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Christian Ethics: A New Way of Thinking About Morality

Often our religious traditions get in the way of our hearts connecting with Jesus. What is pure? What is true? How do we rediscover the real gospel in the midst of our religious traditions? It happens as we focus on our hearts changing before our behavior changes.

Read some closing thoughts from our Lead Pastor, Steve Mickel, here:


[Music] [Music] everybody want to welcome those that are watching online as well we haven't set a load of you yet and great to have you with us we're in a series called subversive Saviour if you have a Bible turn to Matthew chapter 15 now we'll get there in just a moment and this idea of subversiveness we are taking this definition for this series seeking to subvert an established system or institution and we're looking at the life of Jesus the teaching of Jesus that was subversive to the religious system of his day he was trying to break people out of this idea that that if I do certain things then guy will do certain things for me if I live a certain way then God will do do things for me and he was trying to break us out of of the religiousness that creeps in to Christianity and as we wrap it up today as we wrap up this series today I want to talk about Christian ethics I want you to think about this question have you noticed as I have that every generation seems to have less moral restrictions than the prior one okay now if you're over 50 as you already responded if you were you were like yeah Amen bro I mean it's about time you said something if you're but you if you're under 30 and you were the quiet ones just a moment ago you're thinking okay here it is religion trying to control our behavior again and so we come at this idea of moral ethics Christian ethics from widely different respects perspectives but here's a problem with y'all and be included is if you're in my generation or older and even though you weren't allowed to dance drink go to rate at our movies listen to secular music smoke or swear or add anything else to the list you did it anyway not only did you do it anyway you we built a culture around us in Christianity of pretence party on Friday as long as you look good on Sunday that's why we wore mullets I'm just saying that's the reason it was just a little bit of both and and so so listen that was a problem because we faked it you know and if you looked under the surface of many of our lives the morality that we said we had it doesn't quite match but let me speak to the younger generation because I'm gonna offend everybody today at least for a moment if you're under 30 you love Paul's teaching about all things are permissible I knew whatever I want as long as it doesn't hurt somebody else and I'm gonna define what that is and and but what I from my perspective you don't practice self control and so so Jesus comes along Jesus comes along in Matthew chapter 15 and he gives us a completely different and new way of thinking about morality about ethics about Christian ethics a new ideal right and and it will be subversive to every one of us and here it is it's a it's a I had I couldn't do this in a short memorable phrase so it's it's a paragraph two sentences but this I want to keep coming back to this so that you get this this is from my point of view as I've read that read the scripture this I believe is the ethic of Christ that how we treat one another matters more than our Christian moral codes and even though Jesus is more concerned about internal transformation than he is about external behavior both matter to him let me say it one more time so you get this I'm gonna keep coming back to this how we treat one another matters more than our Christian moral code and even though Jesus is way more concerned about our internal transformation than he has about external behavior both actually do matter to him in Matthew chapter 15 shows this let me pray you gotta help us and here's the prayer that I wanted to pray for us all that Jesus you would help us all to be offended today for our good and your glory amen all right let's go oh by the way Mike told me just before the service he says seeing what I was wearing he says Steve every time I would say Amen and them in your message I'm gonna say today go okay so so feel free feel free anytime you agree with the message you don't have to say Amen or you know one of those religious things girl that's all good it's that a little fun all right verse 1 chapter 15 then Pharisees and scribes who are the religious leaders of the day of the the time of Jesus these religious guys came to Jesus from Jerusalem which was a day hike they went a long way to come to Jesus to say this to him why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders for they do not wash their hands when they eat are you kidding me you traveled all day to confront Jesus about washing hands what's what's going on here I mean there was this there there was this tradition happening so that so what the religious people were doing is they would take just traditions good ideas but matter of fact most traditions even in in your context in my context even the list of things that we weren't allowed to do these traditions that we have are not necessarily bad ideas sometimes they're even really good for us I mean what Sheen hands listen you guys ain't totally paper wasn't all that common back then I'm just saying what should enhance was a really good idea but what the problem was is