Don't Stop Believin' - Exodus 20; Matthew 5 - Nate Heitzig
You gotta hear this song.
Everybody said it. Everybody's heard it. It doesn't matter what age you are, certain songs just have that timeless quality, and so do certain biblical truths. And just like every generation discovers these songs, every generation needs to discover these truths. Mixtape, fresh perspective on timeless truths.
Well, good morning and welcome to Calvary. Go ahead and pre-mark your bibles to Exodus Chapter 20, as we launch into the first message of our short summer series, Mixtape, and as you do, let's go ahead and open up in a word of prayer, but a special prayer. Franklin Graham just recently asked-- he's asked church leaders and pastors around the country to take a little bit of time today to pray for our president.
And whether you agree with him or not, you agree with his policies or not, the Bible says that we are to pray for those who are in leadership over us. And I believe that if we as the church pray for those, whether we agree with them or not, that we will believe that there is going to be change is going to happen in this country, there's going to be growth that's going to happen in this country. So will you join me for a second as we say a prayer for our president along with 250 churches and pastors around the country today?
Lord, we lift up our president to you, Lord, President Trump, God. And we just ask right now that you would speak to him, that you would guide him. Lord, we know that your word says that every leader who is in power has been put there by you. And so Lord, we believe that there is a plan that you have in everything. And we just ask and pray that you would use President Trump to accomplish your will, Father.
We pray that you would provide with him people alongside him who will speak wisdom and truth and righteousness into his life, Lord, and that he would make wise decisions for the betterment of the country, for the betterment of each and every person who lives in this country, for each and every man, woman, and child who calls this beautiful country home. And Lord, we just come together alongside so many other churches and just ask and pray that you would lead him and guide him. Protect our president and help us to be good citizens as we encourage and support. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Exodus Chapter 20 Verse 1 through 17 for a message called don't stop believing. You know, throughout the world today, wrong seems right, and right seems wrong. Have you noticed that? The words of Isaiah are just as appropriate though to our generation as they were to this. In Isaiah 5:20, he said, "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."
It doesn't take much to look around and realize that the very fabric, the very foundations of our society are crumbling beneath our feet. All you have to do is go on your favorite social media, pick your poison. You go on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, go on USA Today, go on any news site, and we really quickly realize how fallen the world around us is.
Our hearts break this week for those 12 families who lost a loved one, those 12 people who were killed in Virginia Beach in that senseless act of violence. And what's so sad and depressing is it's not even shocking anymore. It seems like there's so many senseless murders, acts of violence. Our hearts break as we have people who are experiencing the loss of homes and loved ones in the floods that are happening right now around the country.
And there's just so much that seems to be happening in the world around us. And I believe, at least for some of these things that are happening, it's because we as a nation have lost our way. We no longer are built on a solid foundation of knowing the difference between right and wrong. That moral foundation came from our faith in God and our understanding of his word, and it's all but vanished in our current day and age.
See, we all must have a set of absolutes to live by. The only way there can be growth as a nation, the only way that there can be progress as a nation is if we have a set of absolutes that we live by, a bedrock truth, if you will. Otherwise, why is your definition of truth and your definition of right and wrong any better than mine?
See, the whole idea of moral relativism, of absolute truth and how some people say there is no absolute truth, the whole argument is a self-defeating argument to begin with. You've probably heard it said, but if someone tells you, there is no absolute truth, that begs the question, is that an absolutely true statement? It's a self-defeating argument to start with.
We all must have a set of absolutes, a bedrock truth to live our lives by, a grid by which we operate. But we as a society have gotten away from absolutes. Moral relativism is the rule of the day. And the result of this is the massive problems we face today as a country, as a society, as a generation, as everything around us seems to be breaking down.
In an article from the Boston Globe about moral literacy that was released almost three decades ago, it said this. "It started when William Kilpatrick, a professor of education at Boston College began noticing what he would come to call signs of moral illiteracy among his students. They were talking about the 10 commandments, and he wanted to list them on the board, and it wasn't that individuals couldn't think of them all, he said. The whole class, working together, couldn't come up with a complete list."
And he pointed out that the modes of values, clarification, and decision making that were introduced in schools in grades 1 through 12 throughout the US and Canada started out with the purpose to avoid indoctrination at all costs. They wanted to avoid indoctrination. They wanted to avoid people being indoctrinated with the truths of scripture. And because of those decisions that were made decades ago, today our schools can hand out condoms, but they're forbidden to display the 10 commandments.
