Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

            My name is Adam and after doing a little bit of research, I found that my name means, “Mankind.” Pretty boring, unless you are talking about the wrestler. My wife Rebekah, on the other hand, her name means, “Bound, Trap, or Snare.” The name implies that she is so beautiful that she will be a snare or a trap for her man. Carrie’s name means “melody,” or “song.” Juliette’s name means “soft haired.” And finally, there’s Caleb. Caleb means, “faithful,” or “bold.” It comes from the Hebrew word for dog. Dogs are awesome now. They are part of or families, but back then they were scavengers. Whoever named the Biblical character Caleb was not doing him a favor. It’s almost like that song made famous by Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue.”
            What’s the name of that guy I talk about every week? That’s right Jesus. I talk about Him every week. God help me if I don’t. Jesus’ name is very important. There was an old woman who lived in Alaska. A missionary visited her and told her about Jesus when she was about 90. She was illiterate, but asked that man to teach her how to spell the name of Jesus. When he came back to visit her, she had written the name of Jesus on everything she owned—tabletops, countertops, oatmeal containers, scrap paper, everything. She couldn’t stop writing the name of Jesus.
            The Bible is pretty clear about its importance, too. In Acts 4:12 it says, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” And later in Philippians 2:9-10 “Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
            So let us start with His name. Jesus Christ. Jesus is His first name. Christ is not His last name. And His middle initial is not “H.” Jesus’ earthly father was named Joseph. Both Jesus and Joseph’s name mean “God will help.” What a perfect name. When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the fact that God, bankrupted heaven and took on flesh to save humanity from its sin. “God will help.” God did help.
            So if Jesus is His first name, what is “Christ”? Christ is His title. It’s like Pastor Brian. Brian is his name. Pastor is his title. Christ comes from the Greek work cristo, which means “anointed one.” Anointed means “dedicated to the service of God.” Generally, there would be a service or a ceremony where a priest would rub oil on a person’s forehead and dedicate them. Jesus—God will help, and Christ--He was dedicated to God’s service.
            When I was a kid, I would watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special, other school and church plays, and I would listen to preachers tell the Christmas story and they would always quote this prophetic verse from the Old Testament. Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” I used to get so confused, why didn’t they name Jesus “Immanuel”? Just because He would be called Immanuel (which He was literally God with us) doesn’t mean He had to be named that. I’ve been called many things in my life, but that doesn’t mean that any of those should be my name. I’ve been called, “awesome,” “amazing,” “super cool,” but none of those are my name. The Dallas Cowboys, as much as I disagree with it are called what? “America’s Team.” Green Bay, Wisconsin is called “Title Town” but they haven’t officially changed the name, and most likely never will. There’s a difference between being named and being called.
            We could look a few chapters later in Isaiah to see a few more names that our Lord will be called. Isaiah 9:6-7, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; (What’s the difference between a Child and a Son? Child speaks of His humanity, Son speaks of His divinity) and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.” That’s the Jesus we can get with, right? Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, taking care of the government for us? We can move deeper into Isaiah and read all about how God would redeem His people and give us all kind of warm feelings inside, but lets talk about something that doesn’t give us warm feelings. Let’s read a passage that the High Priests in Jewish synagogues have removed from their yearly calendar for readings. The reason they removed it from their reading schedule is because it obviously pointed to one person, and they didn’t want to deal with that reality. In fact, there was a young Jewish man that talked his father into letting him attend a Christian college. Part of his required classes was to take Biblical classes. He was required to read Isaiah. When he read Isaiah 53, he was sure that the Christians wrote their own version of that passage, and went and looked it up in his Jewish version of the Old Testament. It was exactly the same. He then had to come to a decision. Would he ignore what he found? Or would he embrace it? He had to embrace it. That young man is Jay Sekulow, founder of American Center for Law and Justice, one of the principle opponents to the ACLU.
Let’s look at Is 52:14, “Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage (appearance) was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” Isaiah 53
Who has believed our report?
      And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
       2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
      And as a root out of dry ground.
      He has no form or comeliness;
      And when we see Him,
      There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
       3 He is despised and rejected by men,
      A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
      And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
      He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
       4 Surely He has borne our griefs
      And carried our sorrows;
      Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
      Smitten by God, and afflicted.
       5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
      He was bruised for our iniquities;
      The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
      And by His stripes we are healed.
       6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
      We have turned, every one, to his own way;
      And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
       7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
      Yet He opened not His mouth;
      He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
      And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
      So He opened not His mouth.
       8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
      And who will declare His generation?
      For He was cut off from the land of the living;
      For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
       9 And they[a] made His grave with the wicked—
      But with the rich at His death,
      Because He had done no violence,
      Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
       10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
      He has put Him to grief.
      When You make His soul an offering for sin,
      He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
      And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
       11 He shall see the labor of His soul,[b]and be satisfied.
      By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
      For He shall bear their iniquities.
       12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
      And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
      Because He poured out His soul unto death,
      And He was numbered with the transgressors,
      And He bore the sin of many,
      And made intercession for the transgressors.