that they were making it a moral issue they weren't making it an issue about their relationship with God if you don't wash your hands as your disciples aren't doing how can they then be from God they're trying to trap Jesus they're trying to make Jesus look abnormal and unstable to try to discredit him and then in verse 3 Jesus he what I love what Jesus does every time somebody tries to point out a speck in someone else's eye God does in my life in your life if whenever you try to point out specks in other people's lives he goes right after the log jam in your life and that's what he does with these guys he says he ant he says why do you break speaking of breaking Commandments why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition he's saying you've put your traditions above the commandment of God and we've already learned we've already talked a lot this year about what is the commandment of God love God love each other right to love each other like you've already been loved by Jesus and he's saying you break the commandment of God to love one another for the sake of your traditions your moral code he's gonna eat and he's gonna he's gonna go right after this for God commanded honor your father and your mother by the way that's one of the Ten Commandments and Jesus often quoted from the Ten Commandments and he always goes further than what the commandment originally was at was given as he always says this is important to honor your father and mother but I'm gonna break this down for you because you say that you're supposed to honor your father and mother but you break this commandment because whoever Revels father and mother must surely die but you say verse five if anyone tells his father or mother his mother what would have gained from me what would have gained from me is given to God he need not honor his father what does that mean what what they were doing is that they were taking money excess that they had in their life and give it and and the religious rulers were saying give it to God the temple instead of honoring your father and mother by providing for their needs they were taking from what they should have been giving to their parents to give to the temple and they were teaching this as a moral issue and loopholes right so for the sake of your tradition you have made void the Word of God you hypocrites Jesus goes right after religious people I love this well did Isaiah well did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said this people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me in vain do they worship Me teaching as doctrines the commandments of men see they brought up washing hands Jesus goes after something much more important the log jam that's in their lives because he's subversive because he messes with our lives he like gets in there and starts tinkering around with stuff that isn't that isn't pure in us he starts messing with the things that aren't quite right in our lives and he brand in this case he brings up one of the ten commandments that they were breaking says it shouldn't be because how you treat one another including your parents matters more than your moral code come on see even though Jesus is more concerned about internal transformation than external behavior both actually do matter to him how we treat one another matters more than our sacred moral codes Jesus is asking us have you made have we made traditions of men doctrines of God you can't you can't receive the love of God and tell you get right with God until you meet certain criteria have we replaced the way of Jesus the way of love with a list of rules that you must meet and then Jesus turns to the crowd so you can I mean he's really strong with the religious leaders and he turns to the crowd and his tone changes if you read this in the original his tone changes it's like this all of a sudden he's he starts to tell us a story a parable and he and and and and to really understand it you're gonna have to dig a little bit it's not as clear as with the religious people you hypocrites he doesn't do that with the crowd with those who are seeking truth with those who are hungry for for what he has to say he kind of casts like a little like a little morsel to get a little hunger in them to search for more and that's what he does here in verse verse 10 he calls the people to him so the religious people are still there listening in but he but he's talking to the people the crowd and he says hear and understand it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person but what comes out of the mouth this defileth a person and then the disciples came and said to him do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this say and I just think Jesus is going like I don't care I wasn't talking to him I told them what I wanted them to hear but now I'm saying to the crowd to those who are searching for truth that what you put into your body doesn't matter as much that's what comes out of your body what is Jesus talking about verse 12 verse 13 he answers every plant that my heavenly father not planted will be routed up let them alone but these religious people alone they're blind guides and if the blind lead the blind both will fall into a bit oh there he's clear again verse fifteen but Peter said to him would you explain this parable to us I'm hungry for understanding I want to know what you're trying to get through to us and he said to them are you still all so still without understanding do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled and if you're a junior high pastor this is when you talk about how Jesus talked about poop and all the junior high boys are like this is great message I was like anyway I'm more mature than that so but what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart and this defiles a person for out of the heart out of them inner place out of the of who you really are out of that place come evil thoughts murder adultery sexual immorality theft false witness slander these are what defile a person but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone you know Judaism at the time had a major emphasis on what you ate and it was a very religious there's very very much moral issues about things you could eat and things that you could not eat and Jesus is bringing up not only washing hands he's like you know you have all these rules about what you're allowed to eat and and not eat and drink and not drink and and and you've made these things all these things moral issues and Jesus is trying to break the crowd from this kind of thinking to subvert um their view of even food and what it means right I think about Peter in Acts chapter 10 some of you might know the story where where Cornelius a Gentile is going to reach out to Peter for salvation in Christ and and before Cornelius comes to Peter God gives Peter a vision of all this food that comes down from this from heaven that all this unholy immoral food that he should not eat and God says eat and Peter in the vision like not a chance and God rebukes him and says what I have called clean don't you call unclean he's trying to break us from the moral codes that we like we just layer upon layer upon layer that keeps people away from the love of Jesus Christ he's trying to he's trying to get us to go deeper now listen listen there are things that we put into our bodies that could defile us pastor Bo you eat Twinkies way too much I'm just saying I'm just saying there are things that we put into our bodies then maybe we shouldn't I don't put anything green into my body unless it's a unless it's a watermelon candy I'm just saying I've got a problem but see Jesus is saying that's not the point it's not about what you put in its what comes out of you it's what comes out of your thought life and and in your heart life is what that's what really matters listen your rules I I'm not saying live rule this I mean I I have a moral compass like moral codes that I live by but they are never more important than the command of God to love one another as you've been loved they're never more important than that and we have to go below the surface and look to something deeper than what you eat or what you drink or whether you wash your hands or not reminds me of Winnie the Pooh my boys grew up on Winnie the Pooh telling them stories trying to he's trying to trap the Heffalump and he memory by using honey as bait not a good idea for Winnie the Pooh to use honey as babe because he can't bear to leave the whole jar of honey in the trap and so what does he do he begins to eat some himself and this is what he says he says I have to make sure it's really honey all the way down because it wouldn't do to have anything else perhaps cheese or something at the bottom and so of course by the time he's done checking there's no honey left I think Jesus wants to he's trying to put in us a hunger to look further deeper than just the moral codes that we have on the surface to what's underneath them all what's under the surface is and listen the world is looking at your life in my life Christ followers they they are looking to see if what is underneath matches what you say and what you believe at the surface level they're looking to see if there's honey all the way down so what's going on in your heart because how you treat one another matters more than your Christian moral code and even though Jesus is more concerned about internal transformation than he is about external behavior both do matter to him notice the list that he gave at the end of here of the end of the section he says for did I read this already okay thank you that series I don't know anyways for out of the heart comes what evil thoughts murder adultery sexual immorality theft false witness slander interesting that okay he brings up a list because external behavior does matter to Jesus but it's interesting this list to me as I read through it I realize that these are not they have nothing to do with what you put into your body the things that we would call unholy the things that you shouldn't do the things etc etc etc the moral codes that we lay and it all has to do with how we think about others how we treat others and how we talk to others because that matters more than our moral codes and I'm not saying our moral code doesn't matter I'm gonna I'm sure I'm gonna get emails but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get emails about this message I I believe that morality matters but we an American christening are in danger of making our moral codes more important than the love of Jesus Christ for a world that is broken so where do we go from here a couple of things a couple ideas here's the first one refused to make a doctrine out of your preference refused to make a doctrine out of your preference I remember distinctly this is like burned in my memory of in Croatia we were with we were with Susanna I were hosting pastor a couple lead pastor of a church in another European country I'm not gonna tell you which country because I want you to continue to respect this country and what they believe but we invited them they were in our home we took him to the Adriatic Sea where we lived right on the Adriatic Sea beautiful we took him to the beach and and we were getting prepared at the beach to jump into the water to suntan you know all the things and she starts to do something that was very common I guess for people from where she is from she started to take off her top lead pastors of another nation and I'm like you please don't do that please don't do that she got offended totally got offended and this is this is what she said you guys have such a problem with nudity but you let your kids watch Star Wars I [Laughter] didn't understand that was a apples and oranges I don't understand here you know uh and I was so confused and and that she would that she would think that it was okay for her to do that and yet not okay for my kids to watch Star Wars I mean I was like see we got lists in our heads you guys we have lists and lists and lists in our heads of what's okay or not okay and then you run into other really bible-believing good people who have their lists which contradict your lists and you're left going what's right right I mean if I took a poll right now and asked you if if taking off your top at a beach is wrong morally wrong I imagine most of you would raise your hand though now you're probably wondering and and whether Star Wars is evil I mean right I mean we're like we had listened that's the problem with making lists is because all of a sudden our lives we come about the lists the do's and the don'ts and what you're allowed to do what you're not allowed to do and we never even think about the stuff that actually comes out of us the evil thoughts the adulterous thoughts the murderous angry thoughts we don't even think about that stuff because we're so concerned about whether we can drink or smoke or swear or whatever whatever your list is I just I gotta tell you I don't think Jesus cares I just don't I don't think he we care man we got we got all kinds of high horses we got we get on we like you're right let me give you an example I love the bachelor and bachelorette shows Wow listen to this well no I'm not throwing anybody anybody under the bus on this one but I do I think they're morally reprehensible I mean I would go that far and I'm like serious they are wrong here's the problem here's the problem with my list is that I started to think that people who watched those shows were also morally reprehensible you know a God did stop it stop it it's not what you put into your body I know I know hey Paul says whatever is good whatever is noble whatever is worthy I think on those things I got I get I get that I know that but we like to make just the things that we put into our bodies moral issues instead of looking at what comes out of a person's life okay I've given you negative examples of other people let me give you one for me and this is gonna be hard for them of you it's gonna be hard for some of you when my my son chase died we found in the car as a car accident we found in the car a pipe we knew that he that he smoked cigars and whatnot occasionally in but we didn't know about the pipe and we found his pipe and so after he died I started smoking his pipe once a week or so and and I and I have continued to do that for the last two years and of course no he's gonna say anything when I preface it that way but some of you think that's morally reprehensible and maybe it is for you and I'm okay with that yeah I'm not trying I'm not I don't want to create some moral like lowest common denominator that everybody Hylas that everything is really permissible I mean it may not be for you and don't do it don't dishonor your relationship with God by breaking your moral codes because somebody else doesn't have a problem with something sees and doesn't start taking her shirt off at the beach I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I went there I just it matters more what comes out of you than what you put into you and I'm not saying what puts me what it doesn't matter what you put into yourself but I just just we gotta got to put that back right side up because we're missing it and and and and Jesus is getting a bad rep because we've got that mixed up because how you treat one another matters more than your Christian moral code and even though Jesus is more concerned about your internal transformation than he is about your external behavior both do matter to him some of you are asking so where do we draw the line where do we draw the line he's right here draw your line it's your line and it's only your line but draw it have a moral compass that you live by and live with it with integrity but but it starts right here Alyssa I'm not I'm still not sure if if or when or how to draw moral lines in our culture I'm still trying to figure that out but what I'm sure of without any shadow of a doubt that the line starts right here for me and self-examination is at the core I believe of the Christian ethic David prayed search me O God and know my heart test me and know my anxious thoughts point out anything not in the culture but in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life Socrates even said that the unexamined life is not worth living CS Lewis wrote those who do not think about their own sins make up for it by thinking incessantly about the sins of others let me finish there are people there are people in your life who live according to a different