The Upside Down - Matthew 5:17-20 - Nate Heitzig
Hello and welcome to this message from Calvary Church. We are excited to hear from our special guest speaker, Pastor Nate Heitzig. Nate serves as the executive creative administrator at Calvary Church. If this message impacts you, let us know. Email us at email@example.com. Mystory@calvaryabq.org And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give. Now, we invite you to open your Bibles as Nate begins.
Hey, I have a question for you. What is right and wrong? What is morality? What is good and evil? What is pure and impure? This is an important question for us to ask, because I think that in this day and age of eroding morals, in our day and age of constantly changing values, this question has never been more important. Who in here has ever seen a show called Stranger Things on Netflix? OK, we've got some Stranger Things fans. Who's a fan of Steve? Who's a Steve fan? We've got some Steve fans over there.
Everyone else is like, I don't know who Steve is. Who's Steve? I know Steve Collins, he's an archaeologist, but I don't know who Steve is from Stranger Things. Anyways, in this show called Stranger Things, there is two different worlds. There is the normal world. And then there is the upside down. Now, everything that exists in the regular world also exists in the upside down, except that in the upside down there is dark instead of light. In the upside down, everything is crumbling and decaying, everything is slowly being destroyed. In the upside down, it is filled with evil and terrifying creatures.
It's everything that's normal but upside down, it's just not right. It's different. Church, I'll be honest, sometimes when I look at the world today, I feel like we are in the upside down. Every day it seems like there are stranger things happening than the day before throughout the world today. Wrong seems right, and right seems wrong. The words of Isaiah in Isaiah 5:20 are just as appropriate to our generation as they were to his. "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."
Church, the very foundations of our society seem to be crumbling beneath our feet. And that's because I believe we, as a nation, have lost our way. We have left the foundational bedrock truths of the scripture, the understanding that the Bible holds the answer and the moral absolutes that this world needs. We've left that. We've left that foundation. We've left that understanding. And we, as a society, have completely gotten away from absolutes. Today, moral relativism is the rule that the world lives by. Whatever's right to you, is right to you. And whatever is right to me, is right to me.
But don't ever tell me that I'm wrong. Don't ever tell me that my way is wrong and your way is right, because you just don't know. That's the rule of our day and age. Now, the result of that is the massive problems that we face as we watch our society break down around us. And so today in our schools, you can hand out condoms but you can't display the 10 commandments. In our day and age, students can indulge in almost any kind of activity. You can have any kind of parade or celebrations, celebrating anything you want, but you're forbidden to preach.
Today, 67% of Americans recently polled say there is no such thing as right and wrong, 67%. An even scarier statistic, 83% of young Americans aged 13 to 25 say that morality is relative to the individual, 83%. And somehow we're surprised or shocked when riots break out in our streets. We're shocked when people that seem to be without conscience can murder others. We're shocked, we're appalled, when teenage boys have contests as to how many girls they can have sex with. In Jeremiah's time, it was said of the people, were they ashamed when they had committed abomination, no. They weren't ashamed at all. They didn't even blush.
Is this not an accurate description of our times as well? Is the world ashamed of the things that they're doing? Is the world embarrassed of the sin, of the situation, the state that it's in? No. They're not embarrassed at all. They're not even blushing. They don't even care. It's just commonplace. They're not even shocked when these things happen, it's just normal.
I read an article in a magazine that said, is there no more shame. Baring it all pays off big. And it said this, in the age of confessional talk shows, kiss and tell books, and self-esteem seminars, has shame gone out of style? Is the notion that someone can actually feel guilt, embarrassment, unworthy, or disgraced now passe? And so turn on the television and you're going to see sports stars bragging about their sexual conquests. You'll hear politicians talking about their abusive parents. You'll hear celebrities discussing their addictions.
And this openness has spread to ordinary folks who, for some reason or another, will go on television reveal the most intimate and private details of their lives to total strangers. Shame, as defined by the American Heritage dictionary, is a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace. But anything goes during our era of confession. TV talk shows, right, TV talk shows is this era's version of confession. So if you're having an affair with your wife's sister, just go tell Dr. Phil about it and make yourself feel better.
If you're a celebrity with an alcohol problem and an addiction to cocaine, just go on Celebrity Rehab and let the world watch as you fall in and out of addiction. And at the end of it, just repeat some phrases such as, to each his own or I just have to be true to myself, or if this helps one person, then it was all worth it. But church, the truth is that we don't want to stop. The world is going to continue in this cycle of sin doing what they want to do. And to be honest, it's kind of enjoyable for us to watch.
