Are you living a Christlike life? The season is almost about to change, and it will be harvesting time soon. In the very first sermon I preached publicly, I preached that heaven was on my mind. I am a heaven focused individual; my goal is to be in heaven one day with my Lord. That should be a goal of all of ours – to get to heaven. The Lord is going to gather in His harvest soon enough and He’s going to want to see if you made the necessary change.
Sin is a Part of Us
This is Jesus speaking in my key verses for today’s sermon. These two verses are within a passage of scripture where Jesus is warning about offenses (sins). He exclaimed (Matt. 18:7), “Woe to the world because of offenses!” Jesus admits that sin is going to happen in the world. Yet, He also lays out a warning to those that cause others to sin. (That’s a different sermon that we will get to at some point.)
Those two things led Jesus to saying what we read in our key verses today. He mentions the other things that can cause us to sin: the hand, foot, and the eyes. Jesus says, if those things cause you to sin, to cut it off, pluck it out, and throw out those sinful things.
Change is needed
In last week’s sermon, I preached about the little member that can defile our body – the tongue (Jas. 3:5-6). In order for us to enter into the heavenly kingdom, scripture tells us repeatedly that a change of person is required. We looked at the need to change the tongue last week, but if you have a goal of entering heaven, more change is required.
As you have heard me say before, God wants to dwell eternally with His special creation – mankind. The problem with this happening is that none of us are initially fit to dwell with the Lord eternally. The reason being that we are all born into a world of sin. This world is so full of sin that sin becomes a part of our being (our spirit). God certainly wants to dwell with us eternally, but He is never going to dwell with creatures of sin.
WE cannot change our spirit; that is something that God has to do and our faith in Him is required. When the Lord transforms our spirit, we are given a new sight and the tongue changes. God has done His part, and we should be renewed by this transformation (Rom. 12:2).
Get Rid of what Holds You Down
What I want all of you to understand is that the spiritual transformation is only the beginning of our new journey. There is a work of growth that is required of all believers. We are to strive to be a creature that is truly Christlike. Unfortunately, many of us fail to realize this and we stop putting forth the work to truly be Christlike. There are many who say that they are a child of God, but are they really striving to be Christlike in their ways?
We know whether or not we are striving to be Christlike through our speech and in our walk (our actions). God can give us a new talk and a new walk, but we must actually put for the effort to walk in the newness! Paul tells us this when he wrote (Eph. 4:22), “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man.” I want you to fully understand that we must still do some work after God has transformed our spirit.
The old man
Now, you have probably heard me mention this person in passing before, but let’s talk about this person. There is a person that we face more than any other person that we must overcome and defeat. You may think that I am talking about Satan, and yes, he is certainly the great enemy of God and mankind. At the very same time, there is someone else who is a very great enemy for you. That person: your former conduct — your old self.
The Lord transforms our spirit and we are born with a new vision, but that old vision, those old thoughts, still remain in our head. That old man (our old self) is always at war with our new self trying to fight back to the surface. Paul described this as a war of the flesh and the spirit (Gal. 5:17). So, we should cut off the old man from resurfacing.
How do we know when the old man is trying to resurface? Well, Paul said that the old man lived according to deceitful lusts. When we notice that our actions are born out of deceitful lusts, we should take pause! In order for us to cut off the old man, we must put off those old lusts – remove that old mindset completely!
Does this happen overnight? Certainly not. In fact, this is a task that can be very laborious, but we must not ever conform to that old man (our old ways). There are going to be many ways that we thought were right, that we will see was not good for us living Christlike. Our goal is heaven – heaven is worth the labor of cutting off our former self.
Now, we see also in our key verses, the need to cut off the hand, foot, and pluck out the eye. These things I said were representative of our attachments. As our hands, feet, and eyes are attached to our body, we have other things that are attached to us. Some of what is attached to us actually promote living a healthy Christlike life. At the same time, there are some other attachments we have that are full of sin that do not promote living a Christlike life.
Some of the attachments to consider: our lifestyle (worldly attachments), family, friendships, and even your employment. Many of us do not realize just how some of these attachments play a role in setting our mindset. Anything that can influence your mindset is an attachment of yours! Again, our goal is heaven and living a Christlike life.
Though many of our attachments are near and dear to us (like our hand, feet, and eyes), it is better to cut off the sinful parts than keep them. It is better to enter heaven lame, maimed, and with one eye – without those sinful attachments – than not enter heaven at all. Jesus was telling us that we must cast off those attachments that can keep us from walking in the way of God and do not promote living Christlike.
Family and friendships that do not promote living in the way of the Lord should be thrown away. Worldly attachments (lifestyles) that do not promote living in the way of the Lord, should be thrown out. Employment that does not promote living in the way of the Lord, should be cast off.
The End Goal
There is truly a sad reality in all of this. The sad reality: there are going to be many dear things, or even people, that only serves to a point of wickedness. Some of our attachments may certainly be dear to us, but if they keep us from walking in the way of God, they must be thrown out. If we choose to hold on to those attachments of wickedness, sin is still a part of us and we also end up in everlasting fire with those attachments.
Our end goal should be to enter into the heavenly kingdom of the Lord. Our focus should be on living a life that is pleasing to God. Am I suggesting you live a life of loneliness? Certainly not. My suggestion for today is that we all consider our attachments and whether or not they are promoting Christ or wickedness. If we are being influenced to sin by our attachments, by our old self, we must cut those things off from us!