            I believe we are all here for a specific reason. I believe we were all born for a specific purpose. Nobody has ever been born by mistake. God knew you, made plans for you, and formed you. We may not know what our purpose in this life is, but God does. And as weird as it may seem, we celebrate the birth of a little baby boy, who was born to die. He was born to be humiliated, tortured, and eventually killed to take away our sins.
            We talked about the name of Jesus, and what He would be called, but one question remains, what are you going to call Him? Good teacher? Prophet? Lunatic? Some guy who died a long time ago? Savior? Lord? Jesus asked Peter 2000 years ago, “Who do you say I am?”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Marriage is Sacred and Binding

Marriage is Binding
Matthew 5:31-32

            --Have a drawing and give out a bunch of worthless certificates. i.e. “Free hot dog at Pelican Park,” “Good for one Lamborghini,” “Good for a house”

            I can give out any certificate for anything I want, but unless the person, or corporation that has to honor that certificate believes it to be valid, then the certificate is only worth as much as the paper it is printed on, which isn’t much because it has already been printed on. There was a belief in the Old Testament times that if you wanted a divorce, you could write out a certificate and give it to your wife and that would be that. The Pharisees took what started out as a way of protecting women and turned it into a belief that God Himself approved of such divorces.
            Let’s look at a passage that shows how the Pharisees believed these certificates of divorce were approved by God and how they tried to test Jesus on the legitimacy of them. Matthew 19:3-9,3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
            4"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'[a] 5and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'[b]? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
            7"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"
            8Jesus replied, "Moses permitted [Notice difference between “command” and “permitted”] you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."
            The only reason that Jesus mentioned where divorce was permitted was adultery. The greek work used for adultery is Porneia, which is where we get the word pornography. In short, it implies all forms of sexual immorality, including what we talked about the last two weeks, namely lust being the same as adultery. But there were other grounds for divorce mentioned in the Old Testament. This had to do with polygamy and how a wife should be treated. In Exodus 21:10-11 it says, “If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. If he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.” I believe if a spouse is abused, neglected, or abandoned they have a Biblical reason for divorce.
            The Pharisees idea of a certificate came from Deuteronomy 24:1, “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house….” But typical of the Pharisees, they took a small idea, meant as an allowance to be used in rare occasions, and turned it into a huge idea to be used whenever. Now, according to the Pharisees a man can divorce his wife for any reason as long as he gives her a certificate of divorce, which would allow her to remarry. There is historic evidence of Jewish men divorcing their wives for extremely ridiculous things. For example, a man could divorce his wife for burning his food, using too much salt in his food, and for saying insulting things about his mother.
            But once again Jesus saw through the trap, turned the Pharisees’ question on its head, made them look foolish, and used it as a teaching point. The Pharisees knew what Jesus’ views on divorce were and wanted him to publicly disagree with what Moses had written, which would have been a big issue to the Jewish culture. But Jesus didn’t disagree with what Moses had written, He disagreed with how the Pharisees interpreted and applied the teaching.
            Jesus believed that marriage was sacred and binding. If we look at our next passage in the Sermon on the Mount, which is Matt 5:31-32, Jesus said, “It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'[a] 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” The NKJV starts out with, “Furthermore, it has been said….” Jesus’ last two teachings started out with “It has been said….” This is the third in the series of teachings that Jesus was telling them that what they thought they knew was wrong. It is like what happened when people first heard someone argue that the world was round, or that it revolved around the sun instead of the sun revolving around the earth. It challenged the way they thought, and made them extremely uncomfortable. And the religious establishment treated Jesus the same way they would treat Copernicus and Galileo 1500 years later. Galileo was found guilty of heresy, or holding a belief contrary to the established church’s beliefs, which at the time was punishable by death. And Copernicus waited until he was dead to have his book released that contained his theory.   
            The certificates that Jewish men were giving their wives were as worthless as the certificates I gave out today. In God’s eyes, except in cases of sexual immorality, abuse, or neglect, the couple was still married, certificate or not. In fact, Jesus said that if a man gave his wife one of those worthless certificates of divorce and she re-married, he caused her and her new husband both to commit adultery.
            Marriage is serious business. It takes a lot of work and effort. I remember in college there was a married couple who were a couple of years older than me. They were both Christians. We were talking one day and he said, “Marriage is hard work.” I remember as if it were yesterday thinking, “How hard could it be?” What do you have to do to have a birthday? You have to stay alive. What do you have to do to have an anniversary? You have to work. The institution of marriage should not be taken lightly and it will take commitment, not only commitment to each other but commitment to Christ. Rick, from Rick and Bubba, talked about his one step plan for a successful marriage—you have to have Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. Triangle illustration. Having Christ in your life will help you face whatever problem that is in your life. That goes for married couples and for singles. Jesus is the answer to whatever problem you are facing. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It Starts in the Heart, pt II (Matt 5:27-30)

