Session 5: Gospel-Motivated Living
Matthew 15:1—Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus…why do you break the command of the Lord to keep your tradition? For God commanded to honor your father and mother…for you say you need not Honor your father in order to give to someone else (Pharisees adding to the law). Jesus says: You hypocrites! This people honors me with their lips but their hearts reveal the truth.
It is not what goes into a mouth that defiles it, but what comes out. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit. What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart—this can defile a person. Eating something only sends it out the other end…
Our tendency is to focus on the outward appearance, and we miss that what we produce is an indicator of the heart. The real problem is the heart, not the outward behavior.
Proverbs 4:23 keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it comes the spring of life. The source of what you do comes from the internal beliefs of the heart
We are all like a tree, the fruit is what we can see. It is important to see the fruit…but we forget that what happens on the outside is a result of the inside. We have to know that
What we do comes out of
Who we think God is
What he has done
Who we are in Christ
If there isn’t a new tree…there will be no new fruit.
We try so hard to get people to change their behavior…that isn’t the heart of Christianity. We need a new heart, a new faith, a new understanding of who God is. Repentance is a change of mind about God.
There is nothing wrong with inspecting fruit…but there is something wrong with trying to get people to change without showing the need of a changed heart.
Going from Fruit to Root
Fruit—anxiety. We know from Paul that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control. The spirit reminds us of the work of God. If we experience anxiety, then we are not focusing on the spirit. If we do not take time to talk through these things, we will hurt people when we approach this.
(Who we are in Christ) When you experience anxiety, what do you believe about yourself, about who you are in Christ—“I am in control.” Why do you experience anxiety? “Because I am not actually in control.” Trying to be God.
(What God has done) What does it tell you about your belief in God? “It means that He has stopped loving me, that He lost control.” “I believe that he has abandoned me.”
(Who God is) What do you believe about who God is? “Unloving, impotent, distant.”
But, I don’t believe that!!!—but I have been acting that way…so what do I really believe? That is the above. Confession isn’t always saying what you did…but it is saying what you believed wrongly about God. That is confession. Turning away from the false God we have been living by (the false conception of God), and renewing our view of God with the truth: repentance. Repentance isn’t directly behavior modification, it is directly a matter of returning to a true view of who God is—and from that renewed commitment and truth, fruit can grow.
Repentance is not ‘don’t worry be happy’ it is turning from worshiping a false conception of God to the true God.
What do you really believe of God? (Repentance)
He is loving. ‘don’t worry, God loves you’—not a sufficient Christian answer. How do we know that God loves us? Jesus Christ must be the answer. There is no true understanding of God but through Jesus Christ. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. At the cost of his own son—God loves us.
Faith—I believe that God loves me because I know and believe in Christ Jesus, I put my faith in him
Powerful—God is powerful. He rose from the dead on the third day. If there is ever a time when God looks out of control, it is when Jesus is in the grave….but he comes back. It was his plan all along. He is victorious over all of it.
God is Near—I believe he is with me. He will never leave us nor forsake us. The spirit of God is in us. The spirit is really with me, in me. New fruit in your life through the spirit.
What are you beginning to experience through repentance?
More than a conqueror, new life, dearly loved, peace, love, joy. Who you are in Christ. Not alone.
We may believe these things for years, but we have days when we forget who God is, we slip in and out of committed belief.
In order to really experience the abundant life and continual renewal and transformation, we have to face what we really believe about God. We have to daily repent of our false beliefs about God and we must recommit to the truth of who God is.
Maybe we should identify as a group to begin tracing the bad fruit that our false conceptions of God are.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
Where have we been more prone to emphasize behavior modification as opposed to faith transformation—trying to change the fruit and failing to get to the root of what we believe?
What do you think it will take to stop just looking at fruit and start moving towards the root of faith?
One of you in the group talk about something that has been an ongoing area of struggle in your life. Have the group walk you through asking the questions about what you believe who God is, what He’s done through Jesus for you, who you are in light of what He’s done, and how you can respond to this area of struggle in light of these truths.