Summary: Many people in the church have not ungone a change of their heart. So we believe the right things, do the right things, and avoid doing the wrong things...what more does Christ want from us? He wants our Hearts!
The Necessity of a Changed Heart i Introduction:
I was always taught that change does not come easily, and I believe it. You’ve heard old sayings like, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I grew up in what people would label as a dysfunctional home. My parents were constantly fighting and my father is an alcoholic and abusive. My parents divorced in my early teenage years. I was told that because of that it was likely that I would also have a drinking problem and that I would get divorced. They were saying that no matter what I did I couldn’t change who I was or who I would become. I understand that statistically children who grow up in dysfunctional homes end up repeating their parent’s folly. I think it is sad that society as a whole does not call for individual responsibility. If I ever have problems in my life it would be perfectly acceptable for me to blame them on my upbringing and it would be accepted in our society as a valid excuse. I think that wrong is still wrong no matter what. You’ve heard people say regarding things like homosexuality and alcoholism that people were born that way. Society may say that children who grow up in a bad environment will produce a bad environment and repeat their parent’s mistakes or that people are born with certain genetic tendencies, but one thing they can never account for is a life change or a heart transformation. I was told what I would become, but no one took into account a conversion, of Christ changing me inside. However, I am a big believer in change. I believe change is necessary.
I have heard many people attempt to discern what the root problem is for issues in the church. People have sought to learn why church members are inactive in their attendance, unfaithful in their giving, absent in their serving and the fruit of the spirit and the mind of Christ nowhere to be found in their lives away from the church buildings. I myself have often wondered why it is that some that call themselves Christians can say and do and for that matter neglect to say and do the things they do. I have wondered why watching Christians handling their children, marriages, conflicts, finances, and difficulties in life in no way are different from watching their non-Christian counterparts. I have wondered endlessly why the only way I can tell some people are Christians is because I see them attending church services a few times a week. I think I have the answer. The answer is because Christ has not penetrated to some people’s hearts.
In many ways I believe this message this morning is the most important message I have preached to the church, and perhaps will be. The point I want everyone to grasp is that we need to move beyond head knowledge and let Christ reach our hearts. I am convinced that there are many in the church today that are deceived. There are many that are deceived into thinking that if they believe the right things then that makes them okay with God. Understand this, what we believe does matter, but if it never reaches our hearts than it is useless. Paul did tell Timothy to “watch his life and doctrine closely, for in doing so it will save both yourself and your hearers.” Why is that what we believe in our head matters? It is not to conform to a certain criteria or checklist of beliefs, it is because what we think influences how we act. There are many in the church that thinks they are in good standing with the Lord because they believe the right things. The problem Jesus had with the Pharisees was not their set of beliefs, they had head knowledge of God, they knew the Bible well, and they could quote Scripture better than many of their day, yet Jesus still had a problem with them. What more did he want from them?
Also there are many in the church that thinks that if they do certain things at certain times they will be in good standing with the Lord. There are many that assume that because they attend church, give tithes and offerings and read the Bible every now and then that they are saved. Let me tell you, doing the right things alone does not make us saved. I believe there are certain things which Christians should do, but I see that we do them more because we want to and less because we have to. We are not saved by any good deeds that we do, and even doing the right things and the right time we can be lost. Is that not what Jesus taught in Matthew 7, “many will say to me on the day Lord, Lord did we not prophecy in your name and in your name drive our Devils?” They thought they were saved because of the things that they did. Do you remember Jesus’ response? “Depart from me you evil doers I never knew you.” Why was he so harsh? Weren’t they doing good things? Yes, they were, but it wasn’t about just doing certain things. The Pharisees did a lot of good things. They prayed regularly, the fasted more than the Law required, they gave sacrificially, they attended worship services more than most do, they observed the right holy days and feast days, they brought the right sacrifices and yet Jesus still had a problem with them. What more did he want from them?