What is your understanding of this statement? "That turns me off!" "That turns me off" is a negative response--in the absolute sense. To me, it means, "Physically, that disgusts me! Mentally, that repulses me! Emotionally, that deeply offends me!" It is a "whole person" negative response.

Could you make a list of things that "turn you off"? Teenagers, what "grosses you out"? At school? At home? With parents? With brothers and sisters? At church?

Adults, could you make a list of things that "turn you off"? In society? In marriage? At work? With your kids? With your husband or wife? At church?

What do you think "turns God off"? All of us could make a list of things that we are convinced that "turn God off." Few of our lists would be identical. We differ a lot in our convictions about the specific things that disgust God.

  1. Let me anticipate some things that many of us think disgust God.
    1. I understand that our lists would vary greatly.
      1. Those variations probably would reflect our age and background differences--different ages think different things disgust God.
      2. Some things that a teenager would put on a list likely would not be on the list of a 40 year old.
      3. Some things on the lists of those above 40 years of age would not even be understood by teenagers.
    2. Some specifics things that might appear on many lists could be:
      1. Disobedience.
      2. The failure to respect God's authority.
      3. Ignoring God's commandments.

  2. Allow me to use the concept of commandments as an example.
    1. Consider disobedience and ignoring God's commandments.
      1. Disobedience is rebellion; deliberately doing something God said that we should not do.
      2. Ignoring commandments would involve refusing to consider God's instructions--we do not deliberately rebel; but we just do not listen.
    2. Most Christians would say that obeying God is important.
      1. Many Christians believe some instructions are very important commandments.
        1. If you refuse to obey these commandments, God is immediately disgusted.
        2. Just as quickly, God's disgust turns to anger.
      2. But many Christians think that other forms of disobedience are not that serious.
        1. Some kinds of disobedience "turn God off," and some kinds do not.
        2. God is never happy when we fail to obey, but some kinds of disobedience do not upset God.
      3. If you are thinking, "David, no Christian thinks that," consider an example.
        1. If we did not sing an invitation song this morning, would that "turn God off?"
          1. Many of you say, "Absolutely!"
          2. "That would 'turn God off' fast! He would really be upset! And so would I!"
        2. If we deliberately deceive someone in a business deal this week, would that "turn God off?"
          1. Many of us would say, "Well, it would be wrong, and God would not like it, but I don't think God would be that upset."
          2. "God knows that will happen--that's life."
        3. Which would disgust God quicker: not offering an invitation song or deceiving someone?
          1. At least some of us would say, "Not offering an invitation song."
          2. Possibly most of us would say, "Not offering an invitation song."