It Starts in the Heart, pt. II
Matthew 5:27-30

            We are continuing our journey through the Sermon on the Mount, where we have the nerve to ask, “Can anyone live out the Sermon on the Mount in today’s world?” The Sermon on the Mount is:
            -Jesus’ longest, sustained teaching
            -Three chapters long
            -109 verses
            -2400+ words give or take.
We are finished looking at the first 26 verses and are now moving into, what I personally feel is the hardest teaching in the Bible.
            There may be a few people out there who may be like me. I was an athlete through college and into my post-graduate studies. I have gone through many hard workouts from 7th grade when I started to run through Seminary where I trained with other college programs. I never seemed to mind the hard workouts. Sometimes, I even looked forward to them because I knew they were going to do two things: 1) Challenge me—if the coach wasn’t challenging me with the workouts then it meant he didn’t believe in me; 2) Make me a stronger runner—which is why I trained so hard in the first place. I remember in HS doing 32 repeat 400’s at race pace for a 5K, on the track, which I always found boring. That’s eight miles for anyone doing the math. I had an epiphany that day. An epiphany is a sudden insight into something. I thought, “If I die and go to hell, I don’t want to run repeat 400’s for all of eternity. Maybe I should get right with God.” I remember running speed workouts in the dead of summer, all by myself. I remember working outside in sub-freezing temperatures on Christmas break until it was too cold to work and then went home and ran for 10-15 miles. I wanted to be the best and working hard was something that I looked forward to.
            But when I hear a preacher say, “This is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do,” I don’t look forward to it. It’s one thing to endure a workout. It’s something completely different to endure a trial. A workout has a beginning and an end. The trials that God allows you to go through have a beginning, but you may not know when it started. And it has an end, but you may not see it in this lifetime. But the worse part about it is the fact that you can’t get away from yourself. If you mess up a play, or can’t finish a workout, you may feel bad about it for a few minutes but eventually shake it off and move on. But if God has you going through a spiritual workout and you mess up, good luck sleeping that night. There have been times when I messed up a spiritual challenge and God took me to the woodshed. Is there anyone else here, that messed something up in their spiritual walk, maybe you were the only person that knew about it, and God took you to the cleaners? If He has, then that is a good thing. Proverbs 3:11-12 says,
My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline
       and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
       as a father [a] the son he delights in.
We are going to talk about something today that will make a lot of you feel like failures. Maybe God has rebuked you. Let not your heart be troubled! God rebukes the ones He loves.          
Last week we studied what I believe to be one of the hardest teachings in the Bible, which was Jesus’ teaching that it was not enough not to murder someone, because even if you hated a person you were in danger of facing the same punishment as if you did murder them. This passage is very similar. Matthew 5:27-30, “You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
            This passage, just like last week’s, is designed to show you as a failure. No one can perfectly fulfill Jesus’ commandment. Everyone who listened to Jesus teach this passage that day who were feeling pretty good about themselves and their righteousness, suddenly felt pretty bad about themselves. Once again Jesus was saying, “It’s not enough to just not commit adultery. You have to take it to the next level. If you even look at someone with impure thoughts, you’ve already committed adultery with her in your heart. On a side note, there was a scientific study that showed the chemicals released in the brain after viewing pornography were the same chemicals released after having sex. So Jesus was scientifically and spiritually correct when He said, “You’ve already committed adultery in your heart.” According to your brain, you had sex with that person. The Greek word for “heart” is kardia, which means not only the organ, but it also stood for the center of man’s entire mental and moral activities.
            How many of you have ever watched Wipeout? How many of you watch it because you like watching highly successful members of society race through the obstacle course with cat-like reflexes and amazing precision? How many of you watch it because you like to watch “good’uns” face planting into immovable objects? That’s what I watch it for, that and the witty and sarcastic commentary. I’m old school. I watched that show on Spike TV when it was the Japanese game show with the English over-dubbing. I like watching the people fail. The worse they fail, the harder I laugh. I have to muffle my laughter or Rebekah with think I’m a mean person. And I can’t be alone in this because they show 50 minutes of people face planting and 1 minute of people succeeding.
I like watching them fail because I don’t know them. If it was a loved one or someone I knew, I would be cheering for them and praying that they would make it through the obstacle course unharmed and with the fastest time. That’s the same way God is with us. He loves us and believe it or not, wants to see us win, not face plant into the Big Balls. He loves us, He gives us direction and guidance. It is like if the contestants each had a coach that was willing to train them on how to get through the obstacle course. That’s what He wants to do for us.
            Proverbs 5:21 describes God’s desire to be our coach in this obstacle course we call life. It says, “For a man’s way is in full view of the LORD, and He examines all his paths.” God can see our entire journey and knows which steps we should take and which steps we should avoid. If we think about Wipeout, it is like He has all of our jumps timed out for us. All we have to do is listen to Him. But that’s the problem. Two verses later in 5:23 it reads, “He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” We are too prideful to listen to Him, and we suffer for it.
            In this passage, Proverbs 5, Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the face of the earth, was trying to pass his wisdom down to his sons about the dangers of adultery. Let’s look at what he advises.
 1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
       listen well to my words of insight,
 2 that you may maintain discretion
       and your lips may preserve knowledge.
 3 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
       and her speech is smoother than oil;
 4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
       sharp as a double-edged sword.
 5 Her feet go down to death;
       her steps lead straight to the grave. [a]
 6 She gives no thought to the way of life;
       her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.
 7 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
       do not turn aside from what I say.
 8 Keep to a path far from her,
       do not go near the door of her house,
 9 lest you give your best strength to others
       and your years to one who is cruel,
 10 lest strangers feast on your wealth
       and your toil enrich another man's house.
 11 At the end of your life you will groan,
       when your flesh and body are spent.
 12 You will say, "How I hated discipline!
       How my heart spurned correction!
 13 I would not obey my teachers
       or listen to my instructors.
 14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin
       in the midst of the whole assembly."
 15 Drink water from your own cistern,
       running water from your own well.
 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
       your streams of water in the public squares?
 17 Let them be yours alone,
       never to be shared with strangers.
 18 May your fountain be blessed,
       and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
       may her breasts satisfy you always,
       may you ever be captivated by her love.
 20 Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?
       Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?
 21 For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD,
       and he examines all his paths.
 22 The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him;
       the cords of his sin hold him fast.
 23 He will die for lack of discipline,
       led astray by his own great folly.
            Solomon’s teaching is pretty wise and pretty powerful even today. Have you ever seen a road sign that warned against a curvy road ahead? This is what Solomon is doing for his sons, and is what God is doing for us, too. It’s like He’s saying, “There is some trouble up ahead. You need to slow down to prepare for it.” I’m telling you there is some trouble up ahead and you need to slow down to prepare for it.
            Jesus said if we look at a woman with lust, we have already committed adultery in our hearts. So is the problem with looking, or with lusting? The problem is with lusting, but looking leads to lusting. According to scientific studies, a person using pornography can get addicted to those same chemicals that we spoke about earlier, and that addiction is even harder to break than the addiction to heroin. If all of you had access to heroin on a minute by minute basis throughout your day, I would be shouting warnings against the dangers of heroin all day every day to you. But you do have access to pornography anywhere and everywhere. People may feel pornography is a victimless pursuit but it is not. It destroys lives. It destroys the lives of people producing it, using it, as well as the innocent family members of the person engaged in it. And it all begins with lust. Jesus said it would have been better if we would have just gouged our eye out. After the service today, we will have an eye gouging ceremony for anyone who wants to participate.
            What separates pornography from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco addiction is that when you see an image, that image, good, positive, or neutral, is in your brain forever. That isn’t necessarily the case with the other three. So when you’re sitting in math class and your brain recalls an image you’ve seen at some point in your life, you now have to deal with it. Last week I told you that you can’t help if a bird lands on your head but you don’t have to let it build a nest in your hair. The same holds true for these thoughts, too. Think about something else. It’s as easy and as hard as that.
Secondly, you can be watching TV, minding your own business and a seductive commercial comes on. You didn’t ask for it. You weren’t seeking it. But there it is and you have to deal with it. Imagine a recovering alcoholic watching a ball game, and then a person jumps out of the television, and slams a beer down their throat. They weren’t asking for it. They weren’t seeking it. So what do you do when that tempting vision comes on the TV, or you see an ad in a magazine, or a billboard? You look away, and as for me and my family we won’t spend our money on their businesses until they get a marketing representative with some moral fiber.
             There are several things that make pornography wrong. 1) It glamorizes sin. 2) It causes the person using it to lust, (which is sin) and then moves them further and further down a path of destruction as they have to seek out different ways to maintain that chemical high. 3). Pornography reduces human beings to sexual items to be bought, sold, used and discarded.
 Johnny Hunt, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said about pornography, “If you look at something that isn’t real, as if it was real, it makes what is real appear not real.” In other words, let’s say you never seen what a horse looks like and so with my limited drawing abilities I draw a picture of a horse and show you. You may look at my picture all day, everyday, in fact the longer you look at my picture the more convinced you are that my horse must be an exact copy of what a real horse looks like. The problem is when you get around to actually seeing what a real horse looks like you’ll have trouble believing it to be real because all you have to compare it with is my picture. What do you think a lifetime of looking at pornography will do to you when you do eventually get married? Will it affect your relationship with your spouse? Yes, because you will be comparing what is real to what isn’t real. Now imagine inserting pornography into a young person’s mind that doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not real. The earlier a young person is exposed to pornography the more normal they are going to think it is. They are going to think it’s as normal as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.
So what if you have been looking at what is not real as if it was real, what do you do now? The first thing you have to do is stop! You are dealing with a sin issue and a chemical addiction, so it will take more than will power and behavior modification. You are going to need God’s help to get you through this. Anyone who has decided to quit and failed. Decided to quit again and failed will tell you it takes more than will power.
Here are some practical suggestions to help you:
1) First and foremost, you need to pray to God, confess your sins (Confess means to agree with God. Can you agree with God on how He feels about pornography?) and ask for His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9
2)  You need to find someone that you can trust that will hold you accountable in your attempt to walk free from your addiction. This includes your parents. You were man or woman enough to get into pornography. Will you be man or woman enough to come clean?
3)  Serious behavior modification. Don’t get on the internet when there is no one else around. Don’t go to certain websites or watch television programs that might trigger something in you. Change your friends. Change the music you listen to.  Everything that you put into your brain is there forever. You can’t get rid of it, but you can dilute it. Water it down so it won’t be as poisonous.
4) Detox your brain. You have to change your thoughts or they’ll destroy your attempts.
            Whether you personally struggle with pornography or not, you will be affected by it at some point in your life. It is a sin problem and there is only one cure for a sin problem, and that is Jesus Christ….