And so we're feeding it, watching it, giving in into it saying, yeah. This is just good TV. It's our party we can do what we want. We can kiss who we want. We can see what we want. But we can't stop. No, we're not ashamed. We live in a YOLO society. You only live once, so you might as well have fun while you do it. And as long as it feels good, it can't be that bad. So why try to stop? That's what the world is today.
We might be embarrassed. We might be surprised. But do we feel a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, unworthiness, or disgrace? I don't think so. There is a professor at a university in Ohio who said the let it all hang out mentality of the '60s and '70s released many of our inhibitions. It's good to question beliefs, he says, but like many others, he wonders if things have gone too far. People are becoming shockproof. People are becoming shockproof.
In the same study, they were talking about this reality that things that were clearly defined as sin 50 years ago, now people aren't quite sure. And so 50 years ago you take hot button issues like homosexuality or the use of marijuana, and 50 years ago, the majority of society believed that it was wrong. But fast forward 50 years now, and people aren't sure. It's whatever's right in your eyes is right for you. And whatever is right for me, is right for me. And there is no moral compass that we're judging the world by anymore.
Church, I believe there's only one thing that we can do. We need to get back to God's absolutes for our lives as laid out in the scripture. We need to get back to what the Bible says about life and Godliness. We need to get back to the bedrock truth and foundation that is found in no other name than the name of Jesus. It all comes back to God and what the Bible says about Him. And today, we're going to see that in this upside down world, Jesus turns things upside down.
Jesus came into this upside down world and he turned two things upside down. And we're going to see that today in our message. When Jesus gave this message, there was a similar kind of moral relativism that was taking place. People in his time were adding to and taking away from God's standards. And they were substituting it for their own. They had distorted views of what right and wrong was. They were so preoccupied with the outward that they lost sight of the inward. And so Jesus puts things back into perspective and he sets the record straight.
So let's look at our text and the first thing that Jesus turned upside down, the commandments. Look at verse 17 through 19. "Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of these scribes and the pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
Man, what a strong call from Jesus on this topic of righteousness. The first thing we see that Jesus comes into this world and turns upside down is the commandments. He turns the law upside down. Look at verse 17 with me again. It says, do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. Now Jesus here clears up a very common misconception in his day and ours as well, and that is the question, did Jesus come to do away with the law? Did he come to abolish it, to exterminate it? A question I get a lot is, are the 10 commandments irrelevant?
Is the Old Testament law irrelevant? Are we now living in a new era, a new season, a new covenant? And now the law and the Old Testament is just irrelevant and it doesn't matter anymore. The answer is no. See, the problem in these times was that they added to the law, many useless details in the process. They missed its purpose and its message. Jesus sternly told the scribes and the Pharisees that they invalidated the word of God for the sake of their tradition, Matthew 15:6. See, church, Jesus came to do better than to abolish or destroy the law. He came to fulfill the law and fulfill the heart of the law. And Jesus gets to the core issue.
Fulfill means to carry it out, to satisfy, to finish, or to complete. Church, we don't realize it, but we do the same thing today as the Pharisees did back then. Let me explain to you what I mean by that. We, a lot of times, think that if we do a certain number of things, if we achieve and act and perform these things, that that's going to make us righteous. That if we come to church, if we read the Bible, if we do good things, if we give, that that's going to make us righteous. And we believe that that is the benchmark to which we have to meet.
So you think you're good by going to church? Jesus came to do better than that. He came to fulfill the law so that God could be with you all the time instead of just once a week. Now God is living in your hearts, he's not living in a temple or a church. The law has been fulfilled. He did better than that. And now you get to experience the fulfillment of the law. You think you're good by reading the Bible? Jesus came to do better than that. He came so that the Bible might be fulfilled in his name. And you can do more than just read it, you can live it.
No longer is the law written on tablets made of stone, it is written on your hearts because he fulfilled the law. You think you're good by doing good things, Jesus came to do better than that. He came to show us that all of our good things are like dog poop compared to him. But if we accept the greatest thing ever done, we don't need to be judged by what we do, we can be judged by what he's done. He is the fulfillment of the law. He didn't destroy it. He didn't abolish it. He fulfilled it. And now our righteousness is not found in the law. Our righteousness is found in him, the fulfillment of the law.
Church, Jesus is the best of what we are. He's the best of what we are. And by coming in and turning the commandments upside down, by turning the law upside down, he did a couple things. First and foremost, he was made under the law. Now this is huge. This is important. You've got to grasp this. The maker of the law put himself under the law. The one who made the rules, the one who made the regulations, the one who said, this is black and white, this is right and wrong, said, I'm not just going to put these rules and regulations over you. I'm not just going to impose the law on you. I, myself, am going to come into the upside down and submit myself under the law.
And not just that, but I'm going to fulfill it in your presence. Jesus went into the upside down for you and I. And he willingly experienced everything that is difficult in this world, including temptation to sin and all the difficulties that come with that. We're told in Galatians 4:4, when the time was right, God sent forth his son made of a woman, made under the law. Not just that, this is the incredible part, not only was he under the law, but he also, throughout his life, obeyed it explicitly and perfectly.
And by the way, he's the only person to ever do that. He completely observed every single jot and tittle, every rule, every regulation. He fulfilled the law to the t. And he's the only one who could have ever done that. We're told in Hebrews 4:15, for we didn't have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who's been tempted in every way just as we are, yet he did not sin.
But there is a problem. Even though Jesus Christ came to this earth, put himself under the law and fulfilled every call that the law had upon his life, that still wasn't enough. See, even if you're able to do everything right, even if you're able to fulfill every aspect of what the law calls you to do, there still has to be a sacrifice. The Bible says, without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins. It doesn't say without the fulfillment of the law there can be no remission of sins. Without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins.
See, the law was meant to point the Israelites to the understanding that even at the end of the day, even at their best, there still had to be a yearly sacrifice. There still had to be a Passover lamb. There still had to be a scapegoat. There still had to be some shedding of blood to make up for all the ways in which their hearts were far from God. And so Jesus Christ not only put himself under the law, he took the penalty of the law.
Church, realize this, he who made the Heavens and the Earth, he who made the law, put himself under the law. He fulfilled and he obeyed the law. But then he looked upon all of us who were unable to do it, who were unable to obey it, and he said, hey, you know what? I'm going to take the penalty for them upon myself because I'm the only one who can. He made it, he observed it, and he paid the penalty for it.
See, the law, as far as the individual is concerned, was never meant to make one righteous. It was given to show us that we never could be righteous in our own ability and our own works. It was able to make us realize that there is no way I'm going to be able to do all these things. That's the point. That's God saying, yeah, that's right. That's the point. You can't do it. Someone else has to do it for you. Romans 3:19 says, "now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God."
Galatians 3:24 says, "so the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith." Church, when Jesus Christ died on the cross, he took the righteous requirements of the law and he paid the price that we could never pay. And as I was thinking about this illustration at Starbucks the other day, I was thinking about what the law looks like, what the punishment of the law looks like and what this image of Jesus Christ paying the price for that law looked like.
And I thought of a cup of water, a glass of water. And I'm going to illustrate this for you here in a second. I've got a few things here on this table. I've got a cup of water, or a cup. And I've got a little bowl filled with water here. And the cup signifies the law. Signifies the law. It holds something. It holds righteousness and it holds punishment. And so the water is both righteousness and punishment. As I scoop up the punishment and the righteousness in this cup, I maintain the righteousness as long as I am holding the cup.
My righteousness is determined by me being able to bear under the weight of the cup. And I don't know if you can tell, but I lift weights, so I can hold this all day long. Not really. Give me about an hour or two and my arm is going to start getting sore. And I'm going to no longer be able to bear under the weight of the law. It's going to weigh me down. It's going to pull me down. And what's going to happen, eventually, is the punishment is going to start coming out from the law.
Now, the only way to relieve myself of the weight of the law is to completely pour out the punishment. But there is a problem. As I turn that upside down and I empty it out, it's still not enough. Remember, there has to be something for that punishment to be emptied upon. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. It's not satisfied unless it's poured out upon someone, either myself or someone else.
And so Jesus steps in and Jesus says, hey, I know that you can't bear under the weight of the law, I know that you can't hold it forever. And I know, eventually, this punishment is going to be poured out upon somebody, so Jesus stood under the law in our place. And when the punishment of the law was poured out upon Jesus, he fulfilled it. [APPLAUSE]
As Jesus turned the law upside down an empty it of its punishment, and emptied it of its righteousness, in doing so, the law was satisfied. We no longer have to bear under the weight of the law. We no longer have to hold the law. We no longer have to try to find our righteousness through the law. Now you and I are no longer held by its rule. The law is emptied of its punishment through Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:13 says, "He has made you alive with Him." Having forgiven you of all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us, he took it out of the way and he nailed it to the cross.
And church, something beautiful happens that as we accept Him into our lives, He takes the law and He writes it upon our hearts. He writes it upon our hearts. And our righteousness, again, is no longer found from us holding the cup of the law and trying to fulfill and bear its weight. Our righteousness is found on the person of Jesus Christ, the same place that our punishment is found. Our righteousness is found on him. Jeremiah, in effect, says I'm going to make a new covenant with you. And the difference between the new and the old is going to be this.
