From the Heart
Where does sin really come from? And how does real change actually happen?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor at Renovation Church.
From the beginning of this church, 4.5 years ago, our vision has simply been: “To be a people, being changed by God, to change the world”
And we believe God can do that through us…in our spheres of influence…in our “world”
But as we’ve gotten bigger, and God has given us greater influence…it’s been wonderful to see God use us to actually impact the broader world.
Through our work in Haiti…and coming this summer…in Africa.
And this morning, I’d like to call up two women from our church, who are doing full-time missions and evangelistic work: Chelsea Brady and Sarah Wkystra
These are two women who were regular attenders at Renovation (just like you), who God called into full-time ministry.
We are financial supporters of them, prayer supporters, and I hope many of you are individually as well.
I wanted to ask them a few questions about what they’ve been up to, so you can learn more about how the people of Renovation are changing the world.
First question: Tell us who you are, who you’re serving with, where you’re serving, and what your basic role there is.
Tell us one way (or story) of how you really saw God move this past year
What is one thing you’d really like the people of Renovation to be praying for you about as you return back to the mission field?
I just want to personally say that I’m inspired by Sarah and Chelsea.
I pray that you are too.
Also, both of them are not yet fully-funded for this next year of ministry.
If you want to help support them (in any way possible), you can either talk to them in the hallway after the service, or your bulletin has more info on how to find next steps as well.
My vision is that as we continue to grow as a church, that we’re able to see even more of you taking radical steps of faith like this to go out (leave your homes) and change the world.
(You guys can have a seat)
We are continuing in “The Kingdom” series this morning where we are studying the Book of Matthew…which is a book of the Bible on the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus.
We are now into chapter 15 today…and Jesus is going to be in trouble again…with the overly religious people…the Pharisees.
Let’s dive into the passage
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(Matthew 15:1-9) – NIV
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”
Let me pause for a minute or two here and explain some things.
When the Pharisees are all up and arms about Jesus’ disciples not washing their hands, it’s not because their germaphobes.
The disciples, as they have said, have broken “The tradition of the elders”
Well, what is that?
Is a list of specific rules (completely oral at this time) of how Jews were supposed to apply God’s law in everyday life.
And one of those laws was about how you were supposed to prepare yourself before you eat meals.
Now, we can make fun of that…but before you do…be careful.
I know plenty of Christians who would never think of eating dinner without offering a prayer first.
Why? Well, because it’s a good habit to get into to remember that God has given us all things.
Well, do you do it before you eat your bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream at night?
No, that’s different!
See, they’re just extra “Rules” we’ve come up with.
And for the Jews, they had extra rules about how to get clean before you received something from a Holy God.
Much like how people would get all clean and spiffy, and put on their suits and dresses before they came to church back in the day.
The problem is, as Jesus says, they’re putting their own extra rules ABOVE the actual commands of God from the Bible (like honor your father and mother).
They had a rule that if you had the finances to take care of your parents in their old age, but said, “Well, actually, I devote this extra money to God…then you didn’t have to take care of your parents.”
And you didn’t even have to give it to God, just say it.
So Jesus is trying to show them how ridiculous it is that they’ve put their rules about how to follow the Bible…above the Bible and a heart that God desires.
And, he’s now going to show them that they’ve also mistakenly put their focus on the outside, and instead of the inside.
Let’s keep reading.
(Matthew 15:10-20) – NIV
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” 12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
And here’s what Jesus wants you to see:
The battleground for your life is inside.
It’s in your heart.
Change …Holiness… Renovation….becoming Godly…is going to happen…from the inside out.
And NOT…from the outside IN.
So this morning, we want to take a look at how that’s true.
And what you can do to A) Guard your heart and B) Change from the inside out.
THE HEART IS THE BATTLEGROUND
Despite what all the paleo and gluten-free folks will tell you, life isn’t all about what you put in your mouth.
It’s about what comes out of your heart.
It’s about what’s happening on the inside
And the inside of you…the Bible simply refers to as “the heart”
In Scripture, it’s used as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person.
In other words, who you really are on the inside.
Think of the Pharisees as an example here.
To their followers, on the outside, they looked so impressive.
They did all the right religious things.
Attended the synagogue services, fasted, gave their money…
But on the inside…they were wicked.
Jesus wants you to see from the outset here, that change in your life has to work from the inside-out, not the outside-in.
If your emphasis is just on the outside, you can end up being counter-productive.
The track record of the Christian church, throughout history, is not so hot on this one.
Hear me, it’s a lot simpler to just create a list of 10 things you should and shouldn’t do (like go to church every week, give 30% of your income, fast on Mondays, don’t smoke)…and then…poof…you’re holy.
But what happens when you just focus on the external is that you end up creating a lot of fakers, rather than actual changed people.
It’s like saying you’ve done a major renovation on a messed-up, foreclosed house, but all you did is paint the outside.
A lot of Christians end up like this.
Sure, they don’t get drunk at happy hour or swear like the rest of their co-workers anymore, but nothing’s really changed on the inside.
They’ve merely changed a few external things, so they “fit the part”
THE HEART IS EVIL
And that’s because, at the root…on the INSIDE…it’s about the heart.
Not about adjusting externals.
It’s about your heart.
And, wait for this one…valentine’s day lover’s are going to hate this…the Bible says, The heart is evil.
(Jeremiah 17:9) – NIV
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Let me explain with an illustration.
Imagine this pitcher is your heart.
(we’re going to dive into some theology here)
A lot of people like to think that the heart is pure. That humans are born naturally good…at our core…we’re good people.
The Bible says, not true.
We just talked about this in our Theology 101 class actually.
This is the doctrine of Original Sin.
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, humanity has been sinful from birth.
(start putting yellow food coloring in)
In our NATURE, we more naturally prefer sin.
This is why our heart is wicked. It’ll betray us.
We have to teach children to obey God and do good.
You don’t have to teach them to do bad.
And it’s out of this sinful heart (Jesus says)…that sin starts.
First in our mind.
Take adultery for example (which is an example that Jesus used for things that come out of the heart)
People don’t commit adultery spontaneously.
Adultery starts when people (inside) let lust start to permeate
(That’s IN THE heart!)
And then some more thoughts about it…you’ll think about it way before you act on it.
And then conversation (more than you should)
Then flirtation (see how it’s moving outward)
You get the idea.
But sin starts from the NATURAL wickedness of our hearts.
DEFENSE: GUARD THE HEART
So what do you do about that?!?
I want to submit two good tactical strategies
A good defense and an good offense.
Let’s start with Defense.
Maybe it’s because we just tend to focus on a list of external things, but for whatever reason, most of us are completely careless when it comes to what we let into our hearts.
We simply have no filter whatsoever on what drips into our personal lives when no ones watching (the non-eternal things)
DRIP MORE YELLOW IN
But look at the wisdom of the Bible here.
(Proverbs 4:23) – NIV
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Let me ask you: Are you guarding what goes into your heart? In any way?
Through your eyes? Through your ears? What bounces around in your mind?
Is there any sort of filter on what you letting into this thing…to at least try and slow the yellow drop of sin from overtaking your heart?
Because the Bible says…what you let in…is going to flow back out into your actions.
Think of it this way…if this is really how the Bible sees life (that change is from your heart…from the inside-out)
Then we oughta guard our hearts…like a parent would guard the heart of their 4-year old child.
Think about how we guard their hearts!
In terms of what they see…what we let them hear…who they play with…what they do.
Like blocking it with this paper. You can’t stop everything. Some will eventually get through…
But we get the concept with kids! We totally do!
But then, we become adults, and we foolishly say, “That doesn’t’ apply to me! I can handle this just fine!”
And perhaps are hearts are already to deceived to even seen the logic of such things.
But really there are two types of defense when it comes to your heart.
ONE is defending the things that can come from outside.
And TWO is defending the things, that constantly come from within.
Because remember, our hearts are naturally sinful.
This is even more precisely the type of sin Jesus is talking about in Matthew 15
Take our attitudes and emotions for example
Your friend wrongs you…or says something mean about you…or you HEAR they said something mean about you.
How you emotionally react to that is going to be based upon what’s in your heart!
It’s like, if you were carrying this bucket around, and someone jostled you…and it spilled…the only thing that can spill out…is what’s in it.
And that’s your heart!
So when your co-workers, or the people who were supposed to be your “Friends” wrong you…how you react to it (firstly in your attitudes and emotions…resentment, bitterness, hatred)…is only going to come from what’s already in your heart.
And of course later…it’s those attitudes…Jesus says…that transform from sinful thought into sinful action.
This is all an incredibly Biblical concept. A ton of it right from the book of Matthew
(Matthew 12:33-35) – NIV
33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
OFFENSE: RENOVATION OF THE HEART:
So we talked about “Defense” and slow the YELLOW drip of sin.
But of course, you can play all the defense you want…and that’s important…especially after you become a Christ follower.
But as you can see, it doesn’t really change the composition of the heart inside.
See, in some sense the Pharisees were right (and Jesus never argues with them on this point)
We are unclean. We do need to be cleansed.
It’s just, it’s not the outside behaviors that need to be changed
It’s that our insides need to be clenased. It’s the heart.
Work needs to be done from the inside-out.
So, how do you do that?
Well, #1…We can’t do it on our own. We NEED God in our lives.
The Bible says (and this is what Christianity is all about) that when God sent his son Jesus to die for you, he did so to take the just punishment that we deserve….for all of our evil sins.
