May 7, 2017

Why It's Essential that Christ Reigns in Your Heart

Luke 16:14-18 (NASB)

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.

These five verses contain some really disjointed statements one right after the other that seemingly make no sense. For example, Jesus talks about “heaven and earth passing away” (v. 17), but in the very next verse talks about one divorcing a spouse (v. 18). What has this verse to do with the other verse?

  1. Context is always the key to proper understanding of any biblical text.
    Any text (verse of Scripture) taken out of its context (before and after) is a pretext (false conclusion). Jesus has been speaking about love of money (greed), and the Pharisees became upset (v. 14). Our Lord then speaks to the Pharisees (v.15) and calls them self-righteous people who justify themselves.
    1. To whom is Jesus speaking? To the self-righteous Pharisees who love money.
    2. Why is He speaking? To show the difference in the Gospel of Kingdom and the Kingdom of Greed. David Livingstone said, “I’d rather be in the heart of Africa in the will of God than on the throne of England out of His will.” If being in the will of God means that you’re working in some lonely, distant, mosquito-infested mission field, you are still in the best place you could possibly be. What is His will?
  2. The Gospel of Kingdom is Christ controlling my heart.
    In Scripture, the heart is the seat of affections. It includes the mind, the emotions and the will. It is the person within. The heart is invisible to all but God. That’s one of the reasons we are not to judge. However, Jesus knew the hearts of those who followed Him, and He was unafraid to call them out.
    1. The Pharisees loved money (v. 14).
      Jesus had already said, “You can’t serve both God and money” (v. 13). Thus, the Pharisees weren’t serving God. You can be a leader, a teacher, a mentor and not serve God.
    2. The Pharisees scoffed at Jesus (v. 14).
      Which means they wanted nothing to do with His authority. He was about to show them who was really boss. He was predicting the end of their system and preaching His Kingdom.
    3. The Pharisees justified themselves in the sight of others (v. 15).
      Notice the language very carefully. They worked hard to show the invisible; to declare what was unseen. Those who shout the loudest about a virtue are the ones possessing that virtue the least.
    4. The Pharisees were doing things detestable in the site of God (v. 15).
      Those things were matters of the heart (that God saw, man did not). The seven deadly sins that “God detests” are a “proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked actions, feet that are swift to run toward mischief, a false witness that gossips, and one who sows discord among his brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  3. Without Christ in the heart, there is no possibility of entering the Kingdom.
    1. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John” (v. 16). Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom.
    2. Since that time (John) the Gospel of the Kingdom has been proclaimed” (v. 16).
    3. Everyone is forcing his way into it” (v. 16). – this language is used throughout the Gospels to show how the Pharisees wanted the Kingdom, so they violently grabbed for it (Matt. 11:12).
    4. It’s easier for heaven and earth to pass away than one stroke of the Law to fail” (v. 17). “Heaven and earth” represents Temple worship in Jerusalem. The Temple was one of the ancient wonders of the world. Could this Temple really “pass away?” Yes! When the Law was fulfilled.
    5. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery” (v. 18). In their attempt to justify themselves, the Pharisees made all kinds of allowances for their behavior of divorce.

You can view the video for this sermon HERE.