Summary: So many so-called Christians are only Christians outwardly, what needs to happen is a Transformation of our heart.
(All my sermons use illustrations found at www.sermoncentral.com and all scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted)
Recently I took my children to see the new Transformers movie, I had already seen it in 3-D, but they had not seen it so we went and truly enjoyed the family time together. I guess seeing a movie 2 times, made me start thinking about the depth of the movie, because I came away thinking about how neat it would be if we could transform into something we would like to be. Then, after prayer one morning, this sermon starting coming to me, transforming is exactly what we need! If you really think about it, transformation is the theme of many a story we enjoy. The Hulk, Captain America, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, X-Men, The Ugly Duckling & even Scrooge are all stories of a person truly changing. We are a people that enjoy seeing others change for the better. We want to see others find their way, so to speak, to be something that they only dream of. Whether that be a Cinderella who is a lowly house maid into a Princess, or a skinny weakling turn into Captain America, we enjoy seeing them change. We cheer for them as they become what it is that they are not, we feel their pain as they deal with the adversity of being less than they want to be. BUT, we are not a people that embrace change when it comes to ourselves. Most of us know that there is something not quite right in our lives and so we strive to be “better,” to correct some behavior, or act a little nicer.
The usual remedies involve some sort of shaping up on our part, some sort of face-lift whereby we clean up our act and start behaving the way we should. Jews try to keep the Law. Buddhists follow the eight-fold path. Muslims live by the five pillars. Many Christians try church attendance and moral living. You’d think, with all the effort, humanity would be on top of things by now. Of course, the reason all those treatments ultimately fail is that we quite misdiagnosed the problem. The problem is not our behavior; the problem is IN US. Jesus said,
Matt 15:19-20 For OUT OF THE HEART come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'"
We don’t need an upgrade. We need transformation. We need a miracle. ( taken from Waking The Dead, John Eldredge, p.58-59)
This morning I want to talk to you about the need for REAL transformation, why we need it and why we struggle to see it. The Apostle Paul really sums things up in
Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
First let’s tackle the question of why we as a people struggle with seeing real transformation in our lives.
I. IT’S A HEART THING
I think a big part of the problem is that we feel that there is something wrong with us and we can fix it. We act as if we have enough strength, if we focus better, if we work harder, if we try more, then we can fix the problem. BUT, the truth is we cannot fix the problem, only Jesus can. There is no amount of discipline we can muster that will fix the problem of sin in our hearts. There is no ceremony or amount of time that can create in us a new heart, but Jesus can. Paul tells us in Romans 2:28-29 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.
Or in other words, we are not Christians by the act of Baptism alone, it is not something that happens outwardly, in appearance, BUT something that happens inside our heart. Paul goes so far as to say it: and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, it’s a heart thing. We are only changed, transformed when our heart is changed. Jesus told us that we MUST BE BORN AGAIN! (John 3:3) we must be transformed, but it is not something we can do on our own. It is not something that is done physically, outwardly, cosmetically. It is done inwardly, it is done by God and it is a changing of the heart. Look at this Psalm from the Living version of the Bible: