What’s Your Quest? I. Definition of this Quest A. Introduction 1. As we stand at the cusp of a new year I would like ask you the question “What is your Quest?” B. Definition 1. By “Quest” I mean what the Bible describes as the fundamental desire that motivates a person to a purposeful and determined lifestyle. 2. It is the foundational desire that lies at the root of all our plans and pursuits. 3. We find our Lord illustrating this in Matt 13:45-46 when He says: Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. a) Here is a man in love with pearls. b) He greatly desires their beauty and counts them to be the thing of greatest value and worth. c) Therefore, he scours the globe looking for that perfect pearl, and finding it is willing to give up all that he has to obtain it. d) Here you see a man with a purpose. His purpose causes him to order his life in such a way that he may best accomplish that purpose. e) So his life takes on a certain slant - He spends lots of time at the wharf talking to fishermen. f) Wherever he goes he is thinking about pearls and has an eye out for them. g) In short he is on a quest for pearls. 4. Paul illustrated the same idea in his first letter to the Corinthians when he said: a) Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. (1Co 9:24-25) b) Paul has in mind those who trained as Olympic athletes. c) They were on a quest for the prize in the athletic games so they built their lives around that purpose. d) They had such a deep desire to win the prize they were willing to suffer strict diet, and constant arduous training to obtain it. II. Everyone Has a Quest A. Everyone has a quest even if they don’t realize it. 1. What is that foundational desire that defines your life this morning? 2. What is that one fundamental affection and purpose in life that causes you to live as you do and serves as the primary motivator behind all your pursuits?
2 B. I Don’t have one 1. I can imagine someone at this point thinking to themselves, “I don’t really have a quest of that kind.” 2. There is nothing in my life that drives me to that degree. a) I just kind of float along and try to get by. b) I don’t have enough energy to be on the sort of quest you’re talking about. 3. And who among us hasn’t felt like that, at least at some point in our lives? C. However, it’s really not possible to live without the kind of quest I’m talking about. 1. Every one of us has a quest like this. There is something deep down our hearts that is more important to us than anything else; that gives us purpose and causes us to go about life in the way that we do. 2. We know this to be true because we are made in God’s image as rational creatures. a) As rational creatures we act in purposeful ways. b) Everything we do has some reason behind it. We never really do something for no reason at all. 3. This is absolutely true of our Lord. His every thought and every action serve the only worthy and holy purpose there is – His own GLORY. a) So when He creates the world he does so for His glory. b) When He so loves the world that He sends His Son to die on account of sin, He does so for His glory. c) When He pours out His wrath on the wicked, He does so for His glory. 4. Therefore, you and I also, having been made in His image, our every thought and action serves a foundational underlying purpose in our hearts. 5. We all have a quest whether we recognize it or not. III. There are Only Two Quests in the World A. The Bible tells us there are only two quests in the world, and that they are often very hard to tell apart. 1. In Luke 12 the Lord Jesus gives us something very precious. He contrasts and illustrates for us these two quests in a way that helps us see ourselves in a very clear light.
3 2. Luke 12:15-34 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' 18 So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." ' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' 21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." 22 Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? 29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 32 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. B. Do you see the two quests illustrated and contrasted here? 1. The Rich Man illustrates one quest, while Christ calls His disciples to live in contrast to the Rich Man under a different quest. 2. Remember, we want to discover the foundational desire and affection that lies at the very root of our lives, the core value that determines our motivations and moves us to think and act as we do. a) It is essential that we discover this moral agenda because it determines everything about us. b) It will determine how we talk – For Christ tells us “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” c) It will determine all our actions and choices – For “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” d) In fact it will determine where we will spend eternity!
4 3. So what is motivating the Rich Man in this passage? a) In Vs. 19 we find an expression of his desire – he wants to build up his wealth so he can “take his ease; eat, drink and be merry.” 1) Is that it? Is that the fundamental motivation of his heart which is so abominable to God that He destroys men in hell forever who do such things? 2) Actually – no it’s not. 3) For the saints will do this very thing in Heaven forever. We will sit at the marriage supper of the Lamb, take our ease in Him, and eat, drink and be merry. 4) In fact it’s not only in glorification that we are commended to enjoy these very things, for Solomon tells us to do so now: i. Go, eat your bread with joy, And drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, And let your head lack no oil. (Ecc 9:7-8) b) What then is the object of this Rich Man’s desire that would land his soul in hell that night? 1) It is found in Vs. 21 – The thing he treasured most was himself. 2) The object of his affection; the thing that was most precious to him and that determined his purpose in life was to serve himself. 3) His quest was his own glory. c) It was love for himself that governed all his thoughts and actions. 1) When he was confronted with a bumper crop and having nowhere to put the increase, his prevailing thought was how he could use it for himself. 2) So he sets out to make choices, and order his life in a way that will further his quest. 4. Notice that Christ gave this parable to illustrate His statement in Vs. 15 “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” a) Our Lord is teaching us the true nature of covetousness. b) Covetousness is an evil desire to have what I have for me, and to want what I can get for me. c) This parable doesn’t depict the Rich Man desiring things that belonged to someone else, or things he didn’t already have. d) Aren’t these his own barns that are already full, and his own bumper crop that sprang up as a result of his supposed resourcefulness and diligence – how could that be covetousness? 1) The covetousness our Lord is uncovering here is not just the crass expression of it we normally think of where we want more than we already have. 2) He is showing us that everyone who follows the quest for self is covetous at his core.
5 e) You see, everything this man possessed had been given to him by God. 1) Moses warning Israel not to forget God says in Deu 8:17-18 2) After God has done you good - then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.' "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 3) Not only did this man’s wealth come from the Lord, but His bountiful crops did too. f) And why did God give the Rich man such bountiful gifts? 1) For the same purpose that motivates all His actions, He did it for His own glory. g) But how did the Rich Man respond to the kindness and goodness of God? 1) Was he thankful? – No 2) Was he thoughtful of how he could use this increase for God’s honor and glory? - No 3) Rather, he wrested away the glory that rightfully belonged to God and kept it for himself. 4) Herein, my friends, is the true nature of covetousness. h) So we see the first of these two quests, the pursuit of one’s own glory, and find it is inherently covetous and idolatrous. 5. Christ, however, contrasts for us the other quest that can be pursued in Vs. 33. a) Instead of treasuring self and seeking one’s own glory, Christ calls us to treasure heavenly things and seek His glory. b) A quest for the Glory of God necessarily leads to Vs. 31 - that we should seek His kingdom. 1) If we make God our treasure, and His glory our purpose then we will seek His kingdom. 2) To put it according to Matthew 6:33 – we will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… 3) Seeking God’s glory “first” means it is the matter of highest priority. His honor becomes the motivating factor in all that we seek. c) If our quest is after God, then we won’t be seeking the things of this world, and we won’t be worried about them. 1) Vs. 22 – Do not worry about your life – how to sustain it by food, or your body – how you will clothe it. 2) The one whose quest is his own glory has nothing more to live for than his life and his body. i. Since he does not have power over either, his quest is always uncertain, and he is cast into constant worry.
