Week 6

Shannon Lovelady
September 9, 2018

You want your life to be changed? Then choose to kill Shannon so Christ can live. 
— Shannon Lovelady

We've been in this series called “Bear Fruit” for the last few weeks. We've got this week and next week and then we're going be wrapping up "Bear Fruit.” Basically what we've been talking about for the last few weeks is that the Gospel is way more than what happens after we die. The Gospel is about God changing us here and now and that our lives should bear fruit and things should look differently in our lives. I know that we're all coming in this morning from all different kinds of places. Some of us are on a spiritual high, some of us on a spiritual low, some of us are just “life is great,” and some of us, as Andrew was talking about earlier, just feel like we are one step away from the grave this morning. So my prayer for you is, number one that you'll be encouraged this morning as we talk about what the Gospel means. 

I just want to make sure that we make the foundation again, crystal clear. In week one we talked about that our future hope determines how we live today. We talked about that as believers not only is our future hope eternity, but our future hope is that Jesus promises He began this good work in us and He's going to be faithful to complete it. So the guy that I was yesterday is not the guy that I am today, and the guy that I am today is not the guy who I'm going to be tomorrow. On this side of eternity, Jesus is in the process of changing me. He is in the process of changing my heart. 

Week two, we talked about howJesus is the mechanism for that change, that Jesus is the avenue for that change. Specifically, scripture teaches us that as the bride of Christ, we are literally married to Jesus Christ. We are in this covenant union with a Holy God, and because of that, we receive all the blessings, all the assets that the groom possesses, His righteousness, His holiness. And again, man, I want to encourage you guys, some of you this morning, need to hear that above anything else that you are righteous. You are holy, you are forgiven, you are perfect, you are redeemed, and it's not because of you, it’s because of our groom, Jesus Christ. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. Not only did He take on our sin, take on our shortcomings, take on our failures, but He imparted His righteousness, His attributes on the us and scripture teaches that I've become the righteousness of God. That is a beautiful, beautiful thing. It is legal. It is binding. It is covenantal. We also talked about this relationship aspect of marriage that as time goes on in any relationship, much like my relationship with Natasha over the last twenty-two years, we become more and more like each other as time goes on. The same is true in our relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Then we talked about that ultimately this relationship and this covenantal union, the way we are with Jesus Christ, drives us to worship. This worship aspect of marriage drives us to our knees. Worship is not an active obligation. Worship is not an act of duty. It's not something that I must do, that I have to do. Worship is when I understand the gospel, when I understand the grace that I've been given, and what has been imparted on me and the sin that has been removed from me in this relationship that I'm in with a Holy God, then I can't help but respond in worship and believe with all of my heart. 

Let's be crystal clear. I know some of you guys this morning when you hear “worship,” you think sing songs and raise your hands. We are all worshipers. Keith talked about this last week. We are all worshipers. Our lives are acts of worship. It's not a matter of “if” we worship, it's a matter of “who” or “what” we worship, what we desire, what we crave. So worship goes way beyond singing songs on a Sunday morning. It is an overflow of the heart, of a grateful heart for what God has done. 

Then the third week we talked about that real change happens in community. Because of this relationship that we're in with Jesus Christ, we belong to each other. It's in these relationships, in this covenantal relationship that we have with each other, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. That's where the Gospel really begins to take root. 

How many guys are married in here this morning or how many guys are in any sort of relationship with anyone this morning? If you are in a relationship with anybody, you understand that is where the real fruits of the spirit began to be tested. Does that make sense? You know, if you're in a relationship with someone, you understand that it's in a relationship where you begin to learn forgiveness. It's in a relationship where you begin to learn patience. 

Anybody have kids? Yeah, kids, I know you feel like I pick on you all the time. Trust me. You'll understand one day you'll get it. You'll say the same thing about your kids. It's in relationship where we begin to learn patience and love, forgiveness, forbearance, all these different things that scripture promises that He is imparting on us. And again on our own, we don't have a chance for those fruits to grow, or for that fruit to really take root. It's in relationship where God does that and He grows us together so we belong to each other. It's in relationship where real change happens. 