It Starts in the Heart, pt I (Matt 5:21-26)

It Starts in the Heart
Matthew 5:21-26

            There was one time when I was a little kid that I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Apparently, I had been yelled at repeatedly by my parents to put everything away when I was done. I must have thought that I was being treated unfairly because after this particular sandwich, I walked into the living room and with the hint of being a smartaleck, I began to describe to my mother in painstaking details about how I made my sandwich. I got out the plate. I got out the bread. I took two pieces of bread out. I put the bread away. I got out the peanut butter (because you always put peanut butter on first). I put the peanut butter on the bread. I put the peanut butter away. I put the knife in the sink. I got out the jelly. I put the jelly on the bread. I put the spoon away. When I was finished describing this, my mother said, “Good.” She completely missed my point. So I said it again, stressing this time about how I put everything away individually when I was finished with it. Then she said, “That’s good.” I looked at her dumbfounded and angrily walked back into the kitchen. You know I must have been really upset because that story was from like 25 years ago.
            I thought I was being way over the top in my actions, but to my parents I was just doing what I was supposed to do. You hear people say every once in a while, especially adult men, “I’m a good guy. I pay my bills. I take care of my kids. I’ve never been arrested.” I’m never really sure what to say to that. You are supposed to pay your bills, and take care of your kids. And almost everybody I know has never been arrested. So if you’re looking for extra credit points with me, you’re not getting any. Extra credit comes in when you go above and beyond what you are supposed to do.
            Now don’t get me wrong—the world functions when people do what they’re supposed to do. But sometimes we need to take things to the next level. What if that guy that pays his bills, takes care of his kids, and has never been arrested, begins to save up his money and is able to bless other people? What if he not only provides for the basic needs of his kids but invests his life in them? What if instead of just avoiding doing illegal things he helped to make his community better? What if he took his efforts to the next level?
            Sometimes going to the next level can be very humbling. Just watch how good “star” college athletes do in the NFL. Look at some of the Heisman Trophy winners and how good they’re doing in the NFL. Some of them barely make the team, or ride the bench their entire career. Tim Tebow, arguably one of the greatest collegiate football players and Heisman Trophy winner just got dropped to third string and probably won’t play all year unless something bad happens. Colt McCoy, Heisman candidate for the last couple of years, holds the record for most yards thrown, (or something like that) almost got cut by the Browns this year.
            Hollywood is filled with actors and actresses who are working at restaurants and bars until they get their big break. They left home with dreams of making it big, but for one reason or another were not able to get to the next level. Nashville is the same with country musicians. Sometimes taking it to the next level is very difficult.
            I like to play guitar and I know I could be much better but in order for me to get to that next level, I know I have to work at it really hard. What is it for you? What are you doing, or what can you do that you could take to the next level? Maybe it is school work. Maybe it is soccer. Maybe it is something completely different. In the passage we’re going to look at tonight, Jesus is asking us to take our relationships with other people and the way we think to the next level.
            We are continuing our trek through the Sermon on the Mount, asking the question, “Can anyone live out the Sermon on the Mount in today’s world?” We, of course can’t answer that question if we don’t know what’s in the Sermon on the Mount.
            Today’s passage is from Matt. 5:21-26, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
            In that one thirty second passage from His sermon, Jesus turned everyone who thought they were doing pretty good to feeling pretty lousy about themselves. Jesus was basically saying to them that it is not enough to simply not murder anybody. Why? Because 99.9% of us will never murder anyone or even meet someone who has murdered someone. Again don’t get me wrong, not murdering people is good, but is it enough? Imagine coming to church on Sunday, “Hey Pastor Brian. How’s the day going?” “Well I haven’t murdered anyone.” Is that a standard you want your pastor to strive for? I want my pastor to have a higher standard than that. “Adam, as youth pastor at Ferris Hill, what are your goals?” “Well, I’d like to not murder anyone.” Jesus wants His followers, the ones that will be called by His name, and the ones that will carry on His reputation to have a higher standard.
            Remember there were two ruling classes in Israel during Jesus’ time. These two classes both sought control over their government in much the same way as the Democrats and Republicans do today. They were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were passionate about the keeping the law. So much so, they made up other laws to make sure the Ten Commandments weren’t broken. They eventually created 1,000’s of other rules and regulations which they followed wholeheartedly, and persecuted those who didn’t have the same zeal as they did.
One of the rules they had, which was punishable by a fine and imprisonment was saying, “Raca” to someone else. Raca means “empty head” in English. Jesus was telling them, “Hey, if you call someone an empty head, you might get thrown in jail, but I’m telling you if you so much as even call someone a fool you are in danger of getting thrown in hell.” Jesus equated “hate” with “murder.” If you hate someone, it is like you are murdering someone.
Have you ever had a teacher, or even a parent, threaten to punish you for something and you have to stop and think, “Are they serious? Or are they just bluffing?” How many of you think Jesus was joking or bluffing in this passage? OK, just in case there was someone to chicken to raise their hand, Jesus said later in Matt. 12:36, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”
That was Jesus’ first point of the passage: Murder begins in the heart. His second point dealt with conflict resolution. Paul wrote in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Sometimes it is just not in your control to live in peace. Sometimes people are just jerks and don’t want to live in peace. That’s why there’s “likes—to—fight—guy.” But Jesus is saying here, “Do your part to resolve the conflict. Stop whatever you are doing and try to make things right.”
An old man once angrily returned a set of car tires to Home Depot that was not up to his standards. He did not have a receipt but the manager refunded the man his money. What makes this story interesting is that Home Depot never has and probably never will sell care tires. The man returned the tires to the wrong store, but desiring good customer service, the manager resolved the conflict, as much as it depended on him.
This is not to say that we should let people walk all over us, or even that we can never be angry. Remember Jesus became angry, thrashed at people with a whip, and threw tables at them. This is commonly referred to as righteous indignation. Eph. 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.” But what if we all resolved our conflicts rather than letting them fester and boil inside of us? What if we learned to love each other for being a child of God, someone created in His image rather than hating them? What would Milton High School look like? Kings Middle? Hobbs Middle? Would there be less strife?
This is one of the hardest teachings Jesus had. It’s hard not to be angry at times with even your closest friends let alone your worst enemy. So how can we play this out in our lives? Because I don’t think Jesus would have asked us to do something that was impossible.
-Get to know the person. Try to see things from their perspective, or maybe understand how they were raised differently than you.
-Find nice things to say about them rather than a few bad things.
-Pray for them. It’s hard to hate someone you’re praying for.
-In conflict resolution figure out what’s important and what’s not.
-Humble yourself. Perhaps you’re wrong.
-Figure out what will lead to the greater good.    


