The Crushing Crown

September 25, 2022

David Sorn

When we seek to steal God’s crown and put ourselves first, we are putting on a crown that will crush us.

The Crushing Crown

September 25, 2022

David Sorn

When we seek to steal God’s crown and put ourselves first, we are putting on a crown that will crush us.



We are continuing this morning in our Worthy Series on John chapter 5.

So at that, let’s have everybody grab a Bible.

John 5:28-30

Page 727

We’re going to cover a key truth for our culture to hear, and so I wanted to slow us a down a bit today and cover only these 3 verses.

This is Jesus talking:

(John 5:28-30) – NIV

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

(Worthy Slide)

Okay, let’s start with verses 28 & 29 because they may have sounded a bit different to you if you’ve been in church for much of your life.

Look back at verse 29 of our passage:

Jesus says, “and come out…those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

But maybe you’re thinking, isn’t that almost the opposite of what the Bible normally teaches?

Doesn’t the Bible teach that it’s not your good deeds that save you or determine where you end up in eternity (but your faith)…

So why does Jesus say it this way in this particular passage?

Well, in part, it’s because this is the writing style of the disciple John (both in his letters) and his Gospel here.

He often highlights Jesus’ sayings like this.

What John means here is that those who have been saved by Jesus ARE the ones able to do good works.

I’ll show you another example of John’s writings that maybe makes this more clear:

In John 15, Jesus says:

(John 15:5) – NIV

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

So this is not different than what the Bible teaches on “salvation by faith,” but just a different way to express it.

Okay, look to verse 30 of our passage now, particularly the last clause.

Jesus says, “I seek not to please myself, but him who sent me.”

He seeks to do God’s will.

We see Jesus say things like this a number of times in the Bible…

The Garden of Gethsemane (right before he’s arrested) is another prime example.

…where he says, “Not my will, but your will be done”

And we see this multiple times in the Bible because this is one of the most important ways that we can imitate Jesus

That you and I would say:

I seek not to please myself, but to please God

That is your life purpose…to glorify God…to live for Him

But before we go any deeper into this main point of the message, let me just say that I think some of this message will sound puzzling to many of you.

Perhaps even frustrating.

Here’s why:

Every culture has places where God’s Word intersects in some pretty gentle ways and places where it intersects rather painfully.

And this passage is one of the more painful intersection points in our current culture

We live in, not exaggerating, most likely the most self-focused, self-indulgent, self-obsessed culture to ever walk upon planet earth.

And sooooo…when we come to a Biblical passage about NOT PLEASING THE SELF…it’s going to sound foreign to us…it may even sound “wrong” to your ears.

Because it’s a painful intersection point.

Now, if I read a passage to you about “not murdering,” you’d say, “Okay, no problem…that’s not a painful intersection point.

But imagine I was a missionary to the Vikings.

Not the football team…although they looked last week like they needed lots of help.

But I’m talking the violent Vikings of 1,000 years ago

The ones that just went around on their ships murdering whatever group them came upon.

And imagine I’m preaching to THEIR culture…

And I preach a message about: “Do not murder!”

Not gonna go over as well as it would with this crowd.

Because that is a painful intersection point for their culture.

And so remember (I tell you this almost monthly now) remember, our current culture is not King…our current culture is not the final authority on truth.

Every culture has a very unique set of beliefs, but they all must come under the authority of Scripture.


(The Crushing Crown Slide)

Okay, so let’s talk about “not pleasing ourselves” because at the end of the day, we typically want to be in charge

We want to wear the crown in our lives…to say, “I’m the King, the Queen. I decide.”

But I must warn you about something.

If you’re going to take the crown, I urge you to read the “terms & conditions” first.

The Bible communicates, through its pages, that you weren’t meant to wear this crown.

And if you put it on, over time, (Romans 1) God will give you over to it…and it will slowly crush you.

Because, as a human, you weren’t made to bear the weight of this crown.

It’s not meant for you, it’s meant for the King.

And YET, we want to wear it!

In fact, let’s look at 3 common areas where we’re tempted to put on this Crushing Crown

3 Common Areas We’re Tempted to Put on the Crushing Crown

#1: Our Plans

From a very early age, we ask our children, and then our teens, “What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you think you’ll major in?”

Many of us see our work as the main way to self-fulfillment.

And we think, we oughta be in complete control of making that decision

I was talking with one of my kids the other night, and having this classic conversation about future careers..

And they said, “I can’t decide…there are a lot of choices.”

And I said, “well, you better decide” (j/k!)

