitude of his enemies.
If we do not need to serve God, we shall become the servants of His enemies. His enemies are collectively deprived of all meaning and truthfulness. So we shall be the slaves of sin forever if we do not respond to His desire for our service as what we need. What we certainly do not need is eternal damnation. We should see that this is to be shunned wholly and completely. Thus we need to serve God.
(2) Because he suffers the loss of every good thing.
If we do not need God, we suffer the loss of every good thing. All goodness comes from God. If we do not need Him, we shall be deprived of all goodness. Thus we shall be deprived of everlasting being that finds its meaning in, with, and through God.
(3) Because he is altogether weighed down under manifold miseries.
If we do not need God we shall not only lose all good things, but we shall be chained and enslaved to everlasting miseries. We shall hunger, thirst, be naked, in want of all things, and shall be punished perpetually if we do not need God.
Of course we serve God for our advantage. If it were not for God, we would find no advantage to life as Fallen Men. Our first advantage is that He longs to snatch us up and rescue us from our enemies. He desires to save us from those demons that would trample down the plantation of His Grace in our souls. So if we reach out to Him, He will rescue us from our enemies. We must remember, however, that it may not feel like a successful liberation at first since the Devil is still bruising our heels. But if we are patient we shall crush his head. (Gen. iii. 15)
(2) Ineffable exultation of heart. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing. (Ps. c. 2)
When we serve God we shall find the progressive growth of gladness, joy, and delight in our hearts. As His Holy Spirit sanctifies us, we shall grow in the knowledge and then the love of God. We shall experience the effects of His Goodness and shall then long for more and more of His healing love in our lives.
(3) The eternal fruition of all joys. Behold, My servants shall eat, but ye shall
be hungry ; behold, My servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold, My servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed ; behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart. (Is. lxv. 13, 14) Where I am there also shall My servant be. (St. John xii. 26) For Jesus was at the right hand of the Father, that is in the highest good things of the Father, and there will He place those who serve Him. Blessed is that servant whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that He shall make him
ruler over all His goods. (St. Matt. xxiv. 46, 47) Well done, good and faithful servant .... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. (St. Matt. xxv. 23) To this joy may we be brought. May we thus serve the Lord out of absolute necessity. May we thus realize that if we don’t we shall not be saved. Amen.
St. Michael and All Angels Sermons