“Not for Me”

Apocalyptic Love

AKA "Slash's Advice for Christian Living"

Messages from Secular Songs

If any of you have spent time on-line looking at (or listening to) my sermons before arriving here in Pleasanton, you'll notice a good number that are based on songs by secular groups. For instance

And although those were the only ones that came to mind as I as writing this sermon, there may be more and I've also worked in plenty of other snippets of secular songs into my sermons. That probably may make some folks cringe, but music has always had special meaning to me…speaking to my heart in ways mere words cannot.

So, although I have not yet figured out which songs to include…even for next week…this month I will do a series of sermons that are based on non-Christian songs that seem to have an important message…or which at least have a memorable verse that we can learn from.

If you have any suggestions, please be sure to let me know after the sermon…I always love an excuse to spend more money buying music. 🙂

Now, what we may learn from a secular song might be that they are very very wrong…but there are also plenty of tunes out there that seem to show a bit of what remains of the image of God in this world's inhabitants.

A wisdom that seems beyond our behaviors.

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Slash

How many people here know who Slash is?

What band is he most famous for? [ Guns N Roses]

What is his signature bit of clothing? [ Top hat ]

Per Wikipedia…and yes, I know one has to be cautious trusting Wikipedia as a source of information…but I suspect it's pretty accurate when it comes to Slash…

So, per Wikipedia:

Slash was born Saul Hudson in Hampstead, London. His mother, Ola Hudson (born Oliver; 1946—2009), was an African American costume designer whose clients included David Bowie, and his father, Anthony Hudson, is an white English artist who created album covers for musicians such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

In 2001, at the age of 35, Slash was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a form of congestive heart failure caused by his many years of alcohol and drug abuse. Originally given between six days and six weeks to live, he survived through physical therapy and the implantation of a defibrillator. Slash has been clean and sober since 2006, which he credits to his wife Perla.1

Now, that isn't much of a bio of our guitarist, but I think that latter part will add meaning to the song we are about to go through for this talk.

"Not for Me"

Recently Slash (featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators) came out with the album Apocalyptic Love. If you are a guitar rock lover, you'll find plenty in it to enjoy, and Myles Kennedy has one of the best voices in hard rock out there. I have enjoyed Myles' work ever since he first sang for Alter Bridge…a group formed when Creed temporarily broke up…basically Creed with him replacing Scott Strapp on vocals (and with a somewhat different style).

There was one song on Slash's album that especially jumped out at me…it's title is the title of this sermon…"Not for Me." It begins like this:

Dirty Sunrise creeping in,
Broken bottles, gilled within,
The room is black,
The blinds are drawn,
I don't remember anything,
What I've done, where I've been,
Another night has come and gone,
This is not for me, no,
This is not for me, no,
This life is not for me, no,
This is not for me, no,
Anymore,2

Has anyone woken up in that situation? No, don't raise your hands. 🙂

But, there are plenty of Christians who, before they were regenerated by the Spirit…that is, changed by the Spirit…may have woken up in less than commendable situations…perhaps after blacking out and not remembering what they did the night before.

And hoping it wasn't anything that would come back to haunt them.

With Slash that behavior nearly cost him his life.

Biblical View

Great hard rock song or not, I suspect my invitations to speak up here would discontinue if I didn't suggest that we can even learn more about that kind of situation in the pages of the Bible :-), so let's turn there by looking again at today's Scripture.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:5-11).

That's quite a list, eh?

But instead of focusing on all the sins that plague us, I want you to focus on a very, very important statement.

"In these you too once walked, when you were living in them."

Notice Paul isn't speaking of them as sins you and I should be wresting with…instead, they are part of the "old self" and not part of the "new self."

There are what we once walked…not what we walk in now!

To quote Slash and Myles Kennedy:

This is not for me, no…
This is not for me, no…
This life is not for me, no…

Or, in our context it should be:

That is not for me, no…
That is not for me, no…
That life is not for me, no…

And that's not the only time Paul refers to sinful behavior as being something we "once walked"…for instance, Ephesians 2:1-3 says:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Our life was a life of broken bottles, gilled within…by nature children of wrath.

No, we didn't all have drinking problems…but many of us had sins that were just as messy. As for "gilled within"…I'm not sure exactly what that means…and a dictionary didn't help much…but there is a thing in fishing called a "gill net"…which works in part by catching a fish by the gills if they back up into its mesh. The animal loving part of my cringes at the thought.

Perhaps that was what the song alludes to…but regardless…how many of us were "gilled within" by our sins before we were set free by the blood of the Lamb?

"We all once lived in the passions of the flesh"…and "were dead in the trespasses in which [we] once walked."

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

We were gilled in the net of sin…like billions and billions and billions of people have been through history…

But, key again is that we once walked…we no longer walk in them, because:

This is not for me, no…
This is not for me, no…
This life is not for me, no…

Instead, "eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" is for us!

