pentecost-sunday-04-2003 In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. The Lord said to the centurion, ?Go thy way, as thou hast believed, so shall it be done unto thee.¦ May these words be true for us--as we believe, may it be done unto us. But our belief must be pure; it must be correct; it must be fervent, in order for it to be effectual. And how do we have this proper belief? Christianity-- in many ways-- is similar to other things in life, such as: you must have the proper attitude; the proper perspective; the proper way of thinking, to accomplish a task. Whether it be to be a Christian, or whether it to be a doctor or a basketball player, you must have the right way of thinking about your task, your craft. What is the right way to think as Christians-- About what we believe? Of course, we must believe the dogmas about our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and God the Father, all of the dogmas that the Church teaches us; but I-m speaking of something different here, or something deeper than dogmas, I-m talking about the application of the dogmas. The reading from the Gospel and the reading from the Epistle today speak of this right way of thinking that we must have in order to accomplish anything in our Christian life, and that is: we must understand about authority. The centurion understood?a man who was not even a Jew, but loved God and within the constraints of his position, privately, secretly, practiced the Jewish religion. Of course, he wasn-t allowed to go to any synagogue. He said to the Lord himself, he said, ?I-m not worthy for you to come under my roof.¦ A Jew couldn-t go into a pagan-s house; but he was pagan in name only. He was pagan only by reason of his position in society, not his heart. Later on he would be converted by the apostles. Now, he knew about authority; he knew when he told the Lord, he was a man under authority, and he obeyed the one who was in authority over him, and he knew that the people under him obeyed him. He said, ?Do this¦ and he does it. He said, ?Go here¦, and he goes there. He understood this; he understood his position: there were people who he was in authority over, and there were people who could command him. We must understand our position as well, and the apostle speaks of it: we must understand our former position, may it be only a former position, and our position now in Christ. What does the apostle say? Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. This is the way of thinking that I want you to know. This is what is necessary to know and to apply to your life, if you are to make progress in the spiritual life, and indeed, to be saved at all. And that is: you-re a servant. Formerly ye yielded your members servants to uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity; even now, so yield your members servants unto righteousness and to holiness. This is the way of thinking we must have. Formerly we were exiles cast out far away from God-- and we-d better believe that; we-d better not think we weren-t that bad; there are other people worse than us-- we shouldn-t be thinking things like that. Before we knew Christ we were far off, regardless of whether or not we were baptized as children or later on in life. Before we had Christ, we had no access to the Father, we had no ability to do righteousness; not true righteousness, perhaps worldly righteousness that appeared to be righteous, but righteousness that was always mixed with unrighteousness. With Christ we can become holy and perfected, and whereas we formerly would serve sin, now we serve righteousness. Now, a servant doesn-t have high ideas about himself. A servant is like the centurion: I-m a man under authority; I do what I-m told. That-s all. I do what I-m told. Now we know the one who-s in authority over us. We know that He is good, and He is meek and lowly, that he is righteous, that He is perfect, and that He offers us perfection and Truth, and happiness. He is one we can follow, as a servant. Now there will come a day?the eighth day when He will no longer call us slaves, or servants, He-ll call us friends. But like the centurion, we should say, ?I-m not worthy¦. I-m not worthy of that title yet, to be called a friend, I don-t act like much of a friend; I still sin. The human being, a very proud creature, but it is true, regardless of how proud we are, we must serve something or someone. It is not possible to be human and to not serve. Now, either we serve sin, or we serve righteousness?you can not have it any other way. People who think they are free, and are still sinning, are really enslaved, enshackled to the devil, and they-re servants of unrighteousness. We have been made free?free from sin. That-s what the Lord did, you know, He freed us from sin. That means, He made us capable of not sinning. He made us capable of becoming righteous. Not only did He forgive our sins, but He gave us the ability to continue in holiness, and to become better and better; and