Students can indulge in almost any kind of activity they want, but they're forbidden to preach. According to research done by Barna Group, 67% of American people say there is no such thing as right and wrong. And it's even more startling the younger you trend. 83% of young Americans age 13 of 25 say that morality is relative to the individual.
Now, I hate to break it to you, but it doesn't even get that much better in the church. According to that same study, 41% of practicing Christians, practicing Christians-- this means people who go to church, people who sing the songs, people who consider themselves practicing Christians, not just cultural, oh, yeah, I'm a Christian-- 41% of practicing Christians agree with this statement, whatever is right for your life or works the best for you is the only truth you can know.
And yet, we're somehow shocked when riots break out in the streets, when young boys and girls that seem to be without conscience can murder others, when teenage boys have contests to see how many girls they can sleep with. In Jeremiah's time, it was said of the people, "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, nor did they even know how to blush."
Isn't this an accurate description of our day and age as well? It seems as though our children, as this generation, as our society is being faced with attacks on their morals and faith at an unprecedented rate. There's professors and teachers who are going out of their way to challenge the faith of young Christians. Friends, the media, the people that our kids look up to, the stars that they follow on Instagram are challenging, are pushing, are adverse to their faith and their beliefs.
Turn on the television set, and you'll see sports stars bragging about sexual conquests. You'll hear about politicians talking about their abusive parents, celebrities discussing their addictions, and this openness has spread to ordinary people, who, for some reason or another, will freely go on live television in front of America and reveal their deepest, darkest secrets in a terrible phenomenon known as reality television.
I mean, we even have a show where you can go into the jungle for 20 days completely naked, and America can watch you. I don't get it. I don't understand what the appeal of that is, why somebody would want to do that. The answer is because we live in a YOLO society. You only live once. So you might as well have fun while you're doing it, but people don't realize when you die on Earth, you live again, but the decisions you make on Earth determine on where you're going to live, Heaven or Hell.
But we live in a society that tells us whatever you want, it must be good for you. We need to get back to God's absolutes for governing society as a whole and our lives as individuals based on the scripture. See, it all comes back to what God says and what the Bible says about God.
And so today, we're going to look at this topic of absolute truth, and we're going to discover what our response to absolute truth should be. And my call to you is simply this. Don't stop believing. Don't stop believing, even when the world tells you that what you believe doesn't make sense, even when society tries to draw you down and cause you to do things you know you shouldn't do, even when it's hard, even when it's difficult, even when it doesn't make sense, don't stop believing. Don't stop believing.
Don't give up. Find your truth. Find your reality. Find your life based upon the word of God. Now if I was to speak on this subject at a university or to a roomful of atheists, I would approach this very differently. I would approach this whole topic probably not really referencing the Bible much. I would use logical fallacies, the teleological argument, the veracity of scripture.
But I'm approaching this topic today with a predetermined supposition, and that is this, that everyone or close to everyone in this room believes that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, that it is God-breathed truth, it is God speaking to us through his word, and I'm basing everything I'm saying today off of that truth. So if you agree and you believe that the Bible is the inerrant God-breathed scripture that he is given to us, why don't you let me know by round of applause?
Good. Because of that, again, everyone or close to everyone believes that in this room, I'll be using scripture as the chief evidence for what I'm saying today. Now, with all this in mind, let's go ahead and dive in and see what right and wrong is, because God clearly gives us the guidelines we desire and seek in life.
Let's turn to Exodus 20, and we're going to read verse 1 through 17. We're not going to read the entirety of this, because I just really want to see the commandments. For some of these commandments, there is a lot of other stuff surrounding it. I just want to kind of get to the core of what this is telling us, God's absolutes for society.
Verse 1. "And God spoke all these words saying-- 'I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth.'" Look at verse 7. "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." Verse 8, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." Verse 12, "Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God has given you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."
Now, today, we're really just going to look at the first two commandments that are here in Exodus, because it's my belief that the first two commandments is which all the other commandments stemmed from. And I believe that if we have the first two commandments in order, as we're going to see today, the others will fall into place.
So we're going to focus on the first two commandments. Then we're going to flop over to another part of scripture, and we're going to see what Jesus says about the 10 commandments and their relation to our life today. But our first point we see is the commandments for righteousness. And here are listed simply, clearly, God's absolutes for us to live by. Now, I want to point out, these are straightforward. They're clear. They're concise. They're very to the point. There's no skirting around these and saying, well, I think what he actually meant was-- no, they're very clear, concise, to the point, and also relatively simple.
There's only 10 things that are listed here, 10 things that God commands us to do in these tablets written in stone, these truths, these absolutes that we're supposed to govern our life by. It is a grid to live by, a clear set of absolutes, whereby we may know right and wrong, good and evil, true and false, up from down.
In the close of the book of Ecclesiastes, the preacher says after reflecting and looking back on his wasted life, he says this. "This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments," that is these commandments. "Keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man."
That is to say that if a man or a woman keeps God's commandments, their life, their entirety, their existence, they will be a whole man or a whole woman. Now, Solomon, the author of this, himself, knew what he was talking about, because he saw what a life out of balance looked like. He experienced what a life lived in rejection of the commandments of God, in rejection of the word of God led to.
He tells us nothing my eyes desired did I keep from them. Well, that's coveting. He said, I had concubines. Well, that's adultery. And the list goes on and on. And he came to the end of his life doing what he wanted to do, breaking the commandments and will of God, and he said it was all vanity. It was all fruitless. Nothing led to where I wanted it to lead.
Understand this. If you violate these, your life will be out of balance. And we come now to the first of the Ten Commandments, and this is really the root from which all the others stem as I said before. As a matter of fact, I found that most people who find themselves stuck in sin are there because they failed to follow the first two commandments. They've allowed things to creep into their life. They've allowed desires. They've allowed addictions. They've allowed things to sit upon the throne of their life, and those things have become idols for them, and they have left the true worship of God, and they are now worshipping something else.
And I believe that if we truly keep God at the center of our heart on the throne of our lives, then everything else, in general, will fall into the proper place as we seek to live righteous lives. Verse 3, God says, "You shall have no other gods before me." Here in verse 3, God gives us the object of our worship. And that is this. If God is who He claims to be-- and as I already asked, and the majority of this room agreed with me, that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, that it is God-breathed scripture, it is truth for our lives, and according to the truth of scripture, God says that he is the one true God, the name at which every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, if God is who He claims to be in His word, then He must be supreme within our lives. First and foremost in our lives before everything and everyone else, God must be in control.
Now, what does it mean to have another God before Him? You know, we tend to think of idolatry and idol worship as some ancient practice where people in loin cloths would lie prostrate before some big idol, some big carved image, some big statue of like maybe like a three-quarter goat man with wings, and we're like, man, you know what, I have never had the struggle to worship a goat-winged man. That's not a desire of mine. I don't sit up at night, saying, Lord, please take away my desires to worship goat-winged men. Like that's not a struggle of mine. It's not something that I have a hard time not doing.
And so we think, well, I'm not guilty of idle worship, because I've never struggled with worshipping carved images. But it's much broader than that. See, an idol is anything or anyone that takes the place of God within our lives. It can be the love of yourself.
Romans 1:25 says, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and they worshiped and served created things rather than the creator, who is forever praised. They made God into an image like corruptible man." Now, this is a false teaching that is very prevalent in the world today, where we have, in essence, fashioned the living God into our image. We as a society like to make much of what we've done, what we've accomplished, our medical or scientific achievements, the buildings we build, the careers we have, the money we make, the things we do, the achievements that we, as mankind, as society have done.
We like to talk about how good we are, how incredible the things we've created are. See, the first creature that man substitutes for God is himself. And instead of glorifying and worshipping God, man attempts to deify himself, to make much of himself. Voltaire said, "God made man in His image, and man returned the favor." A more modern translation of that, Kenneth Copeland said, "You don't have a God in you. You are one."
Another form of idolatry can be the worship of our own bodies. Come on. Where are my gym rats at? There's nothing wrong with being healthy. It's actually really good to eat well. It's good to exercise. But for some people, it can become an obsession, where all they do is want to be in the gym, pumping that iron, getting that swole bod on. They want to sit there and look at their biceps as they flex in the mirror. As they're doing that, they want to look around and make sure that everyone else sees how ripped they are, how oily their bodies are, which is kind of gross actually.
But it becomes an obsession for some people. There's nothing wrong with being healthy. It's actually good to be healthy. But if the desire to be healthy, the desire to be fit, the desire to be seen, the desire to have that sexy body becomes chief within your life, that desire becomes an idolatrous desire.
It can also be the God of pleasure. This is extremely common in our day and age. As a matter of fact, if you want to find out who or what your God is, you can find the answer when you're alone with your thoughts, with your desires, with your imagination. If you want to know who your God is, you can find it on your iPhone in your Safari search history. What is it that you spend time at night searching and wikipediaing and googling? You can find about looking in your bank account where your money is going.
These are all ways that we can find what it is that our God is. See, our hearts our worship factories. And we are constantly worshipping something. This thought of self gratification is so rampant in society. Society tells us that if you want it, it can't be that bad for you, which is a stupid idea to begin with.
Who decided that we get to decide for ourselves what's good for us? Try telling that to your toddler, who when they so desire and want to grab that boiling hot pot of water and pour it onto their heads, try to tell them, hey, Mom, Dad, just let him do it, because if they want it, it can't be that bad for them. Let him crawl around in the backyard and pick up that dog poop and put it in their mouth and eat it, because if they want it, it can't be that bad for them.
And who are you to decide what's good for them? If it's natural, if it's naturally desire, then just let him have it. No, that's irresponsible parenting, nothing more, nothing less. Just because you want something doesn't make it good for you. And yet society tells us that if you want it, you should have it. There's a current song by Ariana Grande that says, "I want it. I got it. I see it. I like it. I want it. I got it." It's all about just getting whatever you want. So I want new shoes, I got it. I want new hair, I got it. I want new cars, I got it. I want rings for me and all my friends, I got them.
And it's all about just giving into what you want. Anytime it becomes more important for us to indulge in a desire, whether good or bad, than it is to be righteous, that desire has become an idolatrous desire. As I said before, most people I've found trapped in sin, it's because they failed to allow God to reign on the throne of their heart unopposed. They've allowed something else, some desire, some want, some pursuit to creep into their heart and wedge its way in between them and their relationship with God, and that has become the chief thing that they now worship, maybe some addiction, some substance. Maybe it's drugs or alcohol.
Maybe it's the pursuit of money or pleasures. Maybe it's working out and looking really good or having all the newest, nicest clothes, or driving the nicest car, being seen as some status symbol between them and who they want the world to think they are. Something has creeped in, and it's rooted in the fact that Jesus isn't ruling and reigning upon the throne of their lives.
This is the case for the things that we ingest, the things that we eat or drink, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the places you go, the people you spend your time with, the person you're choosing to date. It's also possible for a good desire to become idolatrous. That might surprise you, but it's possible for good desires, even righteous desires to become idolatrous desires.
Let me give you an example. The desire for the people around you to be righteous is a good desire, right? We should desire that our families are righteous, that our kids are righteous, that our spouse is righteous, that our friends are righteous, that the people in the church are righteous, that our president is righteous, that society is righteous. That's a good desire to desire people to be righteous, but if that desire causes you to gossip about them, to have hatred towards them, to be unloving or unkind towards them, to be angry with them, then that good desire has become an idolatrous desire, because you are now more focused on being right than righteous.
Our hearts are idle factories. Philippians 3:18 says, "For there are many whose lives make them the enemies of the cross of Christ. These men are heading for utter destruction. Their God is their own appetite. They glory in their shame, and the world is the limit of their horizon." Maybe its pleasure. Maybe that's your God. The Bible says that, "She that lives for a pleasure is dead while she is living."
Look, sin is pleasurable. Sin feels good. That's why the word pleasure is used, but it's an expensive cost. It's an expensive price to pay. The Bible speaks of the pleasures of sin for a season, but it tells us the wages of sin is death. There's, again, the God of possessions. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters, for either he will love the one and despise the other." You cannot serve God and money.
Or it can be the God of a hobby, the God of something that you just enjoy doing or like doing, maybe a sport, a career, a pursuit. You know, it blows me away that whenever a football season starts, church attendance drops. I just gotta catch that game. It's my team. You don't understand, it's my team, my team. I've got bumper stickers galore. I've got all the jerseys. I know all the players' names. Well, can't you DVR? No, no, no. It's not the same unless it's live. I got to watch it.
That could become an idol, the hobbies that we have, maybe a car that you own. But remember this. Every man, every woman has a God, something or someone that they live for, some pursuit in life that they can get passionate about. Bob Dylan said it best, "You gotta serve somebody." It may be the devil, and it may be the Lord, but you're going to have to serve somebody. The true but terrifying thought is that a person can attend church on Sunday, can worship every Sunday, can know every lyric to that obscure Hillsong song that no one knows all the lyrics to, they can wear that "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelet, they can have a million bumper stickers on their car that say that they love Jesus, and yet, they could be a full tilt idolater.