No, I said, “At the end of day, you just need to do what God calls you to do…not what anyone else, or even what you think is best”

And again, you may say, “That doesn’t sound right to me”

And that’s because “pleasing God first” is a foreign idea to our culture.

(The Crushing Crown Slide)

I’ve watched many people whom God may be calling to leave a corrupt company, or enter into the ministry, or to move…

And they say, “NO! I can’t. I wouldn’t be making enough money…that would be too hard…too uncomfortable…” you name it

They say, “God that sounds hard, and I can’t bear the weight of a hard life.”

--But do you know what you really can’t bear?

The weight of the crushing crown.

The weight of trying to make decisions for your life like you’re God.

People everywhere in our culture our being crushed by anxiety, in part, because rather than accepting the direction of the King for their life, they’re trying to be the King of their life

And it’s crushing them.

God has a better way for you my friend.

The life of a Christ-imitator is one, where we, like Christ, say:

I seek not to please myself, but to please God

God, you wear this crown…where do you want me to go?

You know best.

And He does!!

Life works so much better when we don’t wear His crown!


Let’s take a look at another example here

3 Common Areas We’re Tempted to Put on the Crushing Crown

#1: Our Plans

#2: Putting Ourselves First

This is maybe the least obvious of the 3.

In part because our culture has raised us from infancy on beliefs like, “You do what’s best for you.”

I can’t tell you how many times I was told that as a kid.

But that’s not what the Bible says.

Jesus said, “I seek not to please myself.”

In 2022, we put ourselves first, but then we excuse it by calling it self-care.

Okay, settle down for a second.

Self-care, if defined properly, is really good.

If we’re just talking about healthy eating, and exercise (then sure, the Lord says your body is a temple…take care of it)

If we’re talking about resting (then sure, the Lord models the Sabbath for us)

Even in intense seasons, sometimes you just need a nap.

Last summer, I preached a message about Elijah’s depression, and how God started out by giving him something to eat and telling him to take a nap.

Taking care of your body isn’t selfish…

That’s just handing the crown to God and saying, “I’ll take care of my body this way because that’s how you told me to…you’re the King”

The PROBLEM IS…the way many people use the term self-care today looks more like self-indulgence than self-care

It can look more like, “I know I should help my friend move, but I’d rather sleep in (Gotta do some self care)

I know I should catch up on my Bible reading plan, but I’d rather binge watch this show and eat a pint of cookie dough ice cream…(self care??)

What many of us are doing is we’re making our daily & weekly decisions by a philosophy that says: “I need to do what’s best for me, and what pleases me”

But Jesus says, “No, imitate me.”

“I seek not to please myself, but the one who sent me”

Jesus’ whole life was about NOT putting himself first.

(Mark 10:45) - NIV

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

He’s not living to please himself first

If Jesus was living by the code, “You do what’s best for you,” He would have never went to the cross!

And so again, God’s Word urges you…imitate the life of Jesus.

And if you do that, the upside-down Kingdom of Jesus will surprise you.

Because I’ll tell you, I know in my own life, my deepest moments of joy didn’t happen in moments where I was doing selfish taking or consuming…they happened in moments where I was giving…serving.

Don’t seek to please yourself, but to please God.


Let’s take a look at third one

3 Common Areas We’re Tempted to Put on the Crushing Crown

#1: Our Plans

#2: Putting Ourselves First

#3: Personal Gratification

Our culture is beyond confused on this area.

Especially when it comes to sex.

Rather than sex being a life-giving way to serve a spouse within the commitment of marriage, it’s become something that people randomly “consume” for their own personal pleasure

Often with no commitment, or even relational connection.

(The Crushing Crown Slide)

And for the Christian, often our temptations to grab the crown are quite strong here.

Let’s not pretend like we’ll all holy and never tempted.

In our hearts, we think, “I’d be happier if I had the crown on here! And I ignored the Bible and did what felt good.”

We think, “What is pornography even going to hurt?! I deserve this. Life has been hard. How about I decide for once? Why be with one person for life?”

Listen to me as your pastor: It won’t work.

You can’t bear it.

It will crush you.

Let me give you another example of this:

Perhaps the most common pastoral meeting I’ve done in almost 2 decades of ministry have been around couples living together before marriage.

I think that’s in part because our pastors don’t officiate weddings of people if they are living together.

Because God’s Word tells us not to do that…that’s not His way.

The marriage ceremony is a celebration of that couple now coming together in a covenant…as one flesh.

And I think I’ve had to do a lot of those meetings because this is another painful intersection of God’s Word into our culture.

Listen, I know that 86% of Americans disagree with me (and the Bible) on this topic of cohabitation.

