Genuinely Transformed

When I was a kid, before cable television and the internet, when I wasn’t making my own butter, I liked to read comic books.  We had a ton of these kinds of comics in our home.  And one of the unusual things about these comics were the ads that appeared in them.  And I’m going to show you some honest to goodness ads in the back of comic books.  And some old people in here might get a kick out of them.

For instance – we could order Sea Monkeys.  You know – For one dollar you can grow your own trainable sea monkey!  They are trainable!  They want to be loved!    (I was actually shocked to discover you can buy thee bad boys on Amazon right now.  And if any of you do – let me know and we can come over and train them together.  I’ll bring like a tennis ball and a tiny sea monkey shock collar.

Well if Sea Monkeys aren’t your thing there are plenty of other options.  I actually purchased something once from a comic book – it was this foot locker full of 100 army guys.  And I have to tell you – they were a little smaller than I expected.  And a little flatter – but they were awesome!  And I used them.  And you can buy a set on Ebay right now for $50.  But I bet if you private messaged that guy and offered him $3 he’d sell it right now.

There were plenty of other great things we could buy – like a hand grenade – or a Polaris submarine for children.  Hey kids – we are going to the lake!   Get in the submarine!  “I don’t want to mommy”  Get in there kids – we dropped a good dollar on this.  

Or for .50 you can order a surprise package – or a million dollars cash – or a real monkey.  Wait – seriously – a real monkey?  You people from the 70’s man.

There was one item that was the holy grail of comic book purchases – the one thing all of us wanted but none of us had the guts to ask our parents to buy – the Xray vision glasses!  Oh boy!  No more secrets from me!  Xray vision glasses!  No more secrets – I can see everything.  I feel like a TSA agent wearing these things.  I see everything!

Can you imagine for one moment if someone were to invent a way that they could see what’s in your heart.  What you think about?  They can see what you fantasize about?  Who you lust over?  Where you’ve been browsing?  What if I pulled out a pair of glasses that could project on this screen images of the secret you?

There would be a stampede I’m guessing.  And I would be leading the way too.  

In 1886 Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson first published the Strange case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde and here it is 130 years later and it still resonates with us.  We are Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde.

We want to present a picture to the world of Dr. Jekyll – respected – a person who has it all together – the whole time hoping that our evil inner Mr. Hyde doesn’t make a nasty appearance at an inopportune time, right?

What percentage do you think you are of each?  90 percent Dr. Jekyll?  Ten percent Mr Hyde?  Others might be thinking the inverse – 90 percent Hyde – so much Hyde that you are very afraid that Mr. Hyde is about to completely take over.  Some of you are thinking that your Mr Hyde is on the verge of doing something illegal.

Did you know that the Apostle Paul once asked this question – it sounds like it comes right out of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – but it actually comes to us from the book of Romans 7 – and it says…

The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.

I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Now don’t miss the answer!  Paul gives an answer – who will rescue him from the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde life? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Good news!  Good news!  Jesus can put an end to the inner Mr. Hyde!  He can remove that part of us, yes he can!  

In the bible we read about people tearing roofs off of buildings in order to be near him.  When Jesus gets in a boat to cross the sea people race along the shoreline all night long in the dark in order to meet him when he lands on the other side.  You know, it’s worth asking – why is it that non religious kinds of people – people the religious folks derided as tax collectors, prostitutes and ‘notorious sinners” – why did these kinds of people love Jesus so much?

And conversely, what was Jesus preaching that caused the religious head honcho’s of the day to decide that it’s probably best they kill Jesus.  I mean, the most religious, rules following people who ever lived had a meeting where one of them said, I have an idea – I think we should kill Jesus – and the rest of them said, good idea. Talk about a Mr Hyde moment, right?

Why?  Let me tell you why notoriously sinful people were trampling one another to get near Jesus, and why the religious leaders wanted him dead.  Because Jesus was able to deliver what religion could never deliver.

Religion will never free you from the Mr. Hyde inside.  Only Jesus can do it.  Religion might be able to suppress the Mr. Hyde for a time.  And it might reward people who have low percentage Mr. Hyde.  But ultimately religion will never free you from him.

This morning I am bringing you good news.  Good news!  You can be free.  You can be one.  

Good news.  We’ve been studying together the past few weeks the Sermon on the Mount.  Which is Jesus’ seminal sermon.  It’s the sermon where Jesus lays down for all of mankind a vision of the kind of human he is setting out to create.  It is a summary statement of all that will occur in us when we decide to trust Jesus with our life.  

It begins with a decision to turn away from the present kingdom of darkness into which I was born by default.  And instead turn and stumble my way into the Kingdom of Light – the kingdom of Jesus.  

So what have we learned so far from the sermon on the mount?  We learned that the people who were following Jesus were people who did not have their act together.  Matthew 4 gives us a picture that the crowd surrounding Jesus was like the island of misfit toys come to life.  The diseased – the demon possessed – the dying.  Hey – come to my church – totally filled with people coughing hacking and what not.  Sick as could be.  You’ll love it.  They did not have their act together and were thrilled to learn that they didn’t need to have their act together to be accepted by Jesus.

As a matter of fact Jesus declares that what is so great about the Kingdom of Heaven is that people like them can be blessed just by being in it.  Blessable are the poor, the hurting, the weak, the shoved asides.  Blessable are they and blessable are you too, Mrs. “I don’t have it all together.”  

It’s these kinds of people, Jesus says, who will become the salt and light of the world.  Regular joes like me and you – we were created to make life taste better for everyone around us.  We were built to count.  To be different kinds of people that others say – I like being around that guy.  He brings good things.  She’s good for my soul to be around.  You can become that kind of person if you aren’t already.

But in order for that to happen you have to understand how this faith thing works – and it’s probably different than you think.   Jesus tells us, it will require a different kind of rightness.  Life in the Kingdom of Heaven requires a different kind of rightness then the rightness of the religious pharisees.  The Pharisees were all about the technical kind of rightness.  Dr. Jekyll rightness – it just appeared on the outside to be right.

And Jesus is going to now brilliantly compare and contrast – religions idea of rightness – with His idea of rightness.  He is going to show the complete bankruptcy of religion to make a person truly good from the inside out.  

And he’s going to do it by talking about the three greatest polluters of the Human soul.   Money, Sex and power.

Sex money and power are like the unholy trinity of things that pollute a soul, right?  There isn’t anything wrong with them in and of themselves, but if left in the hands of Mr Hyde?  Watch out!

So Jesus first addresses power by addressing anger.  Anger is a way to control – to get your way.  To announce to the world that the king is not pleased…

And the self-righteous religious leaders were very proud that they had never become angry enough to kill someone!  And Jesus is like, You never killed anyone?  Well Lah dee dah!  What – do you want a cookie for that?  A ribbon?  You do know you aren’t supposed to kill someone, right?  

How about all those people you hate?  How about all those people you treat with contempt and scorn? Those people who have wronged you?  And you lay in bed and wishing that the person who wronged you terribly was dead, or suffering, or at least maimed in some painful way – that sounds delicious to you.  

Jesus offers to free us from that internal prison of hatred and offers instead a vision of a new kind of human.  The kind of human being who treats people, even people who have wronged us, with compassion and dignity and respect?

In Matthew Chapter 6 Jesus is going to talk about money.  And how the Pharisees used money to bring themselves recognition.  And we will talk about that in a few weeks.

But today we are going to talk about Sex.  Power money and Sex.  Washington DC, Wall Street and Las Vegas.

I mean, Las Vegas?  Isn’t that a city that has built itself on the notion that Mr. Hyde deserves a vacation too.  Let’s celebrate the inner Mr. Hyde.  Give him what he wants for a few days.  Let him out and breath.  It’ll be fun and no one will ever know.  What goes on here stays here.

And so now in Matthew 5 Jesus is going to talk about sex.  Or about the combination of power and sex – when he writes this… 27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Okay – so let’s stop and talk about this.  What is going on?

Jesus is taking to task those who felt they were righteous because they had never ‘technically’ broken the 7th commandment.  Jesus is showing us the shallowness and emptiness of technical rightness.  

When it comes to sexuality, the inner Mr Hyde works very hard to parse the technicalities of faithfulness.  And it sounds something like

1.  Technically, I am just flirting with that guy at work – it’s not adultery.  It’s just an emotional thing.
2.  Technically – I am just looking – I am window shopping – I can look at the produce so long as I don’t touch the produce I am righteous.  
3.  Technical rightness when it comes to sex is, well, it’s just pornography – It’s not personal.  
4.  Technically, we are just fooling around and since we haven’t had intercourse it’s not technically adultery.  We famously had a president who went for technical innocence while he was in office by parsing out the sexual acts and declaring them to be sexual but not reaching the technical level of actual adultery.  He was certainly not the first to do that, and indeed you might be doing the same thing.
5.  Technical rightness sounds like, well, I could technically have an affair and then repent and confess my sins to God right away and the Bible says he will forgive me sins.  And so, I could plan on having an affair and then just ask for forgiveness, right?
6.  Technical rightness in this area sounds like someone who says, “Well Jesus was the one who said that thinking lustfully about a woman is the same as actually having an affair with her so, if that’s the case I might as well go ahead and have an affair there is no difference, I guess.  

And just for the record there certainly is a difference.  Actual adultery is clearly worse than lust.  And I’d hate for anyone to think – well, Jesus says that lusting after someone is the same as adultery, and so I might as well go all the way and have an affair on my spouse.

Is this kind of religion the best God can offer us?  You know, Jesus said he came to bring us good news!  Is that good news?  “Good news – Come join me at my church where you can learn how to be a technically good person.  Come and we will teach you fine print contract Christianity that will allow you to think you are a right kind of person and all the while let you pretty much do whatever you want to do at the same time.

How about becoming a genuine good person?  A genuinely loving a caring human being?  

Jesus brings us hope.  Hope that we can really be different kinds of people.

That our inner and evil Mr. Hyde doesn’t have to run the secret show inside of me any longer.  Jesus can turn you into the kind of person who, even in your thought life – loves others.  Elevates them instead of using them.  

Can you imagine for a moment becoming the kind of person who would not even think about fantasizing about violating another person in your lust?

Let me ask you something – do you think you will be missing out on something fun or exciting if you didn’t have lust pulsating through your body? Do you think life will become boring?

I’d suggest that if you live your life allowing lust to run the show, then you are nothing more than a boring clone of most of humanity.  

How about being the you you were meant to be?  A you that loves people and lifts up people – even in the secret world of your thought life.   A You that can live like without ever having to go through a day without fearing your secret will be exposed – that you will be busted?  How about you become a person who doesn’t have to swallow a daily dose of shame on the inside – let’s let that go.  

Let’s submit ourselves to Jesus and allow him to transform us from the inside out.

So how?  What can we do if we find ourselves routinely degrading people in our thought life?  How can we become people who, by nature, elevate others instead of lusting after them?

1.  Decide whether you think Jesus is trying to keep something good from you when he says we can live anger and lust.  Some guys are like, if you take anger and lust from me you’ve taken half my emotions away.  All that’s let are hungry and tired.  

If somehow you think that life apart from anger and lust will make life boring, then you are missing the point and you might need to settle in your mind once and for all which life you think is the good life.  Jesus seems to think that life will be much better if we remove the staple of lust and anger from our life.

Maybe you need to start with a personal vision of what your life will look like without lust driving your heart to dark places.

2.  You need to make a decision to do whatever is necessary to persevere in this fight.  And to submit to the process to become free.

Jesus goes on to say
 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, 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. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger 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 be thrown into hell.

Okay.  What??  What is going on here?  Is Jesus being literal?  Of course not! How do we know?

Because we all know – just as they knew in the first century – that you can pluck both eyes out and still be a dirty old man.

You can mutilate your body and still muddle your way through life with a wicked angry, lustful heart.  

Jesus is highlighting the absurdity of the Pharisees outside, in, external kind of rightness.   If lust causes you to sin, then your eyes must be the reason why.  No!  It’s always a matter of the heart.  It’s always a matter of the soul.

And so the way to address it isn’t outside in, it’s by allowing God to do a new work on the inside of you.

My role is to be determined to submit myself to God and allow him to lead me through the process of doing what it takes to become the kind of person Jesus says I can become, I am willing to do the difficult thing to become the kind of person who doesn’t look lustfully at others.
 
3.  Flee what needs fleeing.  Decisions you know will lead you into unseemly places.  There is a reason why the Bible talks about fleeing the sexual immorality – 1 Cor 6:18 18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.
 and also 2 Tim 2:22 – 22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.
a mistake we often make in these situations is trying to fight something we should flee.

Some need to flee the internet.  Just get rid of the internet.  Turn in your smart phone that feeds the inner Mr Hyde – some people would begin to shut down the spigot of pollution just by turning in your smart phone for a good old Motorola star tac.

Do you have the courage to flee?  

4.  Stop what needs stopping.  Listen, some of you have convinced yourself that pornography is innocent fun.  It isn’t.  It’s addicting, its degrading, and there should be no part of it in your marriage.  Some of you watch porn together as a couple.  And some of you are like, shut up Phil!  I finally convinced my spouse it’s a good thing – well, it ain’t.  It’s not good and it should go.  I’m doing you a favor here – your life will be better without that.

And while I’m at it – here’s another thing to stop.  I remember I was with a guy one time and we were watching television and this woman came on the screen who was dressed skimpily and this guy says, Hmmm!  She is hot!  And then he says, It’s okay – my wife knows I’m just window shopping.  Stop doing that or I will punch you in the face in Jesus name.  It’s terribly dishonoring to your spouse.

5.  Start what needs starting.  And for some that means you might need to go to counseling.  That’s okay – Spence Counseling can help.  And we can help pay the bill if need be.  

Other times, all people need to begin to experience some transformation in their soul in regards to lust or other addiction’s is a support groups.  They just need to be in a room with other people learning to have victory together.  If you go to Journey’s website – there is a link there for support groups – and if you click the link it will take you to Christ Community Church’s web page -they have an incredible support system of groups – including groups for guys fighting lust.  

They know we do this – I called them and told them – I worked there for 11 years and so they owe me one.  Free childcare on Tuesday nights – take a few minutes and see if you need to start going to one of these groups.

Imagine what awaits you on the other side?  Imagine the freedom that is waiting for you.  It will take work and determination and a great deal of humility.  But I remember hearing someone say that often times we are faced with a choice.  It’s either humility or humiliation.  

Mr Hyde will lead us to humiliation.  Let’s resolve together that it’s time to kill Mr. Hyde.  In Jesus name, it’s time to kill him so that the real you can live.

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