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Four Spiritual Laws

The Four Spiritual Laws

            A few years back there was a man named Vince Lombardi who took over the role as head coach of a failing football team called the Green Bay Packers. This team was in the midst of suffering through a ten year slump and had went 1-10-1 the year before he took over. In Lombardi’s first year, the Packers won the championship with essentially the same players. They had only replaced two insignificant players. He is famous for many things but with that team he is known for re-teaching them the basics of the game, even going so far as saying his now famous quote, “This…is a football.”
            We’re taking a short recess from the Sermon on the Mount this week. Don’t worry, we’ll pick right back up next week, but today we’re going back to the basics. We’re going to be discussing laws. Just like nature has laws that cannot be broken or adapted, God has laws that cannot be broken or adapted. Take the law of gravity. You can say, “I don’t believe in gravity. Gravity is just a crutch for the weak. Gravity is just an old outdated model of thinking designed to keep me from having fun,” but when you step off the roof of a ten story building…. What’s going to happen? Are you going to prove the law of gravity right or wrong? Right, 100% of the time. In fact in the history of mankind, there has never been a case of a person stepping off of a ledge or a cliff and went up instead of down. Just like the law of gravity cannot be broken or manipulated to fit our circumstances, God has spiritual laws that cannot be broken or manipulated to fit our circumstances or desires. There are four of these laws.
Law #1: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.
            John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”      
There are billions of people in the world who have never heard that verse before. We’ve heard it so much we take it for granted, and don’t even really listen to it or think about what it means. Let me give you an illustration.
A switchman sat in a small shack on one side of the river where he operated the controls to turn the bridge and lock it into place when a train crossed. One evening as the switchman was waiting for the light of the day to come, he looked off into the distance thru the dim twilight and caught sight of the trainlights. He stepped to the controls and waited until the train was within a prescribed distance within the bridge. He turned the bridge into position, but, to his horror, found the locking control did not work. If the bridge was not secure in position, it would wobble back and forth at the ends when the train came on to it, causing the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. This was a passenger train with many people aboard.  
He left the bridge turned across the river, and hurried across bridge to the other side of the river where there was a lever switch that could hold to operate the lock manually. He would have to hold the switch back firmly as the train crossed. 
            He could hear the rumble of the train now. He took hold of the lever and kept applying the pressure to keep the mechanism locked. Many lives depended on this man's strength.  
Then, coming across the bridge from the direction of his control room, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. "Daddy, where are you?"  
His four-year-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him. His first impulse was to cry out to the child, "Run! Run!" But the train was close; the tiny legs would never make it across the bridge in time.  
He almost left his lever to run and snatch up his son and carry him but he realized that he would not be able to get back to the lever in time. Either the people on the train or his little son must die.  
He took a moment to make his decision. The train sped safely about, on its way, and no one aboard was even aware of the tiny broken body, thrown mercilessly into the river by the onrushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of the sobbing man, still clinging tightly to the locking lever long after the train had passed. They did not see him walk home more slowly than he had ever walked: to tell his wife how the child had brutally died.
Sadly, that train full of people can easily be us. The majority of the people in the world will be born, live a full life, and die never giving a thought to Christ’s death if they ever even know about it.
John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Christ came so that we could experience life to its fullest and that we may find deep meaning in it. Do you believe that the majority of people are living an abundant life, or just getting by? Are they living a meaningful life, or just passing time? Why do so many people waste their time drinking, smoking, doing drugs, playing video games, chasing one sexual encounter after another if they are not just passing time?
They are wasting away their in the doldrums of life because of…
Spiritual Law #2: Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life. 
            Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” How many did it say? Most? Some? All? Just Michigan fans? No it says “all.” What does “all” mean? All means all. That’s me and you and Mother Theresa, and Ghandi, and the Quaker Oats man.
            Man was placed in the Garden of Eden, a literal place of paradise on earth, where they walked and communed daily and personally with the God of all creation. They were given one rule—don’t eat from that tree. But they willfully disobeyed the directives of God. And we’ve been going down hill ever since. Because of their sin, God could not stand to be in their presence any longer and banished them from the garden. A holy God cannot be in the presence of sinful man. Because of man’s rebellious self will, he chose to do his own thing, and fellowship with God was broken. This rebellious nature can take on two forms: 1) The active antithetical attitude where the person opposes God at every opportunity. We see this with atheists, the ACLU, and other anti-religion organizations; 2) The passive attitude where religion and God play almost no part in their lives. They are the CEO Christians--Christmas and Easter only. God plays no part in their lives and therefore, He cannot direct them. A moving car is a lot easier to steer than a parked car, even if it is headed in the wrong direction.
            Which of these two rebellious natures do you think is causing the most troubles for Christianity in America? People care about their cars, favorite teams, and their fantasy league football leagues, anything and everything that won’t be worth a hill of beans in a year, but could not care less about God or His son.
The Bible says in Romans 6:23 that the result of this rebellious nature is death. “The wages of sin is death.” There is a great separation between man and God that cannot be crossed. Man has been desperately trying to find a way to get to God since we were kicked out of the garden, and we do this through religion. Religion is man’s attempt to connect with God. Some of the ways people try to connect with God is through fasting, tithing, volunteering at the church, singing in the choir, saying a particular prayer over and over again. All of these fail because our efforts and good works are useless. The Bible says in Isaiah 64:6,
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
       and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
       we all shrivel up like a leaf,
       and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
The word used for “filthy rags” means a dirty, used menstruation rag—a used Tampon or Maxi-Pad. This is what God thinks of our efforts to get to Him.
            The gulf is too wide; we cannot get to Him by our own efforts. It is like standing on the California shore and swimming to Hawai’i. It is impossible by our own human efforts, but Spiritual Law #3 explains the only way to bridge this gulf and restore that relationship we once had with God.
Spiritual Law #3: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
            Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Imagine that. The same God that can’t tolerate any sin in His presence was willing to take on our sin problem head on, while we were still sinners—while we still had nothing to offer Him.
            And also in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, “3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….”
            That’s what Christianity is all about. While we were still sinners, Christ took the punishment for our sins, was tortured then executed, buried, but praise God three days later He rose from the dead defeating death once and for all. If Christ had not taken our place, if Christ had not died, and if Christ had not rose from the dead, then we would all still be slaves to our sin, and doomed for an eternity in hell. But He did all of those things, so you wouldn’t have to face that fate anymore.
            He is the only way to God. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but through me.” What does no one mean? Some? Most? All? Only the really good ones? What about Ghandi? Was he good enough to get to heaven outside of Jesus? This is where many people separate themselves from Christianity. They call Jesus a good teacher and they call Him a wise man, but they reject that He is the only way to go to heaven. But here Jesus is very clearly saying that HE IS the only way to go to heaven. So either He’s lying and that wouldn’t make Him a good teacher or a wise man. Or He’s a lunatic because He certainly believed it enough to die for it, and that definitely would not make Him a good teacher or wise man. Or lastly, He is the Lord and He is exactly who He said He was. Liar, lunatic, or Lord? Those are our only three choices.
            But the last Spiritual Law is the kicker….
Spiritual Law #4: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God’s love and plan for our lives.
            If I gave one of you the best Christmas present ever given. I bought it, I wrapped it, and I left it under the tree with your name on it, but if you never opened it and received it, the gift is worthless. If you look at it everyday, and consider receiving it but never actually do what good has it done you? Christ has given you an awesome gift, better than any gift anybody could ever give you, but if you only consider it but never receive it, it is worthless.
            John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” This is the new birth people speak of. Or being born again. You become a new creature in Christ, except this time you no longer have that sin nature weighing you down, but you have the righteousness Christ died to give you. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jesus Fulfills the Law

Jesus Fulfills the Law

We are now three weeks into our look at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. For those of you who are new this week, we have been discussing a fictitious wager between Satan and God that no man can live out the Sermon on the Mount in today’s world. This idea is from the movie The Wager with Randy Travis. But in order for us to decide for ourselves if we can live out the Sermon on the Mount, we need to know what Jesus preached on.
            Here are a few facts about the Sermon on the Mount before we get too deep into the discussion. First the “mount” was just a good sized hill. It was not a mountain. There was a large gathering of people around Jesus and it would have been wise of Him to teach from the hill: logistically, acoustically, and symbolically. Logistically, it would prevent the people from crushing Him. Acoustically, He was able to preach more effectively to a larger crowd. It is not known from which hill Jesus preached from, but scholars agree that it was probably near the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee near the town of Capernaum. If Jesus faced north, His voice could be heard over 200 yards away as if He was standing right next to you. And symbolically, Jesus’ going up the “mount” would have been seen as a reference to Moses going up Mount Sinai. The sermon, which was a collection of what Matthew and Luke recorded and should not be thought of as a word for word transcription, covers three chapters, 109 verses, and used over 2,400 words.
            Two weeks ago we discussed the “Beatitudes” which is a ten dollar word that means extremely blessed. These were the teachings Jesus gave us to show us how we can be extremely blessed. Last week we discussed what it meant to be the salt and the light of the world, and what that would look like in our schools. Today we are going to discuss Jesus being the fulfillment of the law.
            Matt 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
            There are two key words in this passage: abolish and fulfill. Jesus sets these two words up in opposition of each other. Abolish comes from the Greek word Kataluo which means “to loosen down” and was used to describe both the destruction of the Temple, and the decaying of a human body at death. But it can also mean to overthrow, as in to render vain, deprive of success. When Jesus set these two words up in opposition with each other, He also picked sides. He very clearly stated that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. In other words, Jesus said, “I didn’t come to destroy the law or make it useless. I came to make sure it succeeded.” (www.gotquestions.org/abolish-fulfill-law.html)
            The irony is that Jesus was constantly hounded by the religious leaders of the day for breaking the law. Jesus was accused of: healing on the Sabbath, picking grain on the Sabbath, not washing His hands before He ate, eating with ceremonially unclean people/ sinners, touching a man with leprosy, and forgiving sins/ blasphemy.
            Jesus said, “I did not come as an enemy of the law. I came as a friend of the law.” When we say “law” what do we mean? All laws? Speed limits? No Trespassing? The law refers to the first five books of the Bible, aka The Torah, aka The Pentateuch, aka, The Books of Moses. But more specifically it refers to the Ten Commandments. But the Jews, desperately not wanting to break the Ten Commandments set up other laws to be a barrier around them to protect themselves. For example: Let’s say your mom tells you not to be around Old Man Johnson. That’s the law. So to make sure you don’t break that law you won’t even go on his block. That would be one of the protective barriers to protect you from breaking the law. Over time, the Jews literally had thousands of these protective barrier rules to protect them. And as time progressed, there emerged groups of people called the Pharisees and the Scribes who built their entire lives around these laws--not breaking them, making new ones, teaching them to others, and of course looking down on those who didn’t keep them.
Law Illustration
            It all started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God’s only law, “Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Before that God walked with Adam in the garden in the cool of the evening. After they sinned, they were separated from God. A perfect and holy God cannot be in the presence of sin. As our sin nature was passed down from generation to generation, God designed a plan that would redeem man to Himself. Contrary to popular belief, the Ten Commandments was never set up as a way for a person to go to heaven. If you ask random people on the streets how a person gets to heaven, most would answer that you have to be good enough. Then if you ask the follow up question, “How do you know what’s good enough?” They will answer something about keeping the Ten Commandments.
            Even if we were capable of keeping the Ten Commandments perfectly from this point on, all of our sins up to this point would keep us out of heaven. And even if we were able to remain sin free up to this point and all the way to our death, the sin nature we inherited from our parents would keep us out of heaven. The only thing the Ten Commandments do for us is to show us just how bad off we are, and how much we need a savior.
Out of all of the evangelism tools there are in the world there is only one that the Bible says is perfect in converting lost souls. Wouldn’t you like to know what it is? It is the law. Psalm 19:7 “The law is perfect, converting the soul.”      
Let’s take a closer look at the Ten Commandments to see why that is.
1. You shall have no other god before me.
            This one may seem like an easy one because in our culture we don’t worship idols, and we don’t have thousands of gods like the Hindus. But what we do have is sports teams and sports stars, and celebrities. We have TV, Ipods, Ipads, and DVR’s. We have Facebook, Myspace and Youtube. How many of you initiated a conversation about a sports team or a game in the past week? How many of you initiated a conversation about Jesus Christ this past week? How many of you spent at least 3 hours watching television, a sporting event, or messing around on Facebook, Myspace, or Youtube? How many of you have read one whole chapter in the Bible this past week?