The Devil

I think what ensured "Not for Me" being the subject of a sermon or an article s the next section. It is especially poignant for anyone who has battled sin, especially addiction:

The devil smiles and laughs at me,
Says you'll be back, just wait and see,
You know I've heard this all before,
And I say,
You can keep your high life in the hills,
Your cocaine lies and whiskey thrills,
I don't need you anymore,3

Has anyone here ever felt like that? Like the Devil is laughing at you…confident you will return to your pet sins?

How many of you have made him right?

How many of you have made him right after you became a Christian?

Well, first of all remember what we've previously learned from John 8:44:

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Satan is a liar.

Please say that with me.

Satan is a liar.

He smiles and laughs at you if you actually believe him…if you fall for that falsehood that you are doomed to fall back into that sin you've been wrestling with.

How do I know?

Because of the hope and the promise in 1 Corinthians 10:6-13:

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Here again we have Paul listing things that we shouldn't do…but notice how he wraps it up:

"God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

We know from the Devil trying to tempt Jesus in the wilderness that the father of lies knows Scripture…so when he smiles and laughs at you…and says you'll be back…he is hoping…

Would it be fair to say "he is hoping like hell"?

He is hoping like hell you'll ignore the Word of God and buy his lie and fall back into sin because you do not trust the guarantee of God that you will be provided a way of escape…the promise that you will be able to endure that temptation.

And not only that, with God's power that if you resist the devil he will flee from you (see James 4:7).

Did you catch that?

James 4:7 (in part) promises that if you resist the devil he will flee from you!

If it weren't dangerously prideful, I'd say we should laugh at the Devil instead of allowing him to laugh at us.

Regardless, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) can keep our life of old…his cocaine lies and whisky thrills!

We'll keep "eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!"

Before You in the Sun

At this point the song has the "not for me chorus" again…and then these words:

The only thing that makes me whole again,
Is to stand right here before you in the sun, oh,
I'll keep running til the very end,
For the life I've lived is not the life I want.4

Although listening to that you cannot know if it is "sun" as in S-U-N or "son" as in "S-O-N"…and it is the former…those verses brought two scriptures to mind. The first is 1 John 1:5-10:

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

The only thing that makes us whole is to walk in light…and walking in that light "cleanses us from all sin."

Going back to our discussion from the beginning of the song…we do not walk as we once walked…in darkness…but we walk in the light.

And going back to second section of the song I spoke about…another reason not to fall for Satan's lies is because if we do happen to fall back into sin that doesn't mean we are back in his fold.

Au contraire!

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Devil…laugh all you want…but God's got my back by promising me strength beforehand…or forgiveness afterward.

I owe you one more verse for this part of the song…based on "I'll keep running til the very end, for the life I've lived is not the life I want"…

Which reminds me of Philippians 3:12-16:

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Does that sound like the words of a man who would ever give up?

Not in the least…Slash said he'd "keep running til the very end" and Paul with greater adamance states, "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Now, I wouldn't always say this…but listen to Slash…and definitely listen to Paul…who tells us "those of us who are mature think this way."

Be mature, because…

This is not for me, no…
This is not for me, no…
This life is not for me, no…
For the life I've lived is not the life I want.

We want "eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!"

In a Place I Don't Belong

Let's wrap up by combining a couple pieces toward the end of the song.

It starts repeating the beginning again, but with a different third line:

Dirty sunrise creeping in,
Broken bottles, gilled within,
In a place I don't belong,5

And then, right at the very end…minus a long "yeah" 🙂

You can keep your life,
I don't want anymore, yeah,
I'm gonna leave it all behind yeah,
I'm gonna leave it all behind yeah,
I don't want no more, don't want no more6

Brothers and sisters…we cannot escape this world until God calls us home. But, we live in a place where we don't belong. A life we do not want…a life that we want to leave behind…that we must leave behind.

Now, no matter how much I enjoy the Slash's guitar or Myles Kennedy's voice…it is the words of Jesus Himself that are the greatest music to me. As such, let's wrap up by hearing some of those from John 17:14-16:

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

We are not of this world. Some day we will hear "the voice of an archangel" and "the sound of the trumpet of God"…and our dearly departed saints will rise and we will join them "in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

However, for now we can at least, in a Christian context, tell the Devil he can keep the life of the flesh…that we don't want it anymore…that we are going to leave it all behind…for "eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Slash's Advice for Christian Living

So, based on this song, what is Slash's advice for Christian living?

  • Don't walk in your old life…it's not for you…eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord is for you!
  • Don't buy the Devil's lies…with God's power you do not have to sin.
  • Don't walk in darkness, walk in the light where the blood of Jesus Christ cleans you from all sin.
  • Don't give up, instead "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
  • Finally, don't act like this world does, because you are not of this world.

Or, in summary:

This is not for me, no…
This is not for me, no…
This life is not for me, no…

And thank God that he promises the power to not just say those words, but live them!

Footnotes

1Slash (musician). (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved June 30, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slash_(musician)

2SLASH – NOT FOR ME LYRICS. (n.d.). MetroLyrics. Retrieved July 1, 2012, from http://www.metrolyrics.com/not-for-me-lyrics-slash.html

3Ibid.

4Ibid.

5Ibid.

6Ibid.


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