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When Jesus showed up in the temple to chase out the money-changers, did He sin in His anger? And was this a call to repentance, an act of redemption or a revelation of Messiah? This passage, in addition to addressing those questions, is an exhortation to take a look at our own "temples" and ask whether everything we're doing is glorifying to God.
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Lord, we love you and we're grateful for grace that makes up for all that is not right in our lives, for all the impurities that still dwell in us that are a source of confusion and, frankly, disdain to others and especially as they equate us with who you are. We thank you that that's why we don't come to worship any man. We don't follow any personality other than the person of Jesus Christ, that he was, as that little billboard says out front, "Come and see."
We want folks to come and see. It's not our church, but our Christ. Because he is our head and we are your body, we pray increasingly that your Spirit would be evidenced in the way this body loves and serves and operates and encourages and lives. So will you use this morning as a means through which you will push us further toward that which brings you glory? We thank you for your Word, which is just so encouraging and rich and true. Teach us now, amen.
Well, I was in the car yesterday with my son who is now playing school sports. He is in eighth grade. I don't know where he picked this up, undoubtedly from some friends. You know kind of how that goes. There has been a major comeback with Old Spice. I don't know if you're familiar with that. I think it's the commercials that are on those different little television shows and whatnot that are pretty fun and over the top.
Axe is another brand that is strongly represented right now in the junior high world. My son… I'm personally major perfume-adverse. There's nothing worse than going out to eat and tasting the smell of the person next to you in every bite. My son gets in the car with me and I just go, "Man! What are you doing?"
He goes, "What?" I go, "Man, you stink! You smell like you've been slow dancing with the Avon lady." He had no idea who the Avon lady was. I just go, "Dude, what in the world?" He goes, "This smells good!" I go, "No, it does not smell good. You smell like an 80-year-old guy who has been putting the same aftershave on in the club since he was 20 and can't smell it anymore." He goes, "I can't smell it."
I go, "Exactly! Because you're so familiar with the stench you don't even smell it anymore. It's just you. You are that smell." So anyway, that was the encouraging conversation we had as we got in the car together. So then he commented on my smells and all that's associated with me and we laughed together as men and went forward.
What I'll tell you is that there's an old adage, "The fox can't smell his own hole." That is certainly true of me. There are things that I do that are just things that I do. I don't even know that I do them anymore. Whenever we bring someone new on our leadership team or somebody new on our staff… Matt, who led worship today who is part of our staff now and we're blessed to have him along with Patrick and just leading us and facilitating all the worship opportunities and experiences we have here.
I told Matt. I said, "Matt, the next three to six months you're going to be more valuable to us than probably any other time because you're going to see things that we do now that we don't even know we do anymore. So speak up. Maybe we don't need to change it, maybe we do, but the point is at least ask, 'Why do you guys do it this way? Do you guys know you're in this pattern? Do you know that you guys… I'm sure everything you do you do intentionally, so this I see.'"
We may not even know we're doing it, but we just do it. One of the things I tell folks all the time is, "Look, some people think change is bad. I will just tell you that. A better way to say, a lot of folks think the reason you change is because things are bad." That's not necessarily the case. Sometimes you change because there's a better way to do great things that you've been doing.
There is repentant change. Repentant change is a change you need to make because it isn't right. You're wearing Old Spice. Repent. That isn't right. Buy you a bar of Irish Spring and let that work for you. No, there are certain things that there needs to be repentant change. It just isn't what God wants.
Then there are other kinds of changes, which are just good changes. You've been doing exactly what you should've been doing, but now because of life stage, circumstance, people, culture have changed? There's a better way to do the things that God says you ought to do. That doesn't mean you have to say, "The old folks just didn't do it right." That's not the case at all.
There's just a better way to do what the old folks used to do right. By the old folks, I mean us yesterday. That's kind of how we view tradition at Watermark, by the way. Tradition is not a good thing or a bad thing. We believe most traditions are things that have been done for a long time that were put in place because at one point it was the right way to do something.
If it's still the best way to do something, we're going to do it that way. If there's a better way to do it and the Bible gives us permission, then we'll radically pursue new ways to do it. There are certain things that aren't traditions. They are decrees. You don't want to jack with those. The real challenge of leadership is to take the never-changing message to an ever-changing people. You want to always be asking yourself, and I tell folks this all the time.
Look, we are not going to honor the past by sacrificing the future. In other words, just because we've done it this way in the past, we're not going to honor that by doing it that way forever. No, we're going to honor the past by saying, "These people got after it. These people were serious about the way that they wanted to be fully devoted and celebrate God and venerate him through worship and through music and through dress and through attire and through buildings, but let's not just do it the way they did it. Let's do what they did. What's the right way to do that today?"