The question is who or what is your God? It might be the true God, or it might be the pursuit of pleasure or possessions. It might be yourself. But everyone has a God. Now these commandments-- and there are nine more-- represent God's absolutes that we are to live. And maybe you're saying at this point, as I found most people usually do when they start feeling uncomfortable, when they hear some things they don't agree with, that challenge the way that they think they should be living their lives, they usually try to argue that the other person's point is invalid. And say, well, something you're saying must not be adding up, because I shouldn't feel this way right now.
So maybe at this point, you're saying, Nate, isn't this all Old Testament? I mean, aren't we under a new law and a new covenant with Jesus Christ. Didn't Jesus Christ come to do away with the law? I thought we weren't under the weight of the law anymore. Well, this really leads us to our next point of what Jesus has to say about this. So we're going to play the Jesus card now. Turn to Matthew 5:18-20 to see what Jesus has to say about the 10 commandments as we dive into our next point, the requirements of righteousness.
Turn to Matthew chapter 5, and we're going to look at verse 18 to 20, Matthew 5:18-20. It says this. "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 the scribes and the Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
Here in Matthew 5, Jesus takes it a step further, and he gives us the requirements for righteousness. We saw the commandments for righteousness. Now, we see the requirements of righteousness, and he lets us know that not only are the 10 commandments still valid, and we are to obey every single one of them, but the requirement in order for us to reach heaven is that our righteousness would exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees.
Now, this would come as a shocking statement to the disciples. Exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees? Who could even measure up to their level of righteousness, let alone, exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees? Well, Jesus helps us to understand this radical statement by another that he made, and I'll give you a hint. It's not about what you look like on the outside.
To some who are confident of their own righteousness and look down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable in Luke 18. "two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisees stood and prayed about himself. 'God, I thank you that I'm not like the other men, robbers and evil doers and adulterers, or even like this text collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all that I get.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not 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."
Are you starting to see the picture of what Jesus is talking about here in Matthew 5? It's worth noting that this Pharisee, this man did more than even the law required. He was so holy and righteous, he not only met all the requirements of the law, he added a few just to make sure he was safe, like fire insurance. He wants to make sure that he's good when he stands before God.
For instance, there's no demand in the Old Testament that men should fast twice a week. In fact, the Old Testament asked for only one fast in an entire year. And the irony of the situation was this. At the very moment that this man, this Pharisee thought that he was strongest, thought that he was most righteous, in God's eyes, he was at his weakest. And this sinner, the tax collector, who at this moment, where he was his weakest, crying out for the mercy of God, it was in that place that he was his strongest in the eyes of the Lord.
See, God doesn't see as man does. God doesn't view righteousness the way that man does. The way to win is to lose. The way to rise is to sink. The way up is down. When the prophet Samuel was looking for the next king of Israel, he found this strapping, handsome, strong, tall young man that he thought for sure was going to be the king, 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 man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
See, 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 eloquent prayers. We say man, anyone who talks to God like that has to be a Christian. We see there "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelet from circa 1992, and we say, man, you've had that for like two decades. You really must love Jesus. Jesus must be your homeboy.
We see the million bumper stickers in the back of their car talking about Turner burn and the fish sticker, and we say anyone who would put that many stickers on their brand new Tesla must love Jesus. That person must have a relationship with Jesus. All the while looking at their life saying, all must be well, all must be good, because of what we see on the outside. And then one day we find out that they were in adultery or addicted to drugs or beating their wife or their kids, and we're so shocked. How could that be? Everything looked so good.
But all the while, God was watching what they were inwardly. Perhaps the most awful and subtle form in which this law is broken is by hypocrisy. Jesus said, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say?" See, the Pharisee was the worst kind of hypocrite because he was an unconscious one. He didn't even realize who he was. He thought that he was the picture of spiritual health, so much so that he was boasting about it. Lord, I'm so thankful that I'm not like all these bad people.
The problem with the Pharisees is they would major on the minors. They were more interested in details than principles, more interested in actions, instead of motives. They were more interested in doing rather than being. See, it is the principle, not the action only that matters. Actions should follow a heart change, not vice versa. We shouldn't ever have all these actions and look good and do these things while our heart is void.
Addressing this attitude at a later date, Jesus said, "You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you saying these people draw near and to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. In vain, do they worship me." See, what they knew, they failed to accept or obey.
And there are some today who are false worshippers because they do not apply what they know. And I'll say that people like this are also the hardest to reach with the good news, because they think they can earn their salvation. They actually think that they are in the process of doing so. There is nothing we can tell them they don't already know. There is no verse you can quote to them that they don't respond, well, doesn't it say in the chapter before-- rules and rituals enable people to feel spiritual when they're not.
And now we're starting to see the full picture here of Matthew chapter 5, that these people, these Pharisees who did everything, even things they didn't have to do, even that wasn't enough, and Jesus said hey, your righteousness has to exceed the righteousness of the most righteous person, which in essence, Jesus is giving you kind of a leading question, saying, hey, do you think it's possible to do enough things to get into heaven? Think again.
Your righteousness has to have something in it that not even the scribes and the Pharisees have. What is that thing that your righteousness, that your life must have that they don't have? The answer is something inside, instead of just something outside. Make no mistake about it. Religion is a deadly trap. Religion can damn people to Hell, just as surely as immorality can.
The motive for giving, the motive for serving, the motive for loving needs to be because I've received something, not in order to receive something. The Pharisees and the scribes were concerned with external, and so they ignored the internal altogether, and the tragedy was though they studied it, copied it, proclaimed it, it never really hit their heart. These men were trusting what they had done for God, rather than what God had done for them.
And believe me, when I tell you, the hypocrisy of the church is far worse than the profanity in the street. So before we look at the world and say, well, the world needs to change, the world is so lost, the world is so broken, we need to look in our own hearts. We need to ask God if there's any hypocrisy within our own hearts. We need to ask God if there's any idols in our own hearts, anything that we've let supersede our relationship with Him. We as a church need to focus on the purity of the church before we can focus on the world outside.
We need to focus on changing who we are, so that what we have, the light that we have so shines before men that they desire to have the life changing message of the gospel within their lives. To pray and not to practice, to believe and not to obey, to say, Lord, Lord and not do what he says, that is to take his name in vain, to invoke his name but not obey his word. God desire that first and foremost, our hearts and our attitudes would be right.
So if the 10 commandments are valid, and if the only way we can work our way into heaven is by outworking the hardest workers, what hope do we have? Well, let's look at verse 17 of Matthew 5. And we find the answer in our final point, the fulfillment of righteousness. Look at verse 17. "Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill."
Jesus now clears up a misconception held by some in his day as well as ours. Did Jesus come to do away with the law, to get rid of it, to abolish it, to exterminate it? Are the 10 commandments irrelevant today, or do they still have a place within our lives? See, the problem in these times was that they added to the law many useless details in the process. They missed its purpose, and they missed its message.
Jesus sternly told the scribes and the Pharisees in Matthew 15:6 that they invalidated the word of God for the sake of their tradition. I want to let you know, Jesus came to do better than to abolish or destroy. Jesus came to fulfill. And even on its best day in the Old Testament, even if you kept every single one of the 10 commandments, that still wasn't enough. There still had to be a fulfillment, a sacrifice, a propitiation for your sins. Even if you followed every jot and tittle of the law, you still had to find a lamb that was without blemish or spot, and that lamb had to die for your sins. That blood of that lamb had to cover your sins, because even from the very beginning, the law wasn't enough.
So Jesus Christ stepped in to fulfill the law. To fulfill means to carry out, to satisfy, to finish, or to complete. Church, we don't realize, but we do the same thing as the Pharisees did then. You think you're good by going to church, Jesus came to do better than that. He came so that God could be with you all the time, and now God dwells in the hearts of men as the temples of the living God, and you can be with God more than just once a week. You can have Him in your life 24/7 with you, leading you, guiding you.
You think you're good because you read the Bible. Jesus came to do better than that. He came so that the Bible might be fulfilled in his name. And now the word and the laws of God are inscribed on our hearts and our minds. And you can do more than just read it. You can live it.
You think you're good because you do good things. Jesus came to do better than that. He came to show us that all of our good things are like smelly animal poop, and that it's not until we accept Him that the greatest thing ever can happen. We don't have be identified by the stench and the smell of our sin and our past, we can be identified by the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ as it washes us white as snow and makes us pure and holy before the sight of God.
Jesus is the best of what we are. Jesus was made under the law. The maker of the law put Himself under it. He willingly experienced everything in this difficult world. And then throughout His life, He obeyed it explicitly and perfectly. And by the way, He's the only one who ever did.
Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we were, yet he did not sin." But even that wasn't enough. Even that wasn't enough. The law still requires sacrifice. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. And so not only did Jesus put Himself under the law, He also took the penalty of the law. He was our Passover lamb, our burnt offering, our scapegoat, our propitiation. He is our fulfillment. He is our fulfillment. He is the answer to the need that we have.
See, the law as far as the individual is concerned was never meant to make us righteous. The law was given to show us that we never could be righteous in our own ability or works. Romans 3:19 says, "For we know that whatever the law says it says to those under the law, so that every mouth might be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." Modern translation, the law is there to tell us to shut up when we think we're doing good. Hey, but I'm really good-- shut up. No, but you don't understand, I did this-- shut your mouth. Shut your mouth.
You're not good there. Is no one good. There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands. All practice lawlessness. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The law is there to be a mirror to show us who we really are, and the answer to our dilemma is Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:25 says, "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." When Jesus died on that cross, he took the righteous requirements of the law, and he paid the price we could never pay. When the punishment of the law was poured out upon Jesus in that moment, he fulfilled it. The law was emptied out upon Jesus, and in doing so, the law was satisfied. And now, you're no longer held under its rule. The law is empty of its punishment through Jesus.
And now as we accept Him into our lives, He takes that law, and He writes it in our hearts. Jeremiah, in effect, said, "I'm going to make a new covenant, and the difference between the new and the old will be this. I'm going to write my law in your minds and hearts, no longer on tablets or outside you, but on the fleshly tablets of your hearts."
And as God fulfills the law, as he writes that upon our hearts, now our righteousness is not found in the law, but in Jesus. And then something incredible happens. I begin to obey God's law, not because I have to, but because I want to. Remember, I said before, everyone I've ever seen stuck in sin is usually they're there because they failed to follow the first two commandments. They failed to allow God to reign and rule supreme within their lives, and because of that, everything else is out of balance.
A scribe came to Jesus and asked him in Mark 12, "What is the greatest commandment? And Jesus said, 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." See, when you love God, when you have no other gods before Him, when He rules and reigns in your life, and you love Him with all your strength, your mind, your soul, your body, the things you will naturally want to do will be the things that God wants you to do, and everything else will fall into place. All the other commandments will have their natural outworking based on the first.
If we love God, we'll keep His commandments, not out of decree, but desire. We don't seek to live godly lives, to win or find God's approval, but rather when we realize we have God's approval, we'll begin to live godly lives, because the goodness of God leads to repentance.
See, the Christian is no longer under the curse of the law. But now we should fulfill it by wanting to do those things that please God. Exodus chapter 20, the law, the commandments tell me what is right and what is wrong. They are God's absolutes, black and white. But Matthew 5, the fulfillment of the law, grace enables me to do it. Grace is that which brings me to love God, and if I love God, I long to keep His commandments. As Jesus said, "He that has my commandments and keeps them is he that loves me."
As we close, to sum it all up, God wants us to be truly righteous people, but not with the self righteousness of outward observance, but with the true righteousness purchased by Jesus at Calvary that will come in a truly changed heart. If Christ is truly in my life, then I will live according to his word. As we close, let me ask you a question.
Have you broken any of the 10 commandments? Well, if you're not raising your hand right now, you're lying, so welcome to the club. You just did. Join us. Think of the 10 commandments as a moral checkbook, by which we balance our lives. They don't show us other people's sins. Instead they reveal to us how incredibly sinful we are. They are the route for righteousness. And if you wanted to try to work your way to Heaven, this is the map. And in order to arrive at the destination, Heaven, you'd have to be completely perfect in keeping every letter of the law for your entire life and even then, it wouldn't be enough.
The longer that I'm a Christian, the more I can agree with Paul, that I am chief of sinners. In addition to being standards to live by, they're also a direction somewhere. The 10 commandments were given to show us our need for Jesus Christ. They were given to drive us into the loving arms of Jesus. You have a God. Who are what is he?
Come to the living God. Find your belief find your absolutes in him and watch what he can do for you. He will be the fulfillment that you have been looking for. 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, in exchange, life.
Lord, we thank you for your word and the truth that it reveals, the need that it reveals for us to have no other gods before you, to not allow ourselves, our pleasures, our desires, to trump our desire to please you. And Lord, I pray right now for anyone in here who has allowed other things to creep into their lives.
Maybe they've been coming to church for a long time. Maybe at one time when they were very young, they said a prayer to accept Jesus Christ, but now they've let something else slip into their lives, and that something else has become an idol, something that they have worshipped. Maybe they're here for the first time, a friend brought them, and they're hearing this message, and they're hearing exactly what they need. And they're realizing in this moment, this is the thing that they've been searching for. This is the thing that they've been needing. Lord, it's a free gift. You offer it to us, and all we have to do is say yes.
So we're praying right now with our eyes closed and our heads bowed, if you're here today, and you don't have a relationship with Jesus, God is not ruling and reigning upon your heart. Maybe He did at one time, but you've walked away. Or maybe you're here, and you realize this is what you've been looking for, the joy you've been needing, the peace you've been striving for. If you want to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life, to know that you're forgiven of your sin, to know that when you die, you're going to go to Heaven, and to be declared righteous, not by what you've done, or what you haven't done, but by the blood of Jesus Christ, then right now, I want you to raise up your hand and say, Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus in my life. I need to be forgiven.
Amen. Several hands, three to my left in the family room, right here in the front. Anyone else, just raise it up and keep it up so I can see it. Several of you in the back to my right in the center, in the far back. God bless you. And the far back to my left, hands all over the room. Lord, I thank you for all these hands, these people who are acknowledging their need for you, their need for forgiveness, their need for a new start.
Lord, I pray that you'd help them put feet to their faith that there would be fruit to their faith, that they would stand up in a world that hates you and despises you, and they would be lights for you, and you would forgive them for their sins. Let's stand. We're going to close in a song, and as we do-- I know we're over time, but I want to give those of you who raised your hand an opportunity to put feet to your faith and to say yes to Jesus.
If you raised your hand up acknowledging your need for him, I'm going to ask you right now wherever you are to get up from where you are, come down here to the front and say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. Maybe you're sitting there saying, Nate, I'm all about raising my hand in a dark room when eyes are closed, but you want me to actually take a step of faith and be seen. 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? Jesus Christ publicly died on the cross for you, and now you have a chance to publicly make a stand for him, to say yes to Jesus, and to be forgiven of your sins. And you say, well, Nate, you don't know what I'm going to have to lose. I do know you're going to have to lose.
You're going to have to lose despair and despondency. You're going to lose his lack of direction, a lack of self worth, but you're going to gain peace and joy and kindness and blessings forevermore. So wherever you are right now, you come. We're going to wait for you. God is calling you. This is your moment. This is your moment to say yes to Jesus. This is your moment to leave here knowing that when you die, you're going to go to Heaven.
This is your moment to be viewed not by what you've done, but to be viewed by what Jesus has done for you. Allow him to be the fulfillment that you've been looking for. So we're going to sing this right now. And as we do, you come.
(SINGING) For I believe in the name of Jesus. I believe in God our father. I believe in Christ His son, in the Holy Spirit. Our God is three in one. I believe in the resurrection, and we will rise again. For I believe in the name of Jesus.
In just a second, I'm going to pray with those who have come forward. I'm going to lead them in a prayer to of Christ. We're not going to sing this anymore, but I saw more hands that were raised. And that means there's a struggle in your heart right now. My question is what's holding you back. Maybe you say, Nate, you don't know what I've done. You don't know the sins that I've committed. Look, you don't know the sins that I've committed. You don't know the things that I've done.
Every one of us is in need of a savior, and Jesus doesn't judge you based on what you've done, but on what you do right now. Maybe you're sitting there, and you're like, but Nate, the person next to me in front of me, they think I'm a Christian. What are they going to think when I go forward? Guess what, they didn't die for your sins. Jesus did. They can't get you into Heaven. Only Jesus can. You can't ride their coattails into Heaven. This has to be your decision, so you get your life right now with God.
And guess what, maybe they're thinking the exact same thing that you are right now, and all they need is that nudge of faith and courage to see someone else give their lives to Jesus Christ. So anyone else, before we pray right now-- we're not going to see this again. If you need Jesus right now between you and God, if your eyes are watering up, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you, that still, small voice, don't push it away. You leave here knowing that you're forgiven. You leave here knowing that you're going to Heaven. You leave here knowing that you can have a new life, a new joy. Come on, Church, let's get loud.
Anyone else? Right now, this is your moment. Anyone else? Amen. Well, right now, for those of you who came forward, took this step of faith, I'm going to lead you in a prayer to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life. And this is a personal moment between you and the Lord, but I'm going to ask you to say these words out loud and say them to Jesus. And nothing magical is going to happen after you say this.
You're not going to like it the powers of the Force and make things levitate or talk like Yoda. But what is going to happen is Jesus Christ is going to be dwelling in your heart. You're going to be forgiven for every sin you've ever committed. The things that you're ashamed of, the things you don't want other people to know about, you're going to be forgiven for those things. And you're going to know that if you were to die today, you'd stand before Jesus forgiven.
So let's say these words together. Let's say them out loud. Say, 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 for those things. And I believe you rose from the dead. So 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. Help me to live for you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.