Time becomes a thief when time causes us to take people for granted. Time weakens the greatest love if time causes the two people who love each other to take each other for granted. Time weakens the bonds of the greatest friendship if time causes the friends to take each other for granted.

We let time rob us as Christians and as the church. Time has convinced us that Christianity and the church is just a religious system. Time has convinced us to take the system for granted. Time convinced us that trusting the system is more important than trusting Christ.

Has time convinced you to oversimplify Christianity by substituting correctness for faith?

  1. Too many Christians think that being Christian, being a part of the church is just a matter of identifying the right system and plugging into it.
    1. Christianity is just a matter of obedience.
      1. God is God.
      2. I am not.
      3. You are not.
      4. Because He is God and we are not, we just obey.
    2. So all we have to do is find the right system and plug into it.
      1. You must find the right system.
      2. You must learn what you are supposed to do.
      3. Then just do it.
      4. A person is spiritually okay if he or she is obedient in the right system.
    3. Do you really think it is that simple?

  2. This morning I ask you to consider two examples.
    1. The first example is King David in Old Testament Israel.
      1. Old Testament Judaism was based on a specific set of laws and a specific religious system that came from God.
        1. Exodus 20:13--Commandment number six in the ten commandments: "You shall not murder."
        2. Exodus 20:14--Commandment number seven in the ten commandments: "You shall not commit adultery."
        3. Exodus 21:12--"He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death."
        4. Leviticus 20:10--If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
        5. Leviticus 24:17--If you take the life of any human being you shall surely be put to death.
        6. Is that clear? Is that simple to understand? Is that specific?
      2. 2 Samuel 11 and 12 records King David's greatest spiritual failure.
        1. David was an exceptional man of God who raised the concept of godliness to a whole new level.
        2. But David was tempted, and through that temptation David fell.
        3. His army was attacking the Ammonites at the city of Rabbah.
        4. Instead of leading his troops, David was at home in Jerusalem.
        5. One evening as he walked on the roof of his palace he looked down on a beautiful woman bathing at her own home.
        6. He found out who she was, sent for her, and seduced her.
        7. As a result, she conceived, and she informed David of her condition.
        8. Her husband was a soldier in David's army, so David sent for him.
          1. David hoped that Uriah would come home, spend the night with his wife, and conceal David's sin.
          2. Because of Uriah's personal code of honor, he refused to visit his wife.
        9. So David sent him back to the army with orders for Joab to kill him by putting Uriah in the fiercest part of the battle and withdrawing from him.
          1. Joab did as he was ordered to do.
          2. After Bathsheba mourned her husband's death, David married her.
        10. 2 Samuel 11:27 declares, "The thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord."
        11. Months later, after the child was born, Nathan the prophet came to David.
          1. He reported a case of gross injustice that infuriated David.
          2. Then Nathan told David that he was the guilty man.
          3. David simply said, "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:23).
          4. That was a simple, honest confession that carried the full expectation of death.
          5. Nathan said, "The Lord has taken away your sin; you shall not die" (2 Samuel 12:13).
      3. Think about that carefully.
        1. The law clearly said, "Do not murder. If you kill another person, you will be killed."
        2. It clearly said, "Do not commit adultery. If you do, both of you will be killed."
        3. David did both; the Lord saw it as evil; but his sin was taken away, and neither he nor Bathsheba were killed.
    2. The second example is that of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.
      1. The church in Jerusalem was a generous, caring congregation from the first day that it came into existence.
        1. New converts with property and possessions sold them to help new converts who were in need (Acts 2:45).
        2. Christians were of one heart and soul; instead of claiming private ownership, they shared (Acts 4:32).
        3. They were so generous that there was not one needy person in this congregation of thousands of adult members (Acts 4:34).
      2. But not every baptized person renounced greed.
        1. Ananias and Sapphira were a Christian husband and wife who owned some property (Acts 5:1-11).
        2. They sold it, but they did not want to give all the money to help Christians.
        3. Satan filled their hearts with a plan to lie: they would give some of the money and claim that they gave all of it.
        4. Peter confronted Ananias and made it quite plain that the problem was not in keeping part of the money, but in attempting to lie to the Holy Spirit.
        5. Three hours later he confronted Sapphira and learned that she was a full participant in the lie.
        6. When Peter confronted each of them, each literally died on the spot.
        7. Obviously, their sin was not removed.
    3. How are we to explain that? More importantly, how are we to understand that?
      1. One man commits adultery, successfully plots the death of the woman's husband, and marries the woman after her husband's death.
        1. All of that is in specific violation of commandments.
        2. And he is forgiven.
      2. A man and his wife lie.
        1. Their lie does not involve a commandment.
        2. The lie involved a matter of personal choice and voluntary commitment.
        3. And they died for lying.
      3. Is the lesson that God is unpredictable, so a person cannot know what will happen when he or she makes a mistake?
        1. No, that absolutely is not the lesson.
        2. The lesson powerfully emphasizes the importance of a person's heart, a person's motivations, and a person's heart relationship with God.

  3. What is this lesson about the heart and the heart's relationship with God?
    1. From the time that he was a teenager until the time that he died, David's heart belonged to God.
      1. You see God's ownership of David's heart in his confrontation with Goliath.
      2. You see God's ownership of David's heart in the Psalms.
      3. You see it in his exile, and you see it when he was king.
    2. But David was powerfully tempted.
      1. In a moment of temptation, David fell, and he fell hard to evil.
      2. When he fell, David did what many godly people do--he committed more and greater evil in his attempt to cover his first evil.
      3. David, the man of great character, acted like a man who had no character.
    3. Even though David did evil, there was no question that God owned his heart.
      1. When Nathan confronted David, David immediately said, "I'm guilty."
      2. No excuses, no blaming someone else, no evading responsibility--"I'm guilty."
    4. Ananias and Sapphira's hearts stand in distinct contrast.
      1. They created a deliberate plan to deceive.
      2. They did not fall to a moment of temptation; they devised and initiated a plan to deceive.
      3. It was more than a plan to deceive people; it was an attempt to deceive God.
      4. They did not have godly hearts that fell to temptation; they had calculating hearts dedicated to deceit.

The questions are not, "Am I in the right system?" "Am I obeying the right commandments?" "Am I doing the right things?"

The questions are, "When I obey God, where is my heart and what are my motives?" "When I do the right thing, where is my heart and what are my motives?" "When I worship, where is my heart and what are my motives?" "When I make a mistake, where is my heart and what are my motives?" "When I fall to evil, where is my heart and what are my motives?"

In your life, where is your heart and what are your motives? As God looks at your heart, what does He see?

How often do you pray, "God give me the right heart. Make it like Jesus'"? "Lord, give me the right motives." "With the right heart and right motives, help me accomplish your purposes."

Becoming a Christian means getting a new heart, rebuilt by God. Be rebuilt from within to be used by God.

Have you been reborn through baptism?
Let God rebuild your heart.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 28 June 1998

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