Just so you know that's kind of the way we view things. Change isn't bad. It's not good. Change is just what you do if it's the right thing to do. There's repentant change that is always good. Then there is the wise application of biblical principles that will push you toward what is right today. It might be wrong tomorrow, but it's right today. Let's do it. Let's do it recklessly. Let's move forward.
I need folks to tell me how I smell. Because I don't even know how I smell anymore. Right? I know what my grandmother's house smells like. I know what a dentist's office smells like. You could blindfold me and walk me to those two spots. I go, "I know right where I am," but my grandmother didn't know that and folks who work in that dentist's office after a while, they don't think that the dentist's office smells like that. That's just the way it smells.
The fox can't smell his own hole. One of the things we're going to talk about today…this is a great message for the first of the year…is that all of us probably have some things that need repentant change. We all probably have some things that need repentant change. We're not even hard-hearted. We're just foxes in this hole for a long time, and we need others to help us.
Then maybe we do know. We know exactly what to do and we don't want to change anyway and then we need real friends to speak truth to us so that we can make that repentant change. That's a great day to be here. That's what we're going to focus on. We're going to tell you some tools that we put in place to help you do just that. Then we're going to look at a place in Scripture where Jesus was introducing two things: real change and then also some repentant change. You're going to find both right here in this text.
John, chapter 2. We are making our way through the book of John. Not exactly at a light-speed, warp-speed rate, but we're making sure we get everything we can out of the text. The good news is now we're into some major narrative sections and so we're going to grab larger chunks. So we'll make a little bit more progress than we have, but the goal isn't to progress through the Scriptures.
The goal is…what? To let Scripture progress through you. Right? A lot of you guys are trying to read the Bible this year. That's great. The goal isn't to get through the Bible. The goal is to get the Bible through you and have you and me be more in tune with what God's Word says. We are in John, chapter 2. Let's pick it up there in verse 13.
It says, "The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." Now the Passover Feast is a major feast in the life of a Jewish person. That's the reason that John, who is writing now to a broad audience of Jew and Gentile, said, "This is the feast you may not be familiar with, but the Passover Feast of the Jew."
In a nutshell, the Passover Feast to the Jew was a time that they celebrated the deliverance of the nation of Israel from oppression and judgment and death. God used a lamb. We've talked about this here several times. It's worth just noting quickly again that throughout the Scripture the Lamb of God is an extremely important term. You find the Lamb of God being relevant in the life of the patriarchs when God delivered a ram that would be slain instead of the blessed son.
Then we find it important in the Passover Feast when they were brought out of Egypt and they were in bondage. I think I drew up here for you on a door, right? You were to take this lamb in and build a personal relationship with it. It was an unblemished lamb. Then you were to slit his throat right there at the well of the door and take a hyssop bush, dip it in there, put it on the mantle and both posts.
As you did that, I showed you that made the sign of the cross right there on every door who by faith identified themselves in the Word and promises of God to shelter themselves under the blood of the lamb, and judgment and death passed over them. That led them to freedom, because people who did not shelter themselves in Egypt that night under the blood of the lamb, such chaos and turmoil came to their homes that they were no longer concerned with those folks and said, "Just get out of here." They plundered the Egyptians and off they went.
Then it was also very important in the time of the prophets where the Lamb of God would come and take away the sins of the world. This Messiah was going to be a lion and a lamb. This idea of the Lamb of God is very important throughout Scripture. We've seen that all throughout John. The Passover lamb, the Passover Feast is when they would get together every year and remember.
"God has done something great for us. We didn't deliver ourselves from bondage and slavery. God did it for us. Let's remember his grace. Let's remember the wonders of his love. Let's remember that we couldn't do it. We were stuck as slaves, and yet God set us free." Just like us. You cannot stop sinning on your own. That's why it's such a crazy idea, and many folks have it, that I have to make my life better before I come to God.
You can't make your life better! You're a slave to sin until you've been set free from sin. You need to be made new by a gracious Creator. In order to have that gracious Creator do that creative work, you need to be reconciled to him. How do you get reconciled with him? You go, "Something has to change." God is not looking for you to change so you're good enough to come to him. Acknowledge (I'm going to show you this today) there needs to be change and then look to him to be the one who brings about that change through grace.
They went to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the fact that God did something they couldn't do. It was a major feast in the life of the nation of Israel. In John it's especially important because he uses the Passover Feast as kind of a marker in the progression of Christ's ministry. Three different times you'll see John say, "This happened during the Passