We have a need to be transformed according to Steph Nickel as she explains the meaning of Jesus’ words from Matthew 15. When a sinner becomes a Christian a process of transformation begins.
The Words We Speak
Matthew 15:10-11, 18-20 (ESV) says, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person . . . what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.”
In the past, we talked about the importance of the words we speak. We learned from Matthew 12 that our words reveal what’s in our heart, whether it’s good or evil.
Today we learn more about the evil that resides within many of us . . . Make that all of us. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
It is natural to become defensive when someone refers to us as a sinner. We may scoff. We may become angry. We may laugh it off.
Jesus helps us understand God’s definition of sin in Matthew 5. Verse 22 says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
We may never have committed murder, but have we been angry with another person? Of course. Have we insulted someone? Sure.
We may never have been unfaithful to our spouse. But the Lord expands on this as well. In Matthew 5:28, He says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (The same holds true for women as well.) Sexual immorality, from God’s perspective, includes more than just our actions.
It stands to reason that the evil desires that are the basis for our words and our actions are sinful in and of themselves. If we’re honest, we all realize we have fallen short of the Lord’s standard in at least one of these area—likely in most if not all of them.
If the story ended there, how heartbreaking it would be. But it doesn’t.
God Himself does what we can’t. Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we need only accept the forgiveness He offers. We admit we are sinners in need of a saviour and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is that Saviour.
Not only does God forgive us, He gives us the desire and the wherewithal to overcome the evil desires within our heart.
Does He wash away all our evil desires in an instant? No, it’s a process.
Why? Previously, I discussed our tendency to depend on ourselves if we never experience something we can’t handle on our own. The same holds true for sinful tendencies. If God wiped them all away, we would be inclined to forget we hadn’t done it on our own.
Even within Christendom, we seem to highly value independence. But are any of us truly independent? Let’s think about that for a minute.
There are numerous passages in Scripture that teach us that each believer is given different gifts and abilities for the good of others.
No, we can’t sit back and expect others to do what we’re supposed to do. But neither can we push ahead and try to do it all on our own. As the saying goes, “We’re in this together.”
And when it comes to daily overcoming sinfulness, we must look to the Lord. We have the responsibility to avoid situations that tempt us to sin. However, there’s so much more to it than what TV shows we watch or what websites we visit, where we spend our free time or who we spend that time with.
Be Proactive – Be Transformed
What we don’t do isn’t enough. We must be proactive. When we read God’s Word daily . . . When we pray . . . When we listen to God-honouring music . . . When we fellowship with fellow believers . . . The Lord uses all these things in the transformation process.
I love Romans 12:1-2.(ESV) It says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The spiritual disciplines I mentioned are all part of renewing our mind. And God’s invitation to do so is evidence of His provision and His truly amazing grace.
Today’s passage seems harsh—and it is humbling—but it is proof of God’s love for us. After all, Hebrews 12:6 assures us that “God disciplines the one He loves.”
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Images courtesy of:
Smiling Woman – Jose Rivera
Love – Jonathan Gruber