6 3) But the one whose quest is the glory of God lives for Him who rules over all and cannot change. i. His quest is certain, whether or not his life fails or his body is destroyed. ii. Therefore, he has nothing to worry about, knowing the God whom He serves is merciful and gracious and will care for his life and body in the same generous way He has cared for His soul. iii. God has given His Own Son over to death that we might live, and dressed our soul in the robes of Christ’s righteousness. What else then will He withhold? iv. He who has given you spiritual life, will He not care for your physical life? And He who has dressed your soul so beautifully, will He not care for your body? 4) Even if the Lord should take away his life, the one whose quest is to glorify God will gladly give it - for this is the very purpose for which he lives that he might give his life as a sacrifice to God. i. And if the Lord should deprive Him of ordinary means, he will gladly bear it – for he knows this is His Father’s good pleasure and it serves His glory. ii. Remember Job’s response after he lost everything he owned and all his children – “he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:20-21) iii. And Paul as he knew he was facing persecution and imprisonment says - But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Act 20:24) iv. To Paul there is no controversy between suffering and joy. For Paul has the mind of Christ “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross and despised the shame.” v. For the Christian, joy is not derived from personal comfort, but in laying hold of the purpose for which God has called us – to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. vi. In fact there is no more miserable a person in the world than the Christian who, though he may be experiencing unbounded worldly comforts, is at odds with His Lord. – Just look at Psalm 51, 32 and 38 where David recounts how miserable he was because of his sin.
7 5) So Christ sums up this discourse in Vs. 34 – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” i. You might think of it this way, “Where your affection is, there your mind, will and emotions will be also.” ii. Christ is telling us plainly – Our whole life: every thought, every word, every decision, every action, and every emotion serves our fundamental moral agenda. C. There are only two quests in the world. The well-spring of our heart is either to glorify ourselves, or to glorify God. IV. Only One Quest is Worthy A. And that brings us to the question of how we should choose between them. 1. How will you decide which is best given the fact we live in a world which advocates the moral agenda of the Rich Man is altogether legitimate and acceptable? a) They will tell you it’s perfectly fine for you to live for your own glory, after all, who else is there to live for? b) Is this not the implication of teaching the “survival of the fittest?” 1) Darwinism tells you that your very survival requires you to live for your own glory. B. But only one of these two quests is really worthy of living for. 1. Only one of these quests serves something of intrinsic value. a) Men and women as God’s creatures have value, but their value is derived from God as their maker. We have value because it is He that has made us. b) Christ tells us we are of more value than the birds in Vs. 24, but nowhere implies that we have more value than God. c) It is something like the work of a famous artist such as Van Gogh. His paintings are worth a lot of money just because they were painted by him. (Even if we don’t understand them) – Please don’t that this analogy too far! d) We have value, but we have it only because of Him. 2. In fact outside of Him we would not exist. We, therefore, have no meaning at all apart from God. a) Shall I then deny Him who made me, defines everything about me, and gives me my very meaning in order to serve myself? b) Is it possible to rationally grasp the idea of serving something that would have no meaning without the One I am refusing to serve? c) Isaiah tells us - Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, "He did not make me"? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? (Isa 29:16) d) In fact the whole idea of serving the creature rather than the Creator is absurd on the face of it. e) It is utterly irrational.
8 C. Not only is it absurd, it is also inherently evil. 1. This foundational desire of the heart to seek the glory of self is both the origin and very essence of evil. 2. Isaiah tells us of the rebellion of Satan in Isa 14:12-14 "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' a) Satan’s sin, the first sin, was to exalt himself and seek his own glory rather than keep his proper place before God. 3. Ezekiel tells of his self-love in Eze 28:17 "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; 4. What motivated Satan to rebel against God … It was the love of his own spendor. a) This love of self, caused him to corrupt his wisdom and do what is utterly absurd and inherently evil – he began to seek his own glory. 5. All sin and evil comes from the same place – creatures loving themselves more than God. a) Rom 1:21-25 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 6. Do you think there is less idolatry today than there was 2000 years ago? a) Although there is less worship of carved images, man is no less engaged in worshiping himself. b) Carved images were just a way to go about serving self. c) Today we use different ways to go about it, like possessions, hobbies, sports, prestige, etc. d) They are just different reflections of the same desire to worship ourselves. D. Since our heart is corrupt everything that comes out of it is corrupt as well. 1. We tend to think of sin in terms of certain actions that are forbidden in Scripture. a) So stealing, murder, adultery and the like are sins. And we think if we keep ourselves from these kinds of things then we are not sinning.