Then we talked about the fourth week that we all live in a broken, fallen world. We live in a broken fallen world where we all experience heat. There is no avoiding it and we talked about heat as simply life circumstances, good and bad. Life circumstances, good and bad in scripture again, teaches over and over and both James and Philippians in different places say that we should consider suffering, pure joy. Why? Because ultimately suffering is what draws us to Christ. Ultimately, it's in suffering where we're able to grow, and again, these roots are built deep down in us. This root of Jesus Christ is in this heart change, that we're talking about. It’s where it has opportunity to grow and so we get to choose.

Keith talked about it last week. The thorns of life. The thorns are simply our natural response to heat, our natural response to suffering when I don't get what I want. How do I respond? What do I do? It's our sinful action response. Last week, Keith did an incredible job explaining how, typically in the church, we spend a whole lot of time focusing on the external response. We spend a whole lot of time saying, “I’ve got to quit rolling my eyes at my wife.” Right? Or “I've got to quit unleashing on all my kids that way. That’s sinful.” And we're right. That is sinful. But if all we do is address the external response, the thorns that we see, all those areas Keith talked about, well, it’s just a barometer of what's going on inside of our heart. Keith opened his sermon and talked about how stupid would he be if his car is overheating and he said, "Don't worry about it. I got it.” And he smashed out the window of his dashboard and took the dial and turned it back down to cold. “Well, there you go. It's fixed,” right? How ignorant will we be? You would say “You're a fool, Shannon. You’re a fool,Keith.” 

Now what you’ve got to do is understand that external behavior is just a symptom of what's actually going on inside of our heart. Why? Because again, we're worshipers. So when I roll my eyes at my wife, the reality is I roll my eyes at my wife because maybe I wasn't getting what I wanted from my wife. I wasn't getting the affirmation that I wanted from my wife. It's not a matter of “Shannon, stop rolling your eyes at your wife.” It's a matter of “Shannon, stop craving your wife's affirmation more than you crave honoring God with your life.” Does that make sense? I mean, affirmation of my wife is not a bad thing, but it becomes a bad thing when I desire affirmation from my wife more than a desire to honor God with my wife. To lay down my life for my wife as Ephesians talks about. To love my wife the way God loved the church, the way Jesus loved the church. So we talked about our thorns. We talked about our external responses are just a symptom of what's going on inside the heart. 

Today we're actually going to get to the Gospel. We're going to talk about, “Okay, so what do we do? Now that I understand that I'm a sinner and that I’ve got issues.” As a matter of fact, you know what? I'm going to free you guys up this morning. Turn to your neighbor and tell him “I'm a sinner and I've got issues.” Go ahead. Let's take it a step further. Not just, I say bad things are. I act in bad ways, but turn to your neighbor, turn to your wife, turn to your husband. This will be very, very freeing. Don't point at them. Point to yourself. All right. Remember, it's not that the bottle is being tipped. It's what's in the bottle that is the problem and that's you. That's all on you. Tell them I’ve got a messed up heart. Go ahead. Tell them. Isn’t that freeing. Doesn't that feel good? 

So today we're going to talk about what do we do with our messed up heart. What do we do with that? Have you ever thought about life? Life is all about living out potential. That's it. If you could sum up life in a nutshell, life is all about living out potential, specifically living out new potential. We do it from the time we come out of our Mama's womb, right? We come out of our Mama's womb, and what's the first thing that we do as babies? We go “GASP” and Keith talked about it last week. The first thing we do is we begin to worship. Life is all about worship. Life is all about living out this new potential, and so we come out of our mamas’ wombs and the first thing we want is we want, right? 

