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Building Your House on the Rock Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is the highest standard of ethical behavior

that has ever been put forth by anyone. Most ethical systems focus on outward actions and fairness, but Jesus goes deeper and focuses on our attitude and thoughts. Jesus taught that … … Hatred is the same as murder. … If a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. … We should not make oaths, but let our yes be yes and our no, no. … We should turn the other cheek. … We should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. … We should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing when giving, meaning that we should do it quietly and not to draw attention to ourselves. … We should remove the plank from our own eye before removing the speck from our brother’s eye. No other ethical system sets such a high standard. Everyone, even those who are not Christians, agree that Jesus was a sage moral teacher based on his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” No one is perfect and Jesus was saying that we need God’s Holy Spirit to transform our hearts. The only way we can change is from the inside-out, not from the outside-in. In the Old Testament, God promised that He would take away our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh, and He write His laws on our hearts. He does this by His Holy Spirit. True obedience requires listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit. This is why, as Jesus concludes his sermon in Matthew 7:21-23, He says that many who claim to be Christians and have done many things for God have not actually obeyed Him. Jesus is talking about people who choose what they want to do instead of obeying God—there is a big difference. Making sacrifices for God’s sake is not obeying God. We cannot pick and choose what words of Jesus we want to obey, we must simply obey whatever it is that God sets before us. The Holy Spirit will tell us one thing at a time—it may be easy or difficult. But our responsibility is to do this thing, not to do something else. Maybe the Holy Spirit will tell you to stay at home and study instead of going out with your friends. Or not go out clubbing with your friends. Or forgiving someone who has done something wrong to you. Or being diligent at work when no one is watching. The Holy Spirit will give you one thing to do at a time—your job is to do this thing and not something else. In the Old Testament, King Saul tried substitute what God said for something else. He even brought hundreds or thousands of bulls and rams to be sacrificed to God, but God sent the prophet Samuel to say, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” Sacrifice is no substitute for obedience. We don’t want to go to heaven and say, “Lord, I did this and this and this for you,” and have Him tell us that we never obeyed Him at all. Do you read the

Bible to listen for God’s command? When you came to church this morning, did you come to listen for what God wants you to do? James 1:7 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself. Do what it says.” If we hear the words of Jesus and say, “Yes, that is the truth. It is good. I agree with God,” but then we live a different way, we are deceiving ourselves. We are living a lie. Dwayne says that this is called cognitive dissonance. We shouldn’t be this type of Christian. It’s not good for anyone, especially ourselves. Don’t come to God just to fulfill a religious ritual. God’s serious about you … get serious with Him! What would happen if you made a real effort to obey God completely, in every aspect of your life? Are you willing to try? Have you considered it? Why not give it a try? Let’s take God at His word. He promises that we will experience life to the full, that He will send His Holy Spirit so that we live in power and love, and that we will receive 100 times more than whatever we have had to give up. God promises not to shortchange us. Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Many people who are not Christians look down on those who believe because we believe with our mouth and head, but not really with our whole heart. We don’t put the words of Jesus into practice. It’s true … Jesus does call us to a radically different way of living. His standard is indeed high, but it’s not impossible to live according to Jesus’ words. It starts with very simply obedience to what the Holy Spirit reveals to you, moment by moment. Step by step, the Holy Spirit will lead you to know what you should do. As you get out of the service, as you spend time with your family this evening, as you go to work or school tomorrow—ask the Holy Spirit living inside you, “What now, Lord?” And when He tells you something, just obey. Be like Nike and just do it. You see, you don’t need to dress in white robes and speak with “thees” and “thous” to obey Jesus, but simply do what He reveals to you. He won’t reveal everything at once, but just what you need to do one step at a time. Maybe you are sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend. You may intend to get married but you’re not now. Stop it! Maybe the Holy Spirit is telling you to set aside your full tithe, or to stop cheating your employer or the government. Make a decision to obey! We cannot substitute obedience for sacrifice, and we can’t simply agree but not do it. For our Christianity to work, we need to put it into practice. When we do things, it shouldn’t be because the pastor wants you to or your friends do, but just because God told you so and you’re doing what He said. Let’s say it together, “OK, God. I will obey. Show me that obedience is worth it.” In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus gives very important reason why obedience is worth it. He says that the rain will fall, the streams will rise, and the winds will blow. If we walk in obedience, we will be safe, standing on a firm foundation. But if we do not have the habit of obedience, then we will face disaster, complete ruin. There are two senses here. First, obedience to God is a safe way of living here on this earth. It is an investment that will pay increasing dividends. For example, if you are diligent and

trustworthy at work, then you will be able to advance in your career. You will gain a good reputation and doors will open for you. Or, if we read what the book of Proverbs says about adultery, then we will know that it is an extremely dangerous trap that can cause great pain and suffering for ourselves and others. As we obey what the Holy Spirit tells us, God will shape our character—who we are when no one else is looking—and I believe that your character determines your long-term success and happiness in life. However, there is an even more important sense to Jesus’ words here. Jesus said that those who obey His words are like a man who built his house on a solid rock. When we walk in obedience, we have confidence that both our lives and souls are safe with God, who is our rock and fortress. Psalm 62:1-2 “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” When we are walking in obedience, we can have confidence no matter what storms come into our life—even death itself. We know that God is our fortress and our refuge. But if we are not obeying Him, then we are in danger of disaster. Many people ask me if they can live as they like now and then repent and ask God for forgiveness just before they are about to die. I believe that God gladly accepts many people’s sincere repentance just before their deaths, but there are three reasons why it’s not a good idea to deliberately disobey God now: 1) This is a very dangerous strategy. We never know when it will be our time to leave this world and meet Jesus. 2) We can only live in the present, not in the past or future. Don’t worry about whether you obeyed God in the past or will obey in the future. Worry about right now. God gives each of us a choice right now in the present—will we obey Him or not? Don’t think that it doesn’t count. Your decision counts enormously. Jesus died to pay for your sin. Don’t deliberately and continually take that for granted. 3) It is good and right to obey God in everything. He deserves my obedience, and I was created to submit my will to His. If my emotions tell me otherwise, it is because I have a sinful nature that is in rebellion against God. But I also have my reason and will. My reason tells me that there is a God and that I must obey Him because it is right to do so. And my will can choose to obey my reason rather than my emotions. Don’t play games with God. Are you ready to take Him at His word today? Do you want to obey God but feel that you cannot? Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with us. He is our Paraclete, our Helper.