Summary: This is the first in a series of sermons in which I discuss some of the many changes that take place when a person becomes a believer. According to scripture, when a person makes the choice to become a follower of Christ, they experience a life swap, as
Today at TLC we’re beginning a new series called “Life Swap”. Whether you’ve seen the show or not, most of you have probably heard of the show “wife swap”. On the show, two moms swap families for two weeks. And they always make sure to choose two houses with totally different rules, and expectations. It’s always a big change for those who are involved, and it takes some getting used to. Many times what takes place is that they just try to survive in their environment, until it’s time to go back home to the way things used to be.
In our series “life swap” we’re going to be talking about some changes that take place when a person becomes a believer. When we accept Christ as our Savior, He expects us to live by some different rules and expectations than we were used to before. But what makes this different is that, there’s no going back. These changes are intended to be permanent.
The Bible talks a little about this in II Corinthians 5:14-17. Let’s read it together. “Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though He were merely a human being. How differently I think about Him now. What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”
When a person accepts Christ, and begins a new relationship with Him, it brings about some permanent changes in their life. Or at least it should. When you become part of God’s family, the rules that we are expected to play by are different than they used to be when we were lost.
Over the next several weeks, we are going to be looking in Matthew chapter 5 at some things that Jesus taught regarding the expectations He had for His followers.
In this chapter, Jesus begins what is commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount. He begins by telling those who are listening that God will bless those who do certain things and have certain attitudes. For example, He says that God will bless those who are gentle, and merciful. God will bless those whose hearts are pure, and He will bless those who are persecuted because they live for God.
He goes on to tell them that they are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. He is not speaking to large crowds of curious people here, He is teaching His disciples who have chosen to follow Him. And while His rules appear to be a little different from those that were commonly practiced or understood, Jesus assured His disciples that He had not come to abolish the laws, but rather to fulfill them.
As we will see in just a minute, God holds His followers to a higher standard. When we begin a relationship with Him, and become a part of His family, He raises the bar of how we are supposed to act and behave.
Let’s begin this morning by looking at Matthew 5:21-26.
“You have heard that the law of Moses says, “Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.” But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. “So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.”
Jesus begins in verse 21, by quoting Exodus 20:13, “do not murder”. It’s part of the ten commandments. The Lord had given these instructions to Moses and He passed them on to the people. But there are a lot of people who do everything possible to live within the letter of the law, while the whole time, they are really living against the very principle that is behind the law itself.