Relevant: Sick Leave
Sermon Summary

This message continues the look at Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. It deals with the topic of the root cause of sin. Jesus said if your right eye causes you to sin it would be better to pluck it out. He said the same about the right hand. However, it is not the eye or the hand that cause the sin. The cause of sin comes from inside that part of us that makes decisions and wills to do this or that. It comes from the spiritual part of us we call our soul or our heart. We know the brain houses that reasoning, thinking part of us. So the answer to our sin problem is not physical surgery but spiritual surgery. The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God will work this miraculous surgery if we will allow Him to do so.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Have you ever heard your doctor say you needed surgery and how did that make you feel at first? Did you follow his or her advice and why?

2. Jesus used a very graphic illustration to show us the absurdity of thinking we can fix spiritual problems with physical surgery. Read the following words and then discuss why Jesus was not telling us to literally get rid of our hands and eyes when we sin. (Hint:If and causes)

Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

3. We have spiritual issues that require spiritual surgery. Every single person who ever lived, with the exception of Jesus, has done wrong and failed to live up to what God intended them to be. Sin so damages our original spiritual heart that we need a spiritual heart transplant. This happens when we admit we have done wrong, need a Savior, believe Jesus gave His life in order to be that Savior, and sign the consent form by calling on Jesus to save us. Do you remember when you first realized you needed a new heart and allowed Jesus to perform the surgery? Tell us about that experience.

Romans 10:8-13 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

4. Once we receive our new heart, we need to make sure we exercise that heart so it can remain spiritually healthy. Read what Paul said to young Timothy and then tell us some of the things you do to keep your spiritual heart healthy.

1 Timothy 4:7-13 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

5. Now the hard truth: We don't always exercise or eat like we should! Not physically or spiritually. There are times we may find ourselves in need of Spiritual Angioplasty! We may have ungodly things clogging our spiritual arteries. If we find ourselves in this condition, we don't have to fret, we haven't lost our salvation, but we must allow The Holy Spirit of God, through the teaching of God's Holy Word, to repair our heart. The effectiveness of our lives and our ability to experience the joy of our salvation depends on keeping our spiritual heart free and clear of blockages so we can be open to God's leadership. The Psalmist new this first hand. Read his words and then discuss how his words indicated the need for a spiritual angioplasty.

Psalm 51:1-17 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


Full Sermon Notes

"You rescued me, so i could stand and sing, I am a child of God!" Rescued us from what? Before Jesus, we were slaves to our sin, its consequences, the fear of judgement, the fear of rejection, and you could probably add some things that you've struggled with. But the beautiful things is we have a Great Physician who knows how to heal us and rescue us from all those things and more. But here's a hint to what today's message is all about. We've got to sign the consent form to allow Jesus to do some spiritual surgery in our hearts, minds, and lives. Let's pray and ask God to open our hearts to His truth and how He desires to help us. Let's pray!

Father God, I confess, I don't have the words, the wisdom, the ability, or the power to bring a message that will truly change lives. That's why I depend on You totally for the preparation, organization, and delivery of each and every message. I always need You to inspire and anoint what's done in the study and then what's presented in the service! I thank You in advance for what You will do today in the hearts and lives of the people here!

Today we continue looking at our Lord's Sermon on the Mount. I hope you've been able to see just how relevant His message is to our lives in 2016! Last week we talked about the words Jesus spoke that indicate just how important our mental, emotional and spiritual attitudes are. Jesus continues this line of thinking and then uses a very graphic illustration to make a point! Let's read Matthew 5:27-30

Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

If you could fix a spiritual condition with physical surgery, then you would be smart to take some sick leave and get it done! The problem, is you can't. You have to notice the language Jesus used. He said, "If your eye causes you to sin," and "if your hand causes you to sin." He says if, because the physical eye and the physical hand may carry out the sin, but they don't cause the sin! The eye and the hand receive instructions from your brain, so the cause is hidden somewhere in there! Here He uses the example of adultery. Once again, the teachers of the law and the religious leaders had ignored the intent of the law and were using the letter of the law to get around the intent of the law. Here's what was happening...

God wanted people to realize how sacred and special the marriage relationship and covenant was. He wanted them to honor that commitment for a life time. He did not want them to take another person's spouse. But the intent went further than that, He didn't want them coveting and lusting for another person's spouse. But here's the warped way the wicked religious leaders were interpreting this. The Broadman Commentary put it this way...

"The rabbis tended to reduce the concept of adultery to sin against the property rights of another Jewish man, adultery being limited to illicit sexual relationship  
with the wife or betrothed of another Jew. In this view, seduction of a single woman or of a non-Jew's wife was not considered adultery."

Now let me ask you, do you think that was the intent of God's original commandment? Absolutely not! We have a way of twisting things to say what we want them to say. The Broadman Commentary goes on to say this...

"Jesus saw adultery as sin against any woman, as something destructive to the offender, to the offended, and to marriage, and as first of all a matter of attitude or intention. "

And here's a major point Jesus was trying to make. Temptations come in all shapes and sizes. What is a temptation to one, may not be to another, but every person is susceptible to some kind of temptation! Here's the deal. It is not the temptation that is the sin, but it becomes sin when we give in to that temptation by giving mental consent and permission to our mind to dwell and desire the sinful act. We all face temptation. Jesus faced temptation. But He knew better than to succumb because He understood the consequences and ramifications! He had a higher purpose that over road any temptation. He knew He had to keep His eyes on the goal of His life and why He had come to this earth in the first place. Should we not should follow His example in this, keeping our eyes on our purpose, His purpose? Paul put it this way in his letter to the Corinthian Church. This verse is one of my life verses...

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

And what is the way out? It starts out with spiritual surgery.

You Need a Heart Transplant

We must let The Great Physician do a spiritual heart transplant! Yikes! What did you just say? Heart transplant? I need a heart transplant? Yes! We all do! Remember, it's not the eye or the hand that originates evil action. It comes from that part of our brain that is our spiritual heart. Our spiritual heart is that soul part of us that houses our will and our emotions. Back in the Old Testament we find the Israelites in exile. Their hearts had grown so hard and cold towards God, they were like stone. They had allowed the pagan influences of the neighboring countries and cultures to tempt them and they were drawn away. The depth to which they fell into wickedness was shocking. So God allowed them to be exiled to the very nations they had envied. In other words, He let them get a taste of what they thought they wanted, first hand! It wasn't all they thought it would be! Yet many of them remained hard hearted towards the things of God. But God wanted to redeem them. It broke His heart to see them in their deplorable spiritual condition. So here's what He told the prophet Ezekiel to tell them...

Ezekiel 11:17-21 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you
have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’ “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Let me say something about those last two verses first! If you don't want a new heart, God will not force you to have the surgery! He  will let you go your own way and do your own thing and suffer the consequences of your choices, if that's what you insist on. It will break His heart, but He respects your choice and your will so much that He will not force you to accept His offer of a new heart. Within these verses we see what is sometimes called the covenant formula. "They will be my people, and I will be their God!" What is implied here is the word "if". God says those who allow Him to do the heart operation will be His people and He will be their God. But He says those whose hearts are devoted to vile images and idols have chosen other gods instead of Him. We see this concept all over the Old Testement.

Joshua 24:14-15 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Getting a new heart is what happens when a person chooses to have faith in God! God convicts our heart by way of His Holy Spirit and His Holy Word, and we admit we've done wrong and need someone to save us from our sins. Paul put it this way in Romans 10:8-13...

Romans 10:8-13 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

So the person makes a decision to believe Jesus died on an old rugged cross in order to save them. They trust that He gave His perfect life in exchange for their imperfect life. Then they sign the consent form for a spiritual heart transplant by committing their life into His hands and asking Him to give them a new heart and a new purpose in life! This changes everything!! Now, of course we do not become perfect once we get the new heart! Our new heart has a new motive, a new Lord, a new purpose, a new desire, but there's still that old nature, some of the old thoughts and memories and temptations that hang out in other parts of our brain. That old nature is not happy about our new heart and the new boss! It will put up a fight. Daily. But what did Paul say? God will make a way for us to overcome the temptations. The first step is the heart transplant, and once that happens our soul is saved for eternity, but for that heart to remain spiritually healthy and strong in this life, it will need spiritual exercise.

You Need Spiritual Cardio

Your physical heart is a muscle and that muscle needs exercise to make it strong and healthy, and we all know the condition of the heart effects every thing else in your body. It's the same with our spiritual heart! It needs exercise and it effects every aspect of your life! I like what Paul told young Timothy who was being trained and mentored by Paul.

