Sunday, July 06, 2008

Buy the heart, get the new life for free!

“For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly”

Mark 7:21-22

Jesus understands why we are so messed up without Him. It is a heart problem. Just look at the problems Jesus connected to the heart. Heart problems are the symptom of a need for heart holiness. God wants to deal with our actions (sins) and our attitudes (sinful nature). This is the reason Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He sent the Holy Spirit to perform the kind of heart surger that only the Divine Physician can perform.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. We normally evaluate people against a human standard. We grade intelligence, appearance, and success as better or worse than another person. In verse 16, Paul suggested that being in a relationship with Jesus Christ changes the criteria by which we evaluate people. The new criteria is Jesus Christ.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

We get it way wrong when we say that we invited Jesus Christ into our lives. This suggests that He took up residence in the area that we assigned Him. That sounds like we are some cosmic innkeeper or run a boarding house. We think we can just let him move in to the empty room to the left at the top of the stairs.

That isn’t real salvation! We don’t invite Jesus into our lives; He invites us into His life. When we understand this little difference, we are ready to experience a radical change of heart and life.

When we enter into this kind of relationship with God where He is not just a resident, but the owner, we must leave behind the things that are contrary to His nature. Verse 18 says that “now all things are of God.”

Romans 3:23 reminds us that this sin problem is universal and plagues us all. That may seem like bad news, but it sets the stage for a remarkable truth. There is also Romans 6:22 and 23. Most of us know verse 23, but we may not be as famiar with verse 22 and it's context.

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:22-23

The good news is that God can empower us to live a life that is worthy of the calling in our lives. God, through the Holy Spirit, can live that life through us, if we allow Him to inhabit every area of our life. Rather than claim Christ as a resident of our compartmentalized life, let's turn over the entirety of our lives to Him. Only when we totally surrender to God will we be prepared to experience life the way God wants it to be -- holy, full, abundant, rewarding.

And here is the good news. The heart transplant includes a complete “life overhaul” at no extra charge. Jesus Christ took our sin on Himself so that we can stand before God without fear of eternity in hell. But salvation is more than “fire insurance” as is taught by many churches; it is the only way to experience the life of holiness.

Are you living life with a new heart? Are you living a life of holiness? If so, you can testify about God's power to change a person‘s life. If not, you have yet to accept Jesus‘s invitation to live out His plan and purpose for our lives. You are not yet “in Christ.” But you can be!

This is not some goofy game show where you try to guess the answer and hope you are not wrong. If you are right you get a new washer and drier. And if you are wrong, no big deal. You just don‘t get the new washer and drier. This has eternal implications. It also will impact how you live out this life right now.

Test drive a new heart. And try out that new life that comes along with it!