September 14, 2015

14 Sep September 14, 2015

Healing the Heart, or Treating the Symptoms

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. Matthew 12:33-35 (NASB)

There are numerous addiction/recovery websites, support groups and 12-step groups available today. Their appeal is huge as they offer help and support with the very thing with which we are struggling. Who wouldn’t want that? Help right where I need it.

But let’s think it through in light of Matthew 12:33-35 quoted above.  Here Jesus teaches us that good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit. He tells us that the Pharisees were unable to speak anything good because they were “evil”; that is, they had evil hearts. Their bad speaking came from bad hearts.

So let me give a scenario for you to consider. What if someone wanted to start some sort of an outreach ministry and decided to offer a course on helping people get free of “bad speaking” or “gossip”.  They would give them 12-steps to do, or offer them various biblical principles to learn how to repent of bad speaking and learn good speaking instead. Do you think it would be successful or not? Well, it depends on how you would define success.  I have no doubt that some would “get free”, have vibrant testimonies, and would be living examples of the effectiveness of the particular course they took.

And yet, what did that ministry really do for the participants? In essence, it made them Pharisees. It cleaned up their speaking, teaching them techniques and principles, but did not change their hearts. It may seem like they now had a new found freedom, they may tell others of the “glorious change” that happened to them: “once I spoke only evil things, but now I’m S.E.W. (Speaking Evil Words) free!”

But if you examined their lives over time what you would find is a “falling back into sin”, where they are just unable to truly be free of their evil behavior. Why is this? It is because the method used addressed the symptoms (evil speaking or gossip) instead of the heart (“make the tree good”).

This generation has seen a plethora of addiction/recovery groups and “ministries” addressing addictive behavior. It seems that they are a dime a dozen. The world has their support groups and the church has its addiction/recovery or “freedom” groups.

You know what the real answer to these sin problems is? It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hearing and understanding and believing the gospel produces genuine freedom in the heart and life of the believer, as well as a continual and ongoing transformation of their lives into Christ-likeness. Why is this? It is because the gospel addresses and heals the heart.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” Romans 1:16-17 (NASB)

Hearing the gospel produces faith, and by faith we live the Christian life. Hearing the gospel changes the heart, heals it of its sin-sickness, cures it of its selfishness, and sets it free from bondage to idols so it can worship the living God. The gospel “makes the tree good”, and what did Jesus say happens when you make the tree good? It produces good fruit. This is the power of the gospel.

At Gospel Growth Ministries you will hear and see the gospel of Jesus Christ, over and over and over. And if you believe it, no matter where you have come from (non-believer, baby Christian, mature Christian) you will find your chains of bondage dropping away, and your heart made free to worship God in spirit and in truth. You’ve not merely learned steps or principles, you’ve experienced the love of One Who gave up His life for you, and this has the effect of changing you dramatically. Look what it did for Paul:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NASB)

Are you tired of trying to uphold the Law, or trying to live according to a long list of do’s and don’ts?  Are you now ready to experience the One Who “loved you and gave Himself for you?” If so, you may find yourself dead to sin and alive to God. That’s the power of the gospel!

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