We want air, then we want food, and the reality is we're learning to take it all in, in different ways from the time we come out of our Mama's womb. It's, “Oh, I can breathe. Oh, I can eat and now I can cry and get what I want if I scream loud enough.” Right? It goes on and on and “Oh, I can crawl.” It's new potential. You guys know when you had toddlers. They began to toddle. They stand up and their legs are wobbling and you can see the fear in their eyes and you hold their hand and they take the next step and they wobble. You begin to let go of her hand a little bit. They're living out new potential through riding a bike, training wheels, new potential to teenagers driving cars. Terrifying, but new potential, right? Learning new potential, and living out this new potential from beginning to date to asking your wife to marry you. I mean think about it. Literally, going to bed, getting up in the morning and every moment of every day is about living out new potential. 

You woke up this morning and what did you have to do this morning? Help me out. Audience participation. What did you have to do this morning when the alarm went off and have a cup of coffee. All right. What'd you have to do before you had a cup of coffee? You had to choose whether you're going to get out of bed or not. You did. You were living in the potential of “Do I really want to do this right now?” Right. First of all you had to choose whether you're going to hit snooze again. Anyone? Man, the iphone! It is terrifying how easy it is to just slap that thing and it's off, right? But you have to choose,  “Am I going to get up?" Then you get up and you have a new potential of deciding “Am I going to get coffee? Am I going to go without, am I going to eat breakfast?” You chose where to sit this morning. Some of you guys are scared to death to live with new potential of where you sit on a Sunday morning. It’s so funny, man. I walked in, I came off the stage and there's literally the entire back of the room is full at a quarter til. I said, “You guys do realize there's really good seats still up front, right?” It's like, “Heck no, we don't do that.” But life is all about living out this new potential. A job. 

Today is about the cross. Today's about the Gospel and this new potential that we've been given. We've talked about this relationship with Jesus Christ and today I hope that we understand that this relationship with Jesus Christ gives us new potential like no other. This person that you've heard me talk about that I was, and that I am not, and that I do not want to be tomorrow, that can be all of us by the power of the cross, by the power of the Gospel, by the power of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and now alive in us, not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done. So we're going to look at one of my favorite verses for a few minutes. Then we're going to skip around a little bit, but we're going to look at Galatians 2:20. So, if you want to open up your Bibles to Galatians 2:20. We’re going to check out that verse for a few minutes and I'm going to pray, and then we're going to get into the Word.

God, thank you for your Word. I thank you that your Word is alive. It's active. It's sharper than a two edged sword, God. So get me out of the way this morning. Let's your Word speak, God. I know because I've experienced it beyond a shadow of a doubt that your grace, Christ crucified, now alive in me has the power to change. Not because of anything I've done, my potential is not because of me so that I can boast, but because of who Christ is in me, and so God, I thank you for that and my prayer simply this morning is I know that there are a lot of people in this room who desperately need to understand your grace. People who are coming in here looking for hope. God, I pray that this morning, above everything that they see, that the power of the cross, the power of Jesus Christ, your life and your death and your resurrection has the power to change us forever. To experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control. God, It's such a beautiful picture of who you are and what you want to do in us. So God, we just cling to your Word this morning. God speak to us wherever we may be, challenge us where we need challenged. Convict us, where we need conviction, God comfort us, where we need comfort in Jesus' name. Amen. 

So Galatians 2:20. You guys have heard it a thousand times. It says this, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live, but it's Christ who lives in me, so I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. I just want to look at that first phrase. It says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ and is no longer I who live.” Y'all say that with me. Let's read that part together. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live.” 

Paul is writing this to the church at Galatians. He's reminding the church. He's saying, “You have to remember the Gospel. You have to remember the Gospel. You have to remember what was taught. Quit buying into this lie that you have to behave right, that you have to act right. That is not the gospel! The Gospel is that your old self has been crucified with Christ and it's no longer you who live.” Paul is writing to this church to say, “Remember the Gospel.” When Paul says, “I've been crucified. It's no longer I who live,” he is saying, “When Jesus died, I died. When Jesus died, I died.” 