9 2. However, nothing could be further from the truth. a) For Isaiah tells us in Isa 64:6 We are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. b) Because every thought and every action of the lost proceed out of a quest to serve themselves and their own glory, every thought and every action is sin. c) As Isaiah says, even our righteousnesses are filthy. d) If the best that we can do is filthy, then certainly everything less than our best is filthy too. That means everything we do is unclean and sinful. 3. It’s not hard to understand the possibility of doing the right thing for the wrong reason, and that doing so makes the act sinful. a) The Pharisees were well known for this. They were very careful about doing the right thing, but they did it for the wrong reason. b) They were fastidious about their tithes, making sure to give 10% even down the herbs they took out of their garden…but they did so to serve their own pride, not out love and thankfulness to God. 4. This is the problem with all who serve their own glory – They do everything for the wrong reason. a) The motivation of their heart is always to serve their own pleasure, even when they do their righteousnesses. 5. So we must ask ourselves why we came to church this morning. a) Was it out of a cherished relationship with Christ that desires to bring Him glory by loving His people, loving His Word and taking His praises upon our lips? b) Or was it for my own glory because I want to be a good person who always tries to do the right thing so I can go to heaven? c) Did I do it to gain respect, or so I could feel good about myself? d) Did I come because I just wouldn’t feel right about not coming, or to find a sense of companionship? e) We really must ask this question about everything we do. 1) We must be honest about what is motivating our actions. 2) What is the ultimate purpose behind them? E. So only one of these two quests is worthy. 1. One must be embraced and the other must be rejected. V. Which Will You Choose? A. As we stand on the brink of this new year, which of these two quests will I choose? 1. Will I be content to pursue the quest of seeking my own glory this year? a) Will I continue to use God for my own purposes? b) Will I sacrifice the Lord God upon the alter of my self-worship? 2. Will I continue to make everyone around me my slave, by using them to serve my own pleasure?
10 3. Will I continue to take the world all around me and wrest away the Glory it renders to God, that I might consume it upon myself as if it existed for me? B. Or will I be changed? 1. Will I take up a new quest…the quest of sacrificing myself for the Glory of God. 2. Will I cast my glory away, hating it for the wretched thing that it is and weeping over the evil of my heart that has been so insolent against the Lord. 3. Will I cast myself upon the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ who came call sinners to Himself? 4. Will I heed the kind gracious words of Christ in Mat 16:24-25? Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. C. You may say in your heart “I’ve already done all that; I know I’m right with God.” 1. But you must ask yourself this morning, “when I got right with God, did my quest in life become one of seeking His glory with my whole heart, or has it really been one of seeking my own glory all this time?” D. Maybe as you think about living a life that desires to please God in everything, and rejects those desires to have your own way. You wonder how that could ever be possible. 1. You know yourself too well to think such a thing would really be possible, and you wonder how anyone else could do it either. 2. After all, how do you make yourself love something you know you are supposed to love, but honestly when it comes down to it can’t bring yourself to. 3. You’ve tried to love God a thousand times, you’ve tried to repent and prayed for God to save you again and again and it never seems to work. 4. The problem is that you haven’t had a heart to love God, and you need a new heart. A heart that only God can give you; one that is inclined to love Him sacrificially. 5. "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord GOD. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!" (Eze 18:30-32) 6. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Eze 36:25-27)
11 7. If you want to love God and glorify Him, and are willing to deny yourself, ask Him to give you a new heart that wants to do His will. His promise is sure; He will grant this petition without fail. E. Christian â€“ Let me urge you to focus yourself upon your quest in Christ this year and do not be drawn aside by the temptation to seek your own glory even for a moment. 1. Be aware your flesh and Satan will seek to draw you back to expressions of affection for yourself. 2. You are no longer held by that perverse love. Be true to your King, delight yourself in Him and kill those evil motions that remain in your heart. 3. Do as the Apostle Paul commanded us in Col 3:1-7 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
Sermon on the foundation of all sin.