  3. What is the most important set of commandments that God gave people?
    1. The number one nomination would be the Ten Commandments, and I agree.
      1. These commandments were given in an exceptional situation and circumstances at a unique time.
      2. God gave Israel these commandments about ninety days after they left Egypt.
      3. These freed slaves knew very little about God.
        1. They knew that over four hundred years earlier that God communicated with their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
        2. But the people who left Egypt had received no instructions from God while they were in Egypt.
        3. In their ignorance, they understood idols better than they understood God.
      4. The Ten Commandments are the first commandments that God gave Israel.
        1. They were the foundation, the core of God's expectations of Israel.
        2. They were the "ground level" basics that God expected of these people.
    2. Consider the ten commands spoken to Israel by God Himself in Exodus 20:1-17.
      1. #1: "I and I alone am God, and you will accept only Me as God."
        1. "I delivered you from your slavery--you did not deliver yourselves."
        2. "All you did was walk out of Egypt into your freedom."
        3. "Therefore you will not look at anything else as being God."
        4. "You will not call anything else God."
        5. "You will not worship anything else as God."
        6. "You will not serve anything else as God."
        7. "I am God, and you know that I am God."
      2. #2: "You will not make anything to call God."
      3. #3: "You will show me respect."
        1. "You will reverence me."
        2. "You will not demean my name or look upon me with contempt."
      4. #4: "You will keep every Saturday holy."
        1. "Just as I created the world in six days, you will work only six days."
        2. "The seventh day you will keep holy by doing no work."
      5. #5: "You will respect parents and take care of them."
        1. "You will not neglect their needs."
        2. "You will not abandon them in their old age."
      6. #6: "You will not murder anyone."
      7. #7: "You will not sexually violate the marriage of another person."
      8. #8: "You will not steal."
      9. #9: "You will not lie about your neighbor."
        1. "You will not ruin his reputation."
        2. "You will not create a wrong impression of your neighbor."
      10. #10: "You will not look with greed on anything that belongs to your neighbor."
        1. "Not his house, his livestock, or any possession that he owns."
        2. "Not his wife or his servants."
    3. Please notice something that is very obvious in these ten foundation commandments that God gave Israel.
      1. Four of these commandments dealt with the way that they were to treat God.
      2. Six of these commandments dealt with the way that they were to treat each other.
      3. None of them are worship instructions--they were to worship God, but these commandments did not tell them what to do.
      4. None of these commandments were ceremonial commands--the "correct way to do it" commands.
      5. None of these commandments were procedural commands--the "how to do it" commands.
    4. I would affirm that these ten commands declared God's top priorities for Israel.
      1. God's top priorities focused on how they treated God and how they treated each other.
      2. No matter what else they obeyed, no matter how correct their worship was, if they failed to obey one of these commandments, they "turned God off."
      3. That fact is confirmed again and again in the messages of the Old Testament prophets.
        1. Israel thought because they worshipped God correctly that they were caring for "the important things."
        2. God told them plainly, "Because you also worship idols and because you do not treat people properly, your worship disgusts me."
        3. God's top priorities for Israel were treating God properly and treating each other properly.

  4. "But what about us? What are God's priorities for us?"
    1. If I asked you, "What is the most important obedience that a Christian gives to God?" what would your answer be?
      1. If we listed and ranked areas of obedience, many would rank obedience in worship as the most important obedience that a Christian gives.
      2. Many of us hold two common convictions.
        1. Conviction # 1: nothing pleases God more than correct worship.
        2. Conviction # 2: nothing disgusts God more than incorrect worship.
        3. Therefore, obedience in worship is the most important obedience.
    2. Listen to some things that Jesus said.
      1. Matthew 7:1,2 "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      2. Matthew 7:12 "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      3. Matthew 12:36,37 "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      4. Matthew 18:34,35 (The parable of the unmerciful servant) "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
    3. How do Christians "turn God off"?
      1. When Christians fail to treat other people as Jesus Christ treats them, they "turn God off."
      2. Does God expect us to worship him correctly? Absolutely!
      3. Can Christians successfully substitute correct worship for obedience? Absolutely not!
      4. Listen to this statement Jesus made concerning the Pharisees.
        (Matthew 23:23) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."
        (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
        1. They were careful to give ten percent of everything--they even gave God ten percent of their herbs.
        2. But they neglected deeply important matters--justice, mercy, faithfulness.

In the Old Testament, God was completely disgusted with Israel. He was disgusted because Israel tried to substitute worship for obedience. Listen carefully to what God said in Jeremiah 7:22,23.
"For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.'"
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

God said, "When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, the first commandments that I gave them were not worship commandments. I asked them to obey me, and they did not."

God, what commands did you give that they did not obey? "I commanded them to treat me properly and to treat each other properly. And they did not do it."

So I ask you again, "What turns God off?"

In human relationships you can destroy love. You can never destroy God's love for you. There is never a failure or mistake that is so tragic that God won't love you. At some point everyone does something which turns God off. Everyone eventually does something which He finds offensive.

He wants us to worship Him out of our love for Him. It is just as important that everything else we do bring honor and glory to God and the resurrected Jesus.

Have you responded to God's love?
He wants you to build or revive a relationship with Him. Will you let God know that He is your God and that Jesus is your Savior?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 9 August 1998

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