And if we would believe that Jesus died in our place, and commit our lives to Him…then we would be completely forgiven.
He would, therefore…die for us. In our place. Making us “not guilty.”
And we then get to spend eternity in heaven with Him….not in Hell.
It gets even better.
The book of Ephesians in the Bible tells us that…as a deposit…a down payment…for what you’ll experience in heaven, the Holy Spirit (who is also God) comes inside of you…and begins to change you.
So now…(walk over to pitcher of water and put in ONE drop of green die)…you have two things at war inside.
Of course your sinful nature…but now God is also inside of you changing you for the better…for his purposes…for his Glory.
And you can begin to see it change to green (for new life).
But the battle is still on.
It’s never going to change to all green here on earth.
Unfortunately, we won’t be rid of our sinful natures until we die.
But God can change you…and you can begin to see pockets of his new life
Pockets of your life that are so beautiful…a reflection of Him.
But as we said, you will not start to become more like Jesus simply by trying to avoid sin.
You can’t just play defense. You need an offense.
If we want to have long-lasting change, we have to surrender, and let Him take over more of our lives.
So, to start, you need to invite Him in to your life.
And if you want your life to change, you have to change from the inside.
If you want to start looking more like Jesus, it will not happen through the things you do in front of others.
It’ll happen from the things you do when no one’s looking.
In getting up early to pray when no one sees you do it.
In taking time to study the Bible instead of plopping on the couch to watch your favorite show.
In those moments when you want to Gossip about her soooo bad, but you whisiper to yourself, Lord help me keep it to myself
In those moments, where you’re all alone, and frustrated or lonely, and all you want to do is open up your laptop, and search on the internet for what your heart knows it shouldn’t.
And instead…you get on your knees, cry out to God, ask for help…and walk away. Maybe even leave the house for a while.
It’s in those quiet, unseen moments, that we ALLOW God to drip (drip more GREEN in) more of his goodness into our hearts.
So, by surrending to Him in those moments, He’s making us more like Him.
And we reflect more of his son.
But God isn’t going to “just do that”
You’ve got to CHOOSE to obey Him. CHOOSE to trust Him. CHOOSE to surrender.
And then, he will come in…and change your heart, which will change your life.
It’s a long process…but God can do it.
You can see it…in some of his people…that over the long-haul…they’ve been serious about defense…and let God do some major work.
But, here’s the most important question: Is Jesus in your life? Or are you still all yellow?
Are you in a relationship with Jesus?
I don’t mean, “Do you believe Jesus exists?”
I don’t mean, “Are you trying to be a good person?”
I mean, “Has the GREEN come into your life?
Is God actually moving in your life? In your heart?
Do you know Him? Do you KNOW Him?
If not, do you want to?
He knows you. He can change you. In fact, he never stops thinking about you.
God’s so in love with you that he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for you.
And you can be completely forgiven…if you believe in Him.
That’s the only way, in fact, that we can be forgiven.
We can’t do anything on our own to be made right with God.
Without believing in Jesus…our hearts remain sinful…it’s only yellow…we can’t become good on our own.
If you’ve never said, “I want to follow Jesus” before. If you’ve never given your life to Him, then let’s do that today.
Why put that off?
Maybe you’ve even heard me talk about this before, and you’ve been putting it off.
Don’t put it off anymore. Follow this amazing God!
In fact, let’s do this: Let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes…as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If you want to start this incredible relationship with Jesus…. ….and believe in what He did for you and commit your life to him (to make Him your leader & forgiver) and to become a FOLLOWER of Him… and to spend eternity in heaven w/ Him and NOT in Hell.
If that’s you…and you’ve never done this before…in just a few moments, I’m actually going to ask you to stand up. As a symbol…to say…this is what I’m living for now.
A symbol to say: This isn’t just something I mentally believe and this isn’t just an emotional experience…I WILL FOLLOW JESUS.
Everyone is going to have their eyes closed (no one’s looking), so this is just between you & God
So wherever you are, all across this room right now. If you’d like to become a follower of Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to just, courageously, stand up wherever you are.
If God is nudging your heart in this… …that’s Him. Answer this time. It’s TIME! This is what life is about. It’s why you’re here. Accept His forgiveness. Start a new life with Him. It’s amazing!
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at…again, the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
EVERYONE repeat after me with these new believers.
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life. Amen
AMEN!! Let’s just clap and praise God.
If you gave your life to Christ today, I need you to do 2 things for me
Right after the service today, I want you to go to the back of the room …for just a moment.
In the back there is a sign that says “FOLLOW-UP”
There will be some incredibly nice people there (they have lanyards on) who want to give you some extremely helpful tools to help you get started in your faith
Won’t take you very long. But absolutely go back there.
Also, if you stood up today, we wrote you a letter. It’s under your chair, and we’d love for you to read it before the service is over.
Let me just pray & thank God!
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.