I'm going to write my law in your minds and in your hearts. My law is no longer going to be written on stone tablets but on fleshly tablets of your hearts. And now our righteousness is found not in the law, but in Jesus. And then something else happens. This is where righteousness comes into play. Since our righteousness is found in Jesus, and since Jesus is living in our hearts, I then begin to obey the law, not because I have to, but because I want to. Because I want to. Because I desire to please God. Because I love God. Because He is living in me and it's no longer a set of rules that are decreed but it's a desire of my heart.
A scribe came to Jesus in Mark 12 and he asked him, what is the greatest commandment? And Jesus replied without hesitation, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. Church, if we love God, we will keep His other commandments, not out of decree, but out of desire. Here's this beautiful reality. We don't seek to live Godly lives to find or win God's approval. But it's because we realize that we have God's approval through Jesus Christ that we desire to live Godly lives.
Church, the battle that we're fighting isn't a battle running to approval, it's a battle coming from approval. You need to realize that you are approved. You are loved. You are chosen. You are equipped. You are anointed. God cares for you and loves you. And some of us have a hard time with this because we had daddy issues when you were a kid.
Maybe when you were a kid, your dad didn't tell you you were good enough. He didn't tell you you were strong enough. And you were always trying to do something to gain his approval. You were always trying to make your parents happy by doing a number of things, by getting good grades, by doing well in sports, by getting a job, by making money. And you're always looking at your life and saying, are you happy yet? Are you happy yet? Church, your Heavenly Father is not like your earthly father. Your Heavenly Father loves you. Your Heavenly Father has chosen you. Your Heavenly Father approves of you and loves you the way that you are. And you are chosen by Him. You are called by Him. You are equipped by Him.
Jeremiah says, "the plans that I think for you are of good, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Church, let's win the battle from God's approval, not trying to earn God's approval. You're already approved. You are approved by God when you accept Jesus Christ into your heart. You have his approval. The goodness of God leads us to repentance. We're not bound by rules and regulations. We are constrained by his love.
The Christian is no longer under the curse of the law. Jesus dealt with that. But now, we should fulfill the law by wanting to do the things that please God. The law tells me what is right and wrong, what is black and white. Grace enables me to do it. Grace is that which brings me to love God. And if I love God, I will keep His commandments. Jesus said, he that has my commandments and keeps them is he that loves me. Too many people today misunderstand forgiveness and grace. We don't understand it in the light of what it was meant to be.
So they abuse it. Romans 6 says, "shall we continue in sin that grace may overflow?" Or literally, that grace might go down the drain. God forbid. How shall they who are dead to sin continue in sin any longer? To sum it all up, church, God wants us to be truly righteous people, but not self-righteous people, not people trying to have an outward observance of righteousness, that we try to make ourselves look really good, and we tried to do a number of really good things. But with the true righteousness purchased by Jesus at Calvary that will come from a truly changed heart. And if Christ is truly in my life, then I will live according to his word, naturally. That's what's going to happen.
This answers the question that this text proposes. How can anyone be more righteous than the scribes and the Pharisees? How can anyone be more righteous than the prophets? How can anyone fulfill the law? How can anyone get to heaven? Here's the answer, all those people lived before the Resurrection and we live on the other side of the Resurrection. We can now experience righteousness found in who Jesus is not in who we are. And that is the answer to how we can be more righteous than them, because we have something they never had. We have atonement from the one true living God.
That's what we have. That's the answer to the dilemma. The whole purpose of this text is to cast to you this idea that it's not possible for you to do this. It's not possible for you to observe every aspect of the law. It's not possible for any of us to go to heaven if we're relying upon our own strength. It's not possible. The only way it's possible is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. This leads us to our second point. The second thing God turns upside down is the kingdom. Look at verse 20. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
I want you to understand the boldness of a call like this, and also how much this would have freaked out the disciples. This would have come as an incredibly shocking statement. Exceed the righteousness of these scribes and Pharisees? How could anyone ever even match the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, let alone exceed it? They kept every single rule and regulations, even ones that didn't exist. They added more rules and regulations to the really long list of rules and regulations. And they kept them all.
They were outwardly the most righteous people in existence. So the disciples would have looked at this and said, so Jesus, are you basically telling us that we're all going to hell? Because there's no way we can exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. So Jesus helps us to understand this radical statement by another one that he made. In Luke 18:9 Jesus said to some people who were very self-confident of their own righteousness, some Pharisees, who look down on everybody else, Jesus told them this parable.
"Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other was the tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and he prayed about himself. God, I thank you that I am not like other men, robbers, evil doers, adulterers, and this tax collector. I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of all that I get. But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn't even look up to heaven. But he beat his breast and he said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Church, God practices an upside down kingdom. And those who are haughty in spirit will be brought low. But those who are humble with recognition of how messed up they are, realizing they are sinful, those will be exalted in the Lord's eyes. God will lift up the humble and he will cast down the proud. It's worth noting that this Pharisee did more than even the law required. For instance, there is no demand found in the Old Testament that men should fast twice a week.
In fact, in the Old Testament, it only asks for one fast a year. And the irony of the situation is this, at the very moment that the Pharisee thought he was at his strongest, in God's eyes, he was at his weakest. And at the moment the sinner, who thought he was at his weakest, crying out for mercy, he was strongest. Church, when we think we're at our best, spiritually, when we think we're the cream of the crop, when we think we're more righteous than anyone else, God looks at us and that's when we're at our weakest because we're relying upon our righteousness. We're relying upon our good works. We're relying on the things that we've done that make us look good to other people.
But to God, he says, man, that's just self-righteousness. You're at your weakest. But when we're on our knees, in our eyes at our weakest, begging and crying out for the mercy of God, saying God, I can't do it. I'm not righteous enough. I've messed up too greatly. I've blown it too much. There's no way that I can possibly pay for my sins. God says, ah ha, you finally get it. Now you're at your strongest. Now my power can work through you and you can be something and do something that you never could have if you were doing it on your own. Now you can experience righteousness that a Pharisee never could.
See church, God doesn't see as man does. And just how we can feel like we live in an upside down world as the world morally crumbles beneath our feet, we need to realize something. We might live in an upside down world but God practices an upside down kingdom. And the way to win is to lose. The way to rise is to sink. The way up is down. Jesus said to the lukewarm church of Laodicea, before you say I am rich and have prospered and I need nothing, not knowing that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.
Charles Spurgeon said the way to rise in the kingdom is to sink within yourselves. I mean, the prophet Samuel was looking for a King for Israel. He was impressed with the appearance of the strapping and handsome Eliab. And God told him, do not consider his appearance or his height for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.
Come on, can somebody who hasn't been in the gym for a few months give me a shout of praise? God doesn't look at our bellies, he looks at our heart. Give me another Krispy Kreme donut. And you say, well, Nate, we don't judge people's righteousness based on their physical physique. We don't? I would challenge you and say that we do. We tend to judge a person by the way they are outwardly. We see them in church reading their bibles, lifting their hands in worship. We hear their prayers and we say, oh, they have the best prayers.
Oh, I see them every week. They're serving. They look so good. All must be perfect in their life. And then we find out months later that they were caught in adultery. Or we find out that they were addicted to drugs, or that they were beating their wife and their kids. And we look at them and we say, how is that possible? They looked so good. And all the while, God wasn't looking at the outside like we are, God was looking at the inside.
If you want to find out what kind of a person you really are, you can find the answer when you're alone. You can find the answer in your thoughts, in your desires, in your imagination. This is what God's getting at. It doesn't matter how good you look on the outside. It doesn't matter how much you know on the outside, what's going on inside? Because inside might be a completely different story and God doesn't really care about the outside, he cares about the inside.
It's the state of your heart that is important. It's what you think. It's what you desire. It's what you say to yourself that matters, not what you say to the other Christians who sit next to you on Sunday. It's what you say to yourself. See church, our hearts are worship factories. And we are constantly worshipping something. It's possible to be in church worshipping God and still be guilty of idolatry in our hearts. Let me help you understand this.
You can have a good desire that can quickly become an idolatrous desire in your life if it becomes more important to you than the chief desire which should be of our hearts, which is to love God and live called according to his purpose. So there is a great desire to care for your family, to have a job. It's good to have a job and not be lazy and sit on your couch all day. You might need to hear that. But it is good to have a job. It's good to provide for your family.
It's good to put food on the table and put a roof over their heads. But if that desire becomes your chief desire, and all you're doing in life is looking for the next promotion, the next raise, the next rung on the ladder, you want the nicest car in the neighborhood, the nicest house, you want the nicest things, and that becomes more important to you than caring for your family emotionally, than caring for your family spiritually, than loving God. If your quiet times start to slip, you stop coming to church and your relationship with God suffers because of your desire, maybe a good desire to care for your family, that good desire's become an idolatrous desire.
And you are guilty of idolatry where you could even be worshipping God, because a good desire has become an idolatrous desire. Church, we have a tendency to do a multitude of things under liberty in Christ. Who has heard a Christian use liberty in Christ as an excuse to sin? Well, bro, I've just got liberty in Christ. Stop judging me. Don't judge what I do. It's just liberty. Now, although we have liberty in Christ, it's possible for a good or a grey desire to quickly become an idolatrous desire. If that becomes more important to us than being righteous. Let's make it personal.
Let's take drinking, for instance. There's nothing wrong with having an occasional glass of wine as a Christian. There's nothing wrong with having a drink every now and then. Despite what you heard growing up in church, there's nothing biblically wrong with that. However, if by drinking you are crossing a spiritual boundary in your heart, you're crossing a line that the Holy Spirit convicts you of, or you're crossing the line into drunkenness, that grey desire becomes a sin.