But my job as a teacher of God’s Word isn’t to do what 86% of people want me to do, it’s to do what God wants me to do

Just like if I were preaching to the Vikings 1,000 years ago, you actually wouldn’t want me to say, “I see that 86% of you enjoy murdering random folks. Let’s go with the majority. Murder is okay. ”

You’d say, “David, that’s wrong. There’s a higher truth than their culture!”

Well there is here too.

And so I’ve had plenty of conversations with people about this topic over the years

And I’ll try and gently show them what God’s Word says about coming together as one flesh (Genesis) , avoiding even a hint of sexual immorality (Eph 5), keeping the marriage bed pure (Heb 13), and so on.

And if I am meeting with Christians, what they’ll most often say to me, “I see what the Bible says, but we just can’t bear the financial weight of moving out right now and living apart.”

And I’ll say, “No, what you can’t bear, is the weight of wearing the crushing crown.

Making that decision is crushing not only because it’s unwise (every major study says cohabitation decreases your chance of having a successful marriage).

Making that decision is crushing because it’s going against God.

I think we all have those 5 or 10 moments in life where you have to decide, am I going to let God wear the crown when it’s hard really, really hard to let go?

My friends, those are the key decisions that will define the trajectory of your walk with God

And I urge you to fear the Lord…to fear the implications of taking the crown from Him.

Because doing so isn’t just you pleasing yourself first, it also involves the mutiny of your heart.

Taking the crown is you saying to God, “I don’t trust you. Not here.”

And that step…that step right there…will cause your heart to want to hide from God.

That’s exactly what happened with Adam & Eve

They ripped the proverbial crown right off the tree, and then they hid


And so what do you do if you’re there…even right now?

You’re here, you’re a Christian, but in truth, you’ve stolen the crown and it’s on your head right now…..

….your faith is not that strong right now, in part because you’ve been hiding from Him…avoiding Him.

What do you do??

If that’s you, I want you to think about this this way:

Think back to the days of the Kings and Queens.

And imagine that someone enters the palace, and see the crown sitting on a table, and they steal the crown of the King.

And not only that, but they sit on his throne, and they start issuing decrees on how things will go.

But let’s say, at that moment, the King and His court walk in.

In those days, what was the penalty for usurping the throne? For treason?


Okay, so knowing that, recognize that here in the Bible, we have a King.

Not just a King, but the King of Kings.

And guess what, He has caught you red-handed, stealing his crown.

And the onlookers call out around you: “You have sinned!! Treason! Death!”

And this King of Kings, says to the crowd: “You’re right, they have.”

And the punishment is death.

The wages of sin is death.

But the King says, “But in my love for them, justice will be my death.”

And so Jesus steps off heaven’s throne, comes to earth, and he dies in the place, of us, the “crown thieves. ”

And so I bring us back to the main question of our text for today: Why in the world would anyone want to live counter cultural like this?

In a culture where everyone is doing what’s best for them and making their own decisions and pleasing themselves…

Why, would any of us say, “No, In all of my decisions, in all of my ways, in how I live my life, “I seek not to please myself, but my God who made me”

And the more I pondered this thought, the more I thought: “And what should I be doing with a crown?”

What do I know?

Like God said to Job, when Job pridefully thought he had figured out some answers about suffering:

God said, “Were you there, when I was creating the universe?”

What in the world could I possibly know that would justify me stealing the King’s crown, and doing things my way.

In my ignorance, the crown, on my head, will crush me.

What should I be doing with a crown?

Every time I try and go against God and do my own thing, it ends in a crushing defeat. Every time.

What should I be doing with a crown?

No, my friend. No.

Don’t take the crown.

You can’t bear it.

There is only one who can have it placed upon His head and can bear it.

The one who never sinned…Jesus Christ the King.

And you can give Him the crown because of His Sovereignty, His Wisdom, and…AND…because of His love.

See, He is not some authoritarian leader that says, “The crown is mine! You will obey me!”

That’s not the story of this Book.

And it is absolutely critical that you brand that Gospel truth into your heart.

Because the fact that we confuse this very thing is why so many of us try and take the crown from Him…

Think of it this way: in history, if there’s a bad authoritarian leader…one who only loves themselves…and not the people…

Then what happens?

The people fight to take the crown away!


Because they know they can lead better than that selfish King!


See, if you see Him…you really see Him for who He truly is:

The only thing you could say to Him would be: “And what should I be doing with a crown?”

“He saw me sneaking into steal the crown, and after THAT, He gave his life for mine.”

That’s who my King is.

And that…THAT…my friends is why you can say“I seek not to please myself, but the King who died for me”….LET ME PRAY.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.