            We may not feel like we are worshiping these things but we are definitely putting them before God. If you are not spending time alone with God, you are spending it with whatever has become more important to you. What if you made a rule—one for one. One hour of TV= one hour of Bible study/ prayer. Would your life be different?
2. You shall not make any graven images of God
            God chose to be image-less except for His time here on earth. Any image of Him would be a misrepresentation of Him and, therefore, a sin. We might think we are in the clear again here, but have you ever said, or heard anyone say anything like, “A loving God wouldn’t send so and so to hell…” or “The God I serve won’t allow innocent people to….” Isn’t this making God into something He’s not? Or isn’t it trying to make God into a God we can feel more comfortable with? The truth is bad things happen to good and innocent people all the time. God is still the same God as He always has been and always will be whether we feel comfortable with Him or not.
3. You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain
            The name of the Lord is a special thing, so special rabbinical Jews will not even spell it. They write G*D in English. They won’t pronounce the name. Both of these rules are some barrier rules that we spoke of earlier. They were so concerned of misusing His name that they eliminated it completely. But in our culture, we seemingly have no problem saying GD this, GD that, or replacing a four letter word with the name of our precious savior and the one that gave us life. Or let’s say you’ve never uttered His name as a cuss word in your life. Have you ever prayed a prayer that sounds like, “O Jesus, be with Bill, Jesus, because, Jesus, he really needs you, Jesus. And Father, heavenly Father, be with my mom, Father, O loving Father….” If anyone had a conversation like that to me, “Hey Adam, can you, Adam, meet me at 7:00, Adam. O Adam, sweet Adam, if you could Adam, bring your truck, Adam, I need, Adam, to move a couch, Adam,” I would punch them in the face.
            The Lord’s name is precious and we shouldn’t treat it like it was a cuss word, or punctuation marks in our prayers.
            We’ve made it through 3. How are you doing? Don’t worry. It gets worse.
4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
            I’m not a big Saturday vs. Sunday guy. If you want to worship on Saturday because the Jews did, that’s fine. If you want to worship on Sunday because that’s the day Jesus rose from the dead, that’s fine, too. But you ought to keep that day sacred. Have you ever done any work on the day set apart for worship? There’s a Little House on the Prairie episode where Charles is overly tired, sleeps in and misses church. He then wakes up and plows the field. His wife Caroline comes home and finds him in the field and tears him up for it.
5. Honor your mom and dad.
            Do you do everything your parents expect of you without them having to ask you…over and over and over again? Do you honor them with the clothes you wear? With the friends you hang out with? With the grades you make at school? With the way you treat other people?
6. Don’t murder.
            This one is easy until we get to next week’s lesson. Jesus said if you hate another person you already committed murder in your heart. And then there’s abortion. Remember what Horton said, “A person is a person no matter how small.”
7. Don’t commit adultery.
            Is pre-marital sex adultery? What if you are absolutely sure you are going to get married? What if you are marrying the person the next day? Sex with anyone you are not married to is adultery. You might say, “I’m cool with this one. I’m a virgin.” Again Jesus upped the ante on this one when He said, “If you have looked at a woman with lust, you have already committed adultery in your heart.” Have you ever looked at a man or woman with less than pure motives?
8. Don’t Steal
            Everybody at some point has taken something that doesn’t belong to them. Or when you are at work and you get paid by the hour, but don’t stay 100% productive at all times. That is stealing from your employer who is paying you to work.
9. Don’t Lie
            Everybody has told a lie at some point in their life. If you haven’t you’re lying.
10. Don’t covet your neighbor’s stuff
            Have you ever wanted something your neighbor has and it caused you to be angry or resentful towards them? Or did it cause you to think less of the things you already have? You can want the things your neighbor has without it being a sin. For example a kid at school gets a new CD and you get a chance to listen to it and you liked it. You decide you’d like to have it to. So the next time you’re at the store you buy a copy of it. Here’s an example of where it could turn into sin. A girl at school gets a new pair of jeans. You just bought a new pair last week, but these are better than yours. You start mumbling things under your breath about that person’s character. You beg your mom for an advance on your allowance. She doesn’t give it to you. So you steal money to go buy the new pair of jeans.
            If we were in a court of law and God was here as the judge, based on the Ten Commandments, would you be found innocent or guilty? So would you go to heaven or would we go to hell? Every one of us has broken every one of the commandments. Just being sorry about it and swearing we will never do it again won’t get us off the hook. A rapist and murderer who swears he won’t do it again would still go to jail. We wouldn’t let him go free would we? No there must be punishment.
            That’s where Jesus comes in. In order for man to be made right with God, there needed to be a perfect sacrifice. And bulls and lambs weren’t cutting it. It had to be something that had experienced all of the temptation we have experienced and still overcame and remained sin free. Jesus was the fulfillment of the law because He satisfied the law’s requirements. And when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He became that perfect sacrifice that satisfied the wrath of God.