Or if you become so prideful in your liberty in Christ that you want to make other people feel bad for not thinking the way that you do, or we cause another person to stumble because of our views, then that desire's become idolatrous in our lives. I still don't understand why Christians will post pictures of beer and liquor but they'll never post pictures of look at this Coke. This Coke is so good. This Coke is like a vintage Coke. Or this water.
Why is it that that's the only drink that we post pictures of? People are posting pictures of beer. This IPA is so good. You've got to check it out. We don't do that with anything else. Why? Because it's natural tendency for us to gloat in our liberty. Hey, I have this liberty. And you don't have that liberty. You should have that liberty. This is a great liberty. That grey desire has become an idolatrous desire.
Any times it becomes more important for us to indulge in desire, whether good or bad, than it is to be righteous, that desire becomes idolatry. Remember this, every man and every woman has a God. Something or someone that they live for. Some pursuit in life that they get passionate about. And the true but terrifying thought is that a person can attend church on Sunday, can worship with everyone else, and be a full tilt idolater.
You and I can be in this place right now and be listening to these words and nodding our heads and agreeing with them and still be guilty of idolatry. The question is, who or what is your God? It might be the one true God. It might be the pursuit of pleasure or possessions. It might be you, you're your God. Your God might be morality. Your desire might be that you would look really good and that it would be like spiritual weights. And you're over at defined fitness flexing those weights and looking at your guns and wondering, I wonder who else sees my muscles. But you're flexing your spiritual muscles.
You're following the law. You're doing good things. And you're hoping everyone else sees. I wonder if they see how spiritual I am. I wonder if they see how big my spiritual bicep is? I wonder if they realize how good looking I am to the world? How righteous I appear? And your God is morality. But everyone has a God. Now, perhaps the most awful and subtle form in which this law is broken is by hypocrisy. Jesus said in Luke 6:46, why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say?
The Pharisee we read here, in this story, this Pharisee who stood on the mountaintop and prayed to God who said, Lord, I'm so thankful that I'm not like all those sinners. I'm so thankful that I'm so righteous and I fast and I tithe. It's the worst kind because it's an unconscious one. It's an unconscious sin. I want you to realize this Pharisee thought he was doing right. This Pharisee didn't realize that he was guilty of the sin for which he was accused. He didn't know he was a hypocrite.
He thought he was the picture of spiritual health. So much so, he was boasting about it to God himself. Church, the problem with Pharisees is that they would major on the minors. They were more interested in details than principles. They were more interested in actions than motives. They were more interested in doing rather than being. And it is the principle, not the action only, that matters. Addressing this attitude at a later date, Jesus said, you hypocrites. Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, these people draw near unto me with their mouth. And they honor me with their lips. But their hearts are far from me. In vain do they worship me. What they knew, they didn't accept.
Church, there are some today who are false worshippers, not because they're worshipping a false God but because they're not applying what they know. Their hearts are far from God and so their worship is void. It's worthless. And I'll point out, people like this are the hardest to reach with the good news. They're the hardest people to break down the wall, the barriers that they have. Give me somebody who's destitute, who's realized the depravity of their sin. Give me somebody who's depressed, who's cutting, who's suicidal. Give me somebody who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, who's experienced the pain that sin brings, that person knows they need something, they just don't know what.
And the second a Christian can shine the true light and love of Jesus Christ into their lives and open up their eyes, they're eager and ready to accept that free gift of eternal life. But you try to tell someone who thinks they know everything something, you try to tell someone who thinks they're perfect that they need Jesus Christ, it doesn't work. They think they can earn their salvation. There's nothing we can say they don't know. And rules and rituals enable people to be spiritual when they're not, so that someday they get to heaven and God says, hey, what did you do with my son? They say, well, I did good things. Well, I prophesied. I did miracles. I went to church.
And God says, yeah, but your heart was far from me. Depart from me. I never knew you. Man, what a wake up call that's going to be for some people who really thought they were doing it the right way. They really thought that they were making the right decisions but it wasn't from the right heart. Church, make no mistake about it. Religion can be a deadly trap. Religion can damn people to hell just as surely as immorality. The motive for giving and serving isn't to receive, it's because I've received.
I've received the love of Christ and that's why I serve. That's why I give. That's why I do good. The Pharisees and the scribes were concerned with external and they ignored the internal altogether. And the tragedy was although they studied it, copied it, and proclaimed it, they never really let it hit their heart. These men were trusting what they had done for God rather than what God had done for them. The hypocrisy of the church is way worse than the profanity of the street.
To pray and not to practice, to believe and not obey. To say Lord, Lord, and not do what he says. This is to take his name in vain. Again, that passage I mentioned, Jesus said, "on the final day some would say, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? And in your name cast out demons? And in your name, do many miracles? Then I will declare to them, I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness."
Notice that he says, you who practice lawlessness. They would say they were practicing the law. And he says that's lawlessness. See, the difference is their law was found in doing rather than in being. Jesus came to fulfill the law. We practice the law by accepting Jesus not by doing all the things the law says. We practice law by accepting Jesus. Church, all this points out is that God's desires that first and foremost, our hearts and our attitudes would be right, then proper action will follow, then outward righteousness will manifest itself.
But we've got to have the inward righteousness of Jesus Christ before we can ever practice the outward righteousness. Church, I don't know that things have ever been darker spiritually in our culture. It's so tempting to retreat into the church, into the subculture that we've built, believing there's nothing we can do. We live in a culture full of blurred lines. It's hard to tell right from wrong, to tell fact from fiction. It's hard to tell good from evil. We live in an upside down world, but God has called us as believers to turn our upside down world upside down, therefore making it right side up.
Acts 17:6 says, "these who have turned the world upside down have come here too." So church, what about you? Has your prayer life become dry? Do you feel like you're lacking something in your spiritual walk? Is the world turning you upside down instead of you turning your world right side up? The way to solve that isn't to try and clear your own eyes to find the right way to say, well, I just got to do better. I just got to practice righteousness more. I just got to try to pick myself up and be better.
The only way to clear our eyes and see clearly is to come to Christ and let him be the fulfillment that you are craving. Church, just as he fulfilled the law, he can fulfill your desires. He will fulfill your thirst for joy. He will fulfill your search for peace. He will fulfill your desire for knowledge. He will take away your sadness. He will take away your pain. He will take away your anger. And He will give you life, love, and light. He will bring you hope. He will restore the years that the locusts have destroyed.
And you can have something that you never could have had apart from Him. So I think it's time for us, church, to stop trying to do it ourselves and to start doing it God's way. Maybe you are here today and you think you're pretty good. You think you're hot stuff. You think you're pretty righteous. And you're looking at the person next to you saying, man, this person really needs to hear this message.
Maybe you're sitting there and you say, man, I'm messed up. I'm hurting. I'm broken. I cannot do it. I'm a sinner. I'm never going to be as good as this person. You know what we all have in common, both of us, regardless of which seat you sit in, the self-righteous seat or the seat realizing that you're broken and hurting? Is that we all just need a little more Jesus. We all just need a little more repentance. We all need a little more forgiveness. We all need to experience the grace and the fulfillment of the one who took the punishment and the righteousness upon himself.
Lord, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the truth that is revealed in it. God, we desire to be truly righteous people, not self righteous people tricking ourselves into thinking we're OK or we've done it, but truly righteous people founded in the righteousness that only you can bring the righteousness that was on the cross, your death, your Resurrection, that is where our righteousness is found because that is where the punishment was poured.
God, I desire that my life would be a sweet smelling aroma to you. Help us as a church to shine a light into the darkness. And as we're praying right now, as you have your eyes closed and your heads bowed, perhaps you've heard this message and you realize that you need Jesus Christ. You're lost. You're hurting. You're alone. And you realize that if you were to die today, you wouldn't go to heaven but instead you'd go to hell. But you want to leave this place knowing that when you die, you're going to hear well done, good and faithful servant. Not, depart from me I never knew you.
If that's you today and you realize your need for repentance, your need for righteousness, that righteousness is found in Jesus Christ. And today, you can accept him into your heart. You can know that you're forgiven. You can know that you're loved, called, equipped. You can know that you're appointed for greatness. You can know that you're approved. All you have to do is ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart.
If that's you this morning and you want to accept Jesus into your heart, you want to know that your sins are forgiven and that when you die, you're going to go to heaven, can you just raise up hand so I can see it. You're saying, Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus. Amen, right here. Right there, couple of you to my left, over here to the far left. In the back. Over here in the center. Up in the balcony. In the family room over here to my left, if God is calling you right now, you respond to him, amen.
Maybe you're here and you say, man, I'm a pretty good person. I've got it all together. But you've got it all together outwardly. And you know that when you get home at night, your thoughts, what's going on inside, you know that your heart is far from God. And although you might have the world fooled, you don't have God fooled. And today, here in this place, you want to rededicate your life to Him. You want to come back to Him. You want to experience the joy you once had that you have lost.
