November 1, 2015 Speaker: Chris Hall Series: What HE Said: A Guide for Living in the Kingdom of God
Topic: Default Passage: Matthew 5:8–5:8
If you have a pure heart you can know God and experience genuine, Christian community.
1. A Good/Not-So-Good Lunch
Troy invited his three friends to lunch. He said "order what EVER you want 'cause I'm buying!" They were at a first class steakhouse and ordered the finest cuts possible. He ordered some excellent wine and soon the food arrived perfectly grilled and were tender, juicy and straight up amazing.
The conversation was a blast with jokes flying back and forth. As they drove home, the first friend could still taste the steak and smiled a satisfied smile. It was a good time.
When he got home he noted the front door being cracked open. Nobody was supposed to be home so it was a little strange. Upon entry, things were off. He went to his room and all his valueables were gone. He'd been robbed!
As the police dust for prints he texts one of his buddies from lunch and tells him what happened. Dude calls him immediately: "The SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME!" His house had also been robbed. They call their third lunch friend and he didnt' answer. Went to voicemail. Couple minutes later he calls back. Said he couldn't pick up because he was talking with his city's police department since he was robbed. They call Troy but get voicemail. No answer.
As the days wear on they never heard from Troy. But they heard from the police. The three different police departments began to piece together something startling: That Troy was part of a crime syndicate. And he was gone.
Now all three of those friends will agree wholeheartedly that the steak they ate tasted good. The conversation was good. The entire lunch was good. But knowing the bigger picture and Troy's impure motives they also agree that it wasn't utlimately a good lunch.
It truly tasted GOOD but wasn't truly GOOD.
2. The Human Condition
That lunch points to our condition as humans. We are created good in God's image (Genesis 1:27). We bear the image of God (the "imago dei"). We are capable of doing some pretty amazing things--good things!
Yet, because of the truth of sin, every aspect of me--the totality of who I am--is corrupted by sin. My nature AND my actions. My heart AND my hands. My thoughts, desires, body, dreams, intellect and even my motives. Every department of every person is corrupted (to some degree or another) by sin and God's Word, the bible, exposes the truth of sin to us (Ecclesiastes 9:3; Ephesians 4:17-18; Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 10:7-14; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19; Proverbs 10:20; Proverbs 28:26; Romans 1:28-31; Titus 1:15-16).
So the totality of who we are is corrupted by sin but we are not completely corrupted by sin. Our steak truly tastes good but isn't truly good.
What this means is that we can do some good things but that none of our actions can ever be good enough to give us the right to stand before a holy God. We don't deserve to call Him Father. We deserve death, hell and eternal separation from Him.
Yet we are capable of doing good things thanks to the fingerprints of God that remain on us.
Our disease has a diagnosis: "DEPRAVITY"
The reason even one little old sin can cause us to deserve such a fate is because...well, there's no such thing as "one little old sin". Jesus tell us that it's not "just a sin", but that it's actually our slavemaster and that we are slaves to it (John 8:35).
How do we move from committing a sin to being full on slaves to it? Paul helps us see how that is true in Romans 1:18-32. It's worth some study on your own.
 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
We depend on created things (people, objects, power, jobs, money, sex, etc) for comfort, hope, peace, provision and on and on--All the stuff we should turn only to the immortal God for! In a nutshell, we are experts at worshipping false idols. God gives us what we ask for and those idols take over and rule us. We became slaves to sin. We DEPEND on that source of comfort, hope, peace or provision. We need it. We can't live without it.
Symptoms: DEPRAVITY DEMANDS DEPENDENCY (I SO wanted to claim that line but when I googled it I found out Joe Thorn already used it, so credit Joe.)
With that corrupted nature and with those corrupted actions, we see our relationship with God AND our relationships with man are broken too. Our sin has broken our vertical relationship (with the Father) and our horizontal relationships (with our fellow man). Our impure motives get in the way of trust and intimacy. But this is NOT how it's supposed to be in God's Kingdom!
3. Clean Hands, A Pure Heart
A Psalm of David.
The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
Psalm 24:1-6 shows how it's supposed to be: Clean hands, pure hearts, ascending the hill to see and know God. God desires that we would know Him so that He may be glorified as He deserves to be. But because of our unclean hands and impure hearts, we cannot ascend that hill.
But Jesus did.
Jesus lived a life free of sin. He trusted the Father over created things. He was obedient in the face of much persecution. Both His heart AND His actions were pure. He lived the perfect life we cannot live. He carried the cross up the hill. He died the horrible death we deserved. He saw the and knew the Father.
4. In Christ We Can Ascend the Hill Too
As Christians we base our entire faith upon that basic Gospel message of what Christ accomplished. It's the Gospel that we need in order to treat our disease of depravity.
The treatment plan for our disease sounds familiar: DEPENDENCE
Dependence on GRACE transforms every aspect of the totality of you and leads to GRATITUDE.
We trust what He promises to do (no more sin or death, etc) because we believe that which He's already done--shown us GRACE. It was grace demonstrated on the cross that creates a place for us in the presence of the Father. It's grace that fuels our daily walk. It's grace that helps us work through the sin that remains in our lives. It's grace that shapes our relationships. It's grace that teaches our hearts to love.
Grace works because it leads to gratitude. That is the secret ingredient--maybe the secret byproduct is more appropriate way to think of it--of grace. A thankful heart responds differently. A thankful heart falls down at the thrown of grace. A thankful heart looks on other people with love, joy and peace.
GRATITUDE changes things. Religion doesn't.
The thing about motives is that people can't see them. You can do religious stuff and use churchy language yet still have impure motives. That is a belief problem, not an action problem. Our belief shapes our action. So the answer isn't to just be nicer to people, the answer is to depend on the Gospel. Change happens from the inside out.
GRATITUDE for the Gospel changes your motives and leads to pure actions. Romans 12 tells us to "let our love be genuine..." Genuine love has gratitude at its core. Gratitude changes motives and leads to pure actions. It doens't work the other way around. That's what the Pharisees were known for: empty religion that ultimately leads to death and separation.
GRATITUDE accepts, forgives, evangelizes and creates trust, transparency & love.
When the Gospel is applied to every aspect of our lives we see gratitude take over and relationships restored (with both God & His kids): That is what life in the KINGDOM OF GOD looks like! Gospel-centered community is where everyone can experience belonging, where truth is spoken in love, where sin is confronted and where motives don't have to be questioned.
This kind of GOSPEL-CENTERED, GRACE-FUELED, GRATITUDE-TRANSFORMED community is where we most clearly "SEE GOD". We know Him best in community called "the church". Together we live with the promise that one day Christ will bring about a world where the steak will truly taste good and will be truly good. THAT will be a lunch to remember.