I want you guys to get out your pens, get out your phones, get out, whatever. You’ve got to get it out because I want you guys to take this home. I want you to put this to practice. I promise you this is life changing, not only for you but for your loved ones, for your coworkers, for your neighbors, when we can truly understand what this verse means. 

Paul says, “When Jesus died, I died,” spiritually speaking.” He says that we’re united in death with Jesus Christ, now. Again, people don't like to talk about this part of the Gospel. There's a very real part of the Gospel that says that before I can be alive again in Christ, Shannon has to die. Let me say that one more time. Before I can say I'm alive in Christ. I have to die. Guys, that’s what baptism represents. What a beautiful thing this morning and isn’t that amazing. We will have forever long worship services all day long for baptisms. I think we've got like four or five more baptisms next week. I'm so excited about what God is doing, and what God is doing is people are understanding that I have to lay down my life. I have to die, and Christ cannot live in me until I'm willing to die to me. Simply what that means is I have to recognize that my life is not about me anymore, that I was never created for me. I was never created for my comfort. I was never created for my wife to tell me how great I am. I wasn't created to receive pleasure from my wife. I wasn't created for a church to tell me how good of a preacher I am. I wasn't created so that my kids would respect me. That is not why I was created. I was created for one purpose and one purpose only, and that has defined my meaning, my hope, my value, my worth, my everything in God and God alone. 

The devil is a liar and he desperately wants us to believe, “Nah, life's about you. Shannon. Life's about you. You deserve respect. You deserve for your wife to love you. She knows your love languages. You deserve for your kids to honor you.” Paul comes along and he says, “Shannon, here's what you’ve got to understand. Because Christ died, then it alters who you are now.” And if I truly understand the Gospel, it is not Shannon who lives anymore. I chose twenty-three years ago to die to me. The beauty of this when it comes to new potential is guess what? You know what this means? When I say, kill Shannon, the beauty of this is I actually have the choice not to sin anymore. See, because here's the reality. Outside of Christ crucified, and now alive in me, and the death of Shannon, outside of that, I didn't have an option. We're created again for one purpose, one purpose only. That's to live for God, to find our everything in God. Outside of Christ, I wasn't able to do that. Now because of my death, I now have a choice. I don't have to sin. 

So let's go on. He says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live.” What's that next little part say? But what?  “But Christ lives in me.” Christ lives in me. You know what this means? And again, this is what the church misses out on. Paul is saying that Christ didn't just make a new better me. I didn't die in Christ just so that Shannon could become a better improved version. That's not what he says at all, but Christ died so that my identity is now Christ. My identity IS Christ. Not just somebody who's better at controlling their sin. You guys have heard me talk about it. Natasha is a great “behaver.” The woman loves a rule, always has. I don't understand that. I hate a rule. Aren't you glad that the Kingdom of Heaven isn't set apart for just rule followers? The Kingdom of Heaven is set apart for those who are willing to die to self so that Christ can live. See, my life now isn't about me. My identity now isn't about me. My identity is Christ. Christ now dwells here in this heart. 

I know some of you guys are sitting here today and you're going, I don't feel like it. It doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem natural. Go all the way back to week two. It's covenantal. It's binding. It's who you are. You are in a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ and you are the righteousness of God. Turn to your neighbor right now, if you're a believer, and say, “I'm the righteousness of God.” Say it like you mean it. I know your wives are looking at you going, “Come on now.” But seriously, wife, he is. You're the righteousness of God. That is your identity, now. That's who you are. That's scripture. That's not my words. That is who you are. My old self has been replaced with Jesus Christ. Then Paul goes on and he says, “It's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me now.” 

Now it gets to the good part. So now, here's what life looks like. Paul says, “So now I live in this earthly body by trusting in who? The Son of God, by trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.” See, Paul says that the old principle of sin and death is gone. It's this new principle of power and grace of Christ that resides in us. I no longer live by what I possess, or by what I desire? I no longer live by how well educated I am or where my upbringing came from or what part of town I grew up in. I don't live under that new potential. Guys, you have to understand Galatians 2:20 says that my new potential is what? Somebody help me out. Christ! Our new potential is Christ, Church, and you want to talk about the power of the Gospel. 