You want an injection of passion into your life back into your prayer life. If that's you and you want to rededicate your life to God, I want you to raise your hand up and you say, I want to come back to him. Amen, right here. Over here. Raise your hand up. Amen, amen. Lord, I thank you for all the hands that are raised right now, God. I thank you for the heart that is behind those hands, people, Lord, acknowledging their need for you. Their need for forgiveness. Lord, I pray that you would help them put feet to their faith, practice what they have heard preached, Lord. And make a stand for you.
In Jesus' name we pray, amen. Hey, will you stand? We're going to close. We're going to sing a song. I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hand, either if you raised your hand accepting Christ for the first time or you raised your hand wanting to rededicate your life to Him, regardless of this is a first decision or a second decision or 100th decision, I want you to get up from where you are. I want you to come down here to the front. And I want you to say a prayer with me to accept Jesus Christ. Come on, let's give them a round of applause.
You come and you say, Nate, well, I'm fine raising my hand in a dark room where no one sees, but you want me to actually take a step of faith to come forward? I do. And here's why. If you can't stand for Jesus in a roomful of people that love him, how are you going to do it in a world that hates him? And you say, well, my friend thinks that I'm a Christian, what are they going to think? Guess what? Your friend didn't die on the cross for your sins. Your friend can't get you to heaven. Your friend can't forgive you. Only Jesus Christ can forgive you.
And you're not getting your life right with your friends. You're getting your life right with Jesus. So you come right now. If you raised your hand, God is calling you. We're going to sing this song as we do. Whether you raised your hand or not, if you need forgiveness today, you come. Let's sing this together.
[SINGING] This is amazing grace. This is unfailing love.
Come on, let's get loud.
[SINGING] That you would take my place, that you would bear my cross. You laid down your life, that I would be set free. Oh, Jesus, I sing for all that you've done for me.
Come on, church, there's more people coming. Keep it up. We're going to wait for you. If God is calling you, you come right now. God desires a relationship with you. What are you waiting for? What's holding you back? You might think that you've got too much sin. God can forgive you of your sin. And He can replace that with righteousness. I've never met anybody who's too bad to go to heaven, but I've met a lot of people who are too good to go to heaven. They think they're too good. Don't let your righteousness be a barrier for you and your relationship with Christ.
Don't let time be a barrier for you and your relationship with Christ. You say, well, I've got more time. I'm going to give my life to God next time. You might die of a heart attack tonight. You might get in a car accident on the way home. And if you were to stand before Jesus today and he said, what did you do with my son? Would you hear the word depart from me, or welcome? Let us all hear those words, welcome, well done, good and faithful servant.
You leave here with the knowledge that you know when you die, you're going to go to heaven. Don't wait any longer. If God is calling you right now, you come. We'll keep clapping and we'll keep cheering for you. Amen. You come. And you say, well, what am I going to have to give up? I'm going to have to give up all the fun things I do in life. You know what you're going to have to give up? You're going to have to give up pain. You're going to have to give up desperation. You're going to have to give up striving. You're going to have to give up self righteousness.
Hey, any ex-self-righteous people in here who can admit that it's exhausting trying to be self-righteous and do the right thing all the time, it's exhausting being self-righteous. Experience the righteousness of God. Give up the striving. Give up the pain. Give up the feeling when you wake up in the morning and you despair of even life and experience the joy that only Jesus Christ can bring. We're going to wait a second longer. If there's anyone else who wants to give their lives to Jesus, who wants to know that they are going to heaven, you come right now.
God is calling you. Don't push that call away. Don't be like the Pharisee where you think you've got it all together, where you think that you're OK. Don't fool yourself. You're not fooling God. Stop trying to fool yourself. You come right now. We're going to sing this one more time and give you an opportunity. If there's anyone else who wants to get their life right with God and join this group of people as they make a profession of faith in Christ, anyone else, you come right now.
[SINGING] This is amazing grace. This is unfailing love. That you would take my place. That you would bear my cross. You laid down your life, that I would be set free. Jesus, I sing for all that you've done for me.
Amen. Well, hey, right now going to pray with this group of people who have come forward to accept Jesus Christ. And I'm going to ask you to say a prayer. It's a simple prayer. All you're going to be doing is acknowledging that you're a sinner, that you're messed up, which, welcome to the family. We all do, myself included. We're all messed up. You're acknowledging your sin and you're acknowledging the sacrifice of your Savior who died on the cross for your sins who rose from the dead. And you're asking him to fill you up and forgive you of your sin.
So as you say these words, I want you to say them out loud. I want you to see them from your heart. And I want you to say them to the ears of Jesus. Let's say this together. Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you. But Lord, I believe you died on the cross for those things. And I believe that you rose from the dead. So Lord, I ask you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin.
I turn from my old life and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to live for you. In Jesus' name I pray, amen. Come on, church.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church, featuring our guest speaker Nate Heitzig. How will you put the truth you learned into action? Let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ab And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.