follow more and more of the commandments; and, as we follow more of the commandments, to know Him more. And this sweet knowledge of Him is indescribable. Awhile ago we read?was it yesterday, or the day before?man was put into the third heaven?it was yesterday, wasn-t it, St. Paul--things that could not even be uttered, such beautiful things. This knowledge is for us to have, but only if we are servants of righteousness. I think our past is good to remember, in a sort of a fuzzy way. I don-t think it-s good to remember all of our sins, especially the ones that brought us pleasure, because they can draw us back into sin. But we should remember that there was a time that we did things that we shouldn-t do, and we kept doing them. Perhaps we didn-t even know that they were wrong, or perhaps we knew that they were wrong and we couldn-t stop. We were compelled, there was someone pushing us from behind, someone with a whip saying, ?You must do this¦ even if we didn-t want to do it. We wanted to do well but we couldn-t. With Christ we can. Now, remember how you were, and remember perhaps even now, to this day when there are things that you are not able to stop: Someone says something evil about you, and in your heart-- it shrivels up-- and there-s anger; or you should say your prayers, but you-re so lazy; or you should fast, but it-s easier to eat whatever is available; and on and on and on. There are times when we sin because we-re just not strong enough. We-re still weak. So we can remember even now, even what happened yesterday, or this morning, that we-re servants still, because of our weakness, to unrighteousness, but the Lord gives us the capability of being servants to holiness. This is how we must think of ourselves. So we must apply what we used to be?unable to do good, to what we should be now?unable to do evil. We have no right to do evil. This is the attitude we should have, if we are to be Christians. I-ve told some of you: if you have a bad thought, and it-s hard to get this thought out of your mind, part of repudiating the thought is to think: I have no right to think this! I-m a servant of God; servants of God don-t think like this; servants of God don-t do this stuff. I have no right to do this. I-m a servant of God. He-s redeemed me, and I-m unworthy, and I-m unprofitable, but I am still a servant, and I will do my best to follow what He tells me-- all of His sweet commandments. Because in His commandments are life; in His commandments are happiness, fulfillment, true knowledge. This is the kind of attitude you should have when you-re tempted to be lazy: I have no right to be lazy. When you-re tempted to have a bad thought, judgment, or lustful thought: I have no right to have this thought. Of course, then, with the attitude must come prayer, to cast out such a thought, or laziness with prayer. But fundamentally, you must have the attitude within you: I-m a servant of God; I-m an unworthy servant, I don-t deserve what He has given me, but thanks be to God, He has given me life. He-s given me the ability to become holy. This is the attitude we should have about ourselves. The apostle says, ?For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof you are now ashamed, for the end of those things is death. But now, being made free from sin and become servants to God you have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. There was a time when we were, as it were, free from righteousness, unable to do righteousness; now we-re free from sin?unable to do sin if we apply to ourselves what God has given us. You-re servants; do what your commander tells you to do. You have no right to say and do things that are sinful. You don-t have a right to break the commandments. And your King is with you all the time; He-s not invisible, He-s always there. He sees everything. Now in the world we have commanders, and they might be away so we can?-when the cat-s away, the mice will play-. But in Christianity, the Lord is always with us. We are always servants. We should have this attitude in ourselves. This is why the Lord said about the centurion, He had not seen such great faith, no not at all in Israel; because, the centurion understood about authority; and he was willing to follow Christ as his Commander. We must be too. Try this: when you are tempted to sin, especially sins of thought, don-t allow yourself to do it, say: I don-t have a right; I am a servant of God. I have formerly yielded my members unto unrighteousness, but because of the Lord, they are now yielded unto righteousness. Before I was unable to do righteousness, now I should be unable to do sin. There is this capacity in you to completely say no, to all sin; in every Christian there is. Some of us exercise this capacity very weakly, but it is there. You-re a servant?a servant unto righteousness serving God, following the commandments, learning more of Him, unto everlasting life. Have this attitude in your daily life, and you will be saved. Amen.