You want to talk about the ability to beat addiction. I know some of you guys have been trying to beat addiction. You've been going to AA, you've been into Pornography Anonymous or whatever, for forever, and you feel beat up. You feel worn out because you've been trying to do it under your own strength. I'm telling you, man, your potential doesn't cut it. But Christ crucified and now alive in me, the potential of God Almighty indwelling in me, the God that created the universe, the God that knit me together in my mother's womb, the God that knew my name before time began, that potential is immeasurable. And that's the potential we have. 

So the question then becomes, and let's just be real for a second, why does it seem so dang hard? Anybody? Come on, there's seven of you that are honest. Well, why does it seem so hard, right? Why is it so difficult then? Why? Scripture talks about acting like a dog that returns to its vomit. If this is really true, if who I really am is Christ, if I really am the righteousness of God and I have the potential of God Almighty indwelling in my heart, now why do I return to my vomit over and over and over again? That's the million dollar question. It's simply this. Write this down. We forget two things. Write this down. I'm telling you, this is life changing, not because it's me, but because it's His Word. We forget two things.

These two things are the core to our new potential. Faith and repentance. Write it down. I know you think, oh, now you've being churchy, but trust me. Faith and repentance. Write it down. I'll stay here until you write it down. Have you got a phone? Pull out your phone, type it on your phone. Do something. Faith and repentance, faith and repentance. 

What is faith? Faith is simply this. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It gives us assurance about things that we cannot see.” Let me read that one more time. This is faith. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.” It gives us a surety about things that we cannot see. Let's go all the way back to week one. You guys remember week one? Your future hope determines how you live today. What do you hope for, Church? Do you really believe that you can be changed? That's not a hypothetical question. Answer me. Do you really think the power of Jesus Christ can change you? Come on now. Do we believe this? Then wake up. Do we believe this? Yeah, and if you really believe this, faith tells us that it is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. 

Do you really believe your marriage can be different? Do you really believe your marriage can be different? Do you really believe that you can quit being a porn addict? Do you really believe that that addiction can be done away with?  Do you really believe that you can start to treat your spouse kindly? Do you really believe that your family can look different tomorrow than it does today? Do you believe that, Church? We forget, don't we? So what is it that we forget? What's this faith that we lose? This future, this hope that we have, write this down. Faith in who we are in Christ. Faith in who we are in Christ. 

I want you to look at 1 John 2. This is the principle of justification, which is just a fancy word for we're made righteous, that we are made right. We are in right standing before God. Again, we've grown up our entire lives believing that “No, I can't be made right. I'm not righteous. I'm not pure. I'm not holy. I can't because life is all about you act right, and then I'll tell you, you're right.” We do that with our kids. Our parents did that to us. We do that in school. You're not right. You can't be made right unless you're right and the scripture tells us, “No, you are the righteousness of God.” Well, we don't have faith in that. We don't have faith in who we are in Christ. John says this in 1 John 2:1, “My dear children, I'm writing this to you so that you will not sin.” I mean, ultimately, that's what we desire this side of heaven. I think we would all agree with that. If we could lead a sinless life, our marriages would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t they? Let's just be honest about that. If we could walk out perfection with our kids, we'd be pretty good dang parents, wouldn't we? In the workplace and the church.

 So John says, “I'm writing this to you so that you will not sin.” But then he says, “but if any one of you does sin,” we have a what? An advocate, or a lawyer. Someone who will plead to the Father on our behalf. We have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father.” Who is that advocate, Church? Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous and He is the sacrifice that atones for our sins, and not only our sins, but the sins for all the world. Basically, what this means is that Jesus has said, “Listen, I paid the price, Father. I know Shannon's a porn addict. I know he treats his kids like crap. I know he talks mean to his wife. I know he punches holes in windshields. I know he kicks holes in sheet rock and that he almost got in a fight with another pastor on staff one time.” Jesus stands before the Father and He pleads on my behalf. Yet while I was still a sinner, hear me, that’s scripture. Yet while I was still a sinner, He stands before the Father and He says, “Father, I know Shannon doesn't look like it. I know he looks like a moron. I know he looks like an idiot and I know he keeps going back to that same vomit over and over and over again, but Father, remember, I paid that price and it's not just to punish twice for the same crime.” He stands before the Father, our lawyer, our advocate, and He says, “You can't punish him. I took it and I am part of my righteousness on him.” Now let me ask you, do you have faith, Church? I know you don't see it. I know all those things I just mentioned, you’re just going, how can you say that? How can you say that? Because that's who I was. It’s who I was externally. It’s who I was in here, my heart. That was my behavior. I was an idiot. I still am in a lot of ways, but Jesus stands before the Father and says, “Nope, he's righteous.” 

So do you have faith, Church? So why is this so hard? Number one, because we forget who we are. He says, “Not only are we righteous, not only have we been justified” but in 1 John 3, he says, “See how very much our Father loves us for He calls us His children, and that is what we are. But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we're God's children because they don't know Him. Dear friends, we are already God's children.” I know you don't feel like it. I mean you don't feel like a son or daughter of the most High King, but you are. He says, “We are already His children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He truly is and all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.” Church, do you have faith? 

So, why is it so hard? Because we forget what we've been declared. We lose faith because we live life by our sight, by our feel, not by what we've been declared. What is faith? Believing in things that we can't see it. It's hoping in things that we've been promised. Church, you need to understand. Husband, you need to understand this morning, I know you feel like an idiot. I know you feel like you can't measure up, but you need to understand you are the righteousness of God. If you have given your life to Jesus Christ, if you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, if you have died to self so that Christ can live and said, “My life is no longer about me,” then you are the righteousness of God. Period. End of discussion. That's it. So do you have faith, Church? We’ve got to have faith. 

Then what's the second thing I said we forget? We forget the repentance thing. This is where it gets tough. Luke 15 is one of my favorite stories in scripture. Luke 15 is a story that a lot of you guys are familiar with. This is the story of the prodigal son. Here's how repentance works. A lot of us can't truly repent because we forget faith. A lot of us can't truly repent because I don't have faith that I really am righteous. A lot of us can’t truly repent because I don't have faith that I really am a child of God, that I really am adopted, that I really am accepted, that I really am loved, and that really cannot be taken away. 

So we get to this story in Luke 15:11. We'll start there. “Just to illustrate this point further, Jesus told them this story. A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between the sons and a few days later, the younger son packed all his belongings and he moved to a distant land and there he wasted all his money in wild living. And about the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve and he persuaded a local farmer to hire him. And the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. And the young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs look good to him, but no one gave him anything.” 

So this guy hit rock bottom. This guy understood that he had blown it all. This guy understood that he had forgotten everything, that he had turned his back on his father. And he finds himself in a desperate situation. Anybody there? And he says this in verse 17. What's it say? “When he finally came to his senses.” See, here's what repentance looks like, Church. We’ve got to come to our senses. We’ve got to wake up. We’ve got to remember that your biggest problem isn't your wife. Your biggest problem isn't your dad. Your biggest problem isn't your job. Your biggest problem isn't your money. Your biggest problem isn't that your car's broken down. Your biggest problem isn't that you're tired. Your biggest problem isn’t in anything except… what's your biggest problem? Somebody help me out. You! You’re the biggest problem, you. My biggest problem is me. 

This guy wakes up and he's just finally realized, “I'm an idiot.” My problem isn't my circumstances. My circumstances drove me to discovering I'm an idiot. The way my wife talks to me actually helped me see that there's some nasty stuff going on inside of my heart. Back to the thorns of last week, right? The way my kids disrespect me, show me that while I say with my mouth that I want to honor God, the reality is when the heat hits and when suffering happens, this nastiness comes out of me and it's not about you being tipped. It's about what's inside of you when you got tipped. This guy wakes up and he says, “Dang it, I'm an idiot. I had it made.” He comes to his senses. 

It has been said that we do what we do, because we want what we want. Quit pointing at everybody else. Quit saying, “If you wouldn't talk to me this way, then I wouldn’t…” You do what you do, because you want what you want. I roll my eyes at my wife because I want a wife that's going to tell me I'm amazing. When she doesn't tell me I'm amazing, or when she sends me a short text message telling me, “Oh, I'm really praying for you this morning. You’re amazing.” We do what we do because we want what we want. Church, wake up. Keith said last week that John Calvin said, “Our hearts are idol factories.” What's laying claim to your heart? Is it truly God Almighty or is it the cush life? Is it truly God Almighty or is it peace? And again, there's nothing wrong with peace. There's nothing wrong with adoration of your kids. There's nothing wrong with those things, but when you crave those things more than you crave relationship with Jesus Christ, then you’ve got an issue. 

This guy finally gets it and he goes, “Dang it, I had it and I blew it!” He comes to his senses, and so what's he do next? He comes to his sense and he says to himself, “At home, even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here, I am dying of hunger.” Verse eighteen says, “I’ll go home, be with my father and say…” What's he say? “Father, I have sinned.” Father, I have sinned. He admits his sin. He admits his sin, Church. We’ve got to wake up and we’ve got to admit our sin. You know why we can admit our sin now. Because we have faith that yes, I'm a sinner, but that's not who I really am. Who I am really is the righteousness of God and when I understand that I've been made right, when I understand that Jesus Christ is my identity, it makes it a whole lot easier to say, “I blew it right here, but that doesn't affect my standing with God.” He's not shocked by my failure. So he admits his sin and admitting our sin is the beginning of repentance, Church. 

You need to understand me when I talk about repentance. 2 Corinthians 7 talks about godly sorrow versus worldly sorrow. Repentance isn’t, “I'm sad because of my circumstances. I'm sad that I'm now losing my wife. I'm sad that my kids don't respect me. I'm sad that I blew it and I've lost my job.” That's not repentance. Repentance is understanding that your sin had a cost and that cost was Jesus Christ and it breaks your heart and it drives you to your knees. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7, as he's talking to the church at Corinth, “I see that it's not worldly sorrow anymore. You're not sorry about your circumstances. You're sorry that you broken the heart of God and how do I know that it's true, godly repentance. It's true godly sorrow, because it's changing you.” He says you've done everything you can to make things right. 

True repentance sees that it's not about changing your behavior. It's about understanding that my heart is desiring something other than the one true God and it's about getting to the root of my behavior and saying, “God change me, shape me, mold me. God, show me why it is I keep unleashing on my kids. Show me why it is I keep going back to the bottle. Show me why it is that I keep treating my wife with disrespect. Show me why it is, God. What is it that my heart desires.” As David prayed, “Search my heart, show me any unclean ways within me.” And we can do that with confidence, Church. Hear me, Church. This is a scary prayer, but you can do that with confidence when you have faith, when you have hope in things that we have been assured and things that we cannot see, and we know that I am righteous. I am holy and perfect. Why? Because of the blood of Jesus Christ and when I have faith in that, when I remember who I am in Christ, I'm able to confidently go before the throne and lay down my sin at the feet of the cross and say, “Father, change me.” 

So we repent of our sin. We repent of our self righteousness, of trying to justify ourselves. You can't do it. Then this is the beautiful part. Verse twenty says, “So he returned home to his father and while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming and was filled with love and compassion. He ran to his son and he embraced him and kissed him.” Then you guys know the story, he throws him a party. See, when you're truly able to admit the depth of your sin and truly repent, the love of the Father, the love of the Son, the love of the Holy Spirit becomes so attractive. It's that old hymn. Turn your eyes upon Jesus and the things of this world grow strangely dim. 

You want to know how to beat your pornography addiction. It's not about your pornography addiction. It's about turning your heart to Christ and finding your worth in Christ. Jesus talks about it in Matthew 5. There's a season of radical amputation, and if your computer causes you to sin, Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin,” you know what? While you're in the process of getting your heart right, of realigning your worship and saying, "I know where I'm supposed to be, but my flesh is strong and I've got to starve my flesh and feed the spirit.” He says, there's a season of radical amputation. Jesus says, “If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.” I don't think he's being hypothetical. I don't mean the gospel ups the ante. 

The Gospel says it's not about the tithe anymore. The Gospel says the tithe is just to remind you that nothing you have is yours, that it's all God's and we're just stewards of it, and the best way to do that is to give the first ten percent to him. Jesus comes along and he says, “Give it all." Jesus comes along and he says, “Forget adultery, if you're lusting for another woman, gouge your eye out, cut off your hand.” I'm telling you guys, some of y’all, some of you men, and some of you women in the room, statistics show if you're finding yourself a slave to pornography, you better believe it's worth it to smash your freaking computer. Throw it out the window. But my job, my job. Who gives a rip about your job? Scripture again says, “Who cares if you gain the whole world, but forfeit your soul?” Jesus said that. 

So truly, Church, this morning, what is your heart’s desire? Don't tell me you want to be a godly husband if you're not willing to do what it takes to be a godly husband. See, we try to overcomplicate it and we try to, and again, I'm not, please don't ever ever hear that I'm underselling the importance of prayer, but the gospel is simply a choice. That's it. You want your life to be changed? Then choose to kill Shannon so Christ can live. 

Guys, I'm not some spiritual giant. I have to do that every morning. I literally have to do that every single morning, Church. Read my journals, man. I have to every single morning say, “Lord, help me love my wife.” Well, no, I don't want to make her eggs. I don't. I want to get out of bed when I get out of bed. I mean, let's be real for a minute, can we? She knows this. Yeah. I'm tired when I get home from work. No, I don't want to cook dinner. No, I don't want to hang out with the kids. I don't want to vacuum. I don't want to do any of that. I want to do what I want to do, but I know that life brings death and it's painful and it's excruciating and I hate it. I've been there. You've all been there. You know it. Y’all will go home and fight this afternoon about it. Seriously, let's be real. It brings death. That's miserable. That's not what life is supposed to be. You want the Gospel. Lay down your life, husband. Lay down your life. Wife, kids, coworker, boss, employee so that Christ can live. I wake up every morning, I say, “Lord, kill me so that you can live, Lord, help me to serve my wife so that you can live.” 

So here's the challenge. Here's the challenge. Today, go home. You guys know where you struggle. You know where you’re sinful, you know the things that you do. Get to the heart of it. That's what we've been doing.  “Lord, why do I do that?” Figure it out. And then you wake up in the morning and you say, “Lord, help me kill that heart's desire so that you can live. “

Where you need to repent, where you need to go, ask for forgiveness from the people you've wronged. Do it. You make the choice and you lay down your life. It's painful and you might not get the results you hoped for, but you will get love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Then you do it again the next day and you do it again the next day. I promise you, your life will change. I don’t promise you that you'll get money. I don't promise you that you'll get health. I don't promise you will get the job that you want, but I promise you'll walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control, and it'll change and in time. It'll change the folks around you. That's the Gospel. That's it.

We’ve got folks that would love to help you walk through that. If that's you, they’ll be over here. We'd love to pray with you. I'll be over here. I would love to pray with you folks. I would love to walk through a season with you, man. Some of you guys today just need to lay down your life for the first time ever because you haven't done that. I'm telling you, man, it is a game changer. The Gospel is true. His word is true. His spirit is real. His spirit is alive, and he came so that we might have life and have it abundantly. 

God. Thank you for that promise. Thank you for that truth. Thank you for that incredible gift of grace that you've given us. God, may we walk in that. In Jesus' name. Amen.