1 Timothy 4:7-13 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

There are some very powerful things in Paul's instructions that your spiritual health depends upon. The first thing Paul tells Timothy is to avoid godless myths and old wives' tales. There are just some things that we need to avoid. There are no redeeming qualities to some activities. Sometimes we go to our physical doctor and they tell us to change our diet. That can be just as true spiritually! I would encourage you to ask The Holy Spirit of God to show you the things in your life which you need to avoid, and then avoid those things. I'm not going to make a list for you, if you're listening, God will tell you, and you will know. Avoiding the things that can damage or weaken the heart is an important part of good spiritual cardio!

So rather than wasting our time on unhealthy things, we should spend our time training to be godly. And what are some of the exercises that should be a part of our spiritual cardio training? Paul gave Timothy several in these verses. He said you should…

Exercise Control over your Speech
Exercise Godly Wisdom in how you Live
Exercise Genuineness in Love
Exercise your Faith by Trusting
Exercise your Faithfulness in Purity
Exercise your Understanding by Study
Exercise your Witness by Sharing
Exercise your Leadership by Teaching
 
 
I think each one of those things Paul mentioned could be an entire sermon. That would be a sermon series. Stay tuned, that may happen. Now I've got a tough question for all of us! How many of us exercise faithfully in all of those areas Paul mentioned? How many of us, when it comes to our physical health always eat right and exercise like we should? Now I know that some of us are more disciplined in our gym attendance than others. But it's not always easy is it? I mean we're all really busy people! There's work, hey, we've got to make a living, right? Then we've got chores at home and then there's the expectations and needs of our family and others. And if you're a student, it's off to school, then homework, and we've got to make a little time for the video games, texting our friends, and connecting on social media! Ok, what's my point. If we don't exercise and eat right physically, our doctor may someday come in our room after a heart test and tell us we have some blockages that need to be repaired. The same is true of our spiritual hearts.   

You May Need a Spiritual Angioplasty  

Angioplasty is a procedure that repairs or unblocks a blood vessel in an artery leading to the heart or in the heart itself. Science is still trying to discover exactly what cause the buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart. But they do know a person's DNA, their eating habits, and their exercise, or lack thereof, are contributing factors. Spiritually speaking we have known for years that a person's ancestry, and upbringing, may have an impact on what that person struggles with. However, we also know that no one has to be bound by those things. We have choices given to us by God that allows us to overcome our spiritual DNA through His Divine Power! This starts out with our acceptance of His mercy and forgiveness! We are then given the ability to consume a diet of Godly truth, Godly wisdom, Godly understanding, Godly compassion, and Godly leadership through His Holy Spirit! We also have the power, through His Holy Spirit, to exercise and grow strong in our spiritual heart. However, as I said before, our new heart doesn't make us perfect in this world.

Sometimes a person may slip back into the unhealthy habits of the old nature. Plucking out your right eye, or cutting off your right hand will not fix that problem. Why? Because you'll still have your left eye and your left hand. And if the problem was a bad temper and you punch someone with the right hand and get rid of it, then you hit them with the left hand and get rid of it there's still a problem because you'll just kick them and before you know it, you'll be limbless, and then you'll just give them the look, and yikes, you know what that means…pluck, pluck! The answer to spiritual problems is not physical surgery. It's spiritual. So if you've had a spiritual heart transplant and you find your self with some blockages, what's the answer? Spiritual Angioplasty! King David was a man whom God loved deeply and considered David a man after His own heart. But David committed some awful sins and found himself in the need of spiritual angioplasty! We find this in Psalm 51:1-17.

Psalm 51:1-12 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

(Notice, David had not lost his salvation, but he had lost the joy of his salvation. He needed the joy of his salvation to do the work God had called him to do and he couldn't do it with all of the sin blockages in his spiritual heart. He said, if you can clean my heart and return my joy, then…)

Psalm 51:13-17 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

The sacrifice God wants from you is a broken spirit and a contrite heart. He will not despise you when you come to Him with your sin, no matter what it is, if you are spiritually broken and sorry for what you've done and if your heart is contrite. Contrite means you have remorse and desire to change your ways! God will lift you up in His arms, hug you and say welcome home my child! I can fix this!

One of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture paints a picture of God and His relationship to His children. It looks like this...

Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart...

Let's pray!