moral ethic and how you treat them matters more than their moral ethic how you treat them matters more than your moral code the way of Jesus will always subvert our traditions and our rules for his way of love always 100% of the time and God also wants us to be pure from the inside all the way to the outside for there to be a steady increase of Beauty in your life in art in my life in goodness and in mercy and a compassion and in gentleness in self-control in love and joy and peace he wants an increasing beauty in all of us he wants that all the way down to the bottom of the jar and all the way back up to what people see and that can only happen as we follow the way of love that Jesus gave to us Lord our lives are submitted to you there's no other way for us to navigate the complex waters of morality and ethics in the world that we live in without a closed and growing and vibrant relationship with you help us to hear you Jesus your spirit speaking to us about the lines that we should draw in our lives lord help us to see what you want for each of us individually and Lord as we continue to grow as a community help us to know what lines we should draw as a community of faith trying to embrace the world you've put us in with great love and compassion if your eyes closed I want to invite this might be the most important thing that we do today is to invite those of you who have not yet said yes to the way of Jesus said yes to to follow his teaching and to learn more about him to say yes to him and and if that's you and you're ready to give your life over to him to say I want your way not my way Jesus I want you and your love for my life and you're ready to do that today would you acknowledge that decision by simply raising your hand to God to me to just acknowledge that I'm asking Jesus man I'm I'm giving my life to him right now go ahead raise your hand if that's you and say yeah I'm making that decision today awesome thank you Lord a great decision anyone else life-changing moment life-changing moment thank you Jesus for your life and your love you are the one that we follow there is no other direct us as we continue to discuss how we live out your way in this world in your name amen go this is a rowdy crowd you guys are rowdy today I love it so those of you that did respond to the invitation to receive Jesus can we just celebrate with those that did make that decision today yeah so great we have we have begin packets they're a little pet white packets they begin on them that will help you on your first steps in your spiritual journey with Jesus and please all the exits especially here at the white tables that have the light on and see begin on them you can grab one of those packets it has some information that will help you get going on this journey as well as a way to reach out to us we would love to walk with you especially in these first few steps and so reach out to us so that we can we have mentors and people that are willing to walk alongside you and answer questions and help guide you and make sure you do that grab one of those begin packets also our prayer teams are available up here in the front as well as at the prayer wall if you have a need our family member or friend that you want just God to cover you in prayer would you make sure to see don't leave here without receiving prayer if you need prayer we have every week we hear of people that God's doing miraculous things in people's lives through the prayer team a couple of the things I want to mention GLS Global Leadership Summit just a reminder Mike already mentioned that registrations out in the atrium Tuesday the price goes up so this is a great this is the window of opportunity to get tickets for that I'm so excited I've started reading the books of those that are gonna be speaking and rich rich content that will help you in your leadership whether you're in school whether you own a business whether you're a stay-at-home mom or dad it will help you in life it's a great opportunity that we're hosting here we're the only host church I think on all the way up until Boise I think Boise is the next closest place other than the people in the valley cares about them and so unless you're from there and so we so so we have the privilege of hosting that so make sure you register today also our Westside welcome is happening those of you that are newish to our church we would love to connect with you a lot of our staffs going to be out in the lower atrium make sure you check that out last thing I want to mention next week we are going to have I'm going to be hosting a conversation with a guy named Bill manky bill is one of my therapists and friends and we're gonna be talking about mental health issues depression suicide and how the church can respond to what I believe is a crisis in our region and and and and have a conversation with with Bill and with all of you as well we're gonna have opportunity for you to text in questions and it's gonna be a highlight I think of our year and so I hope you can come back next week to to join us in that conversation and other than that other than that Croatia plays on Wednesday and so do not cheer for England we broke away from them a long time ago because because they were evil and so since I'm just a song that's all I get that's all I need to say god bless you guys have a great week we'll see you next weekend [Applause] [Music] with no point of reference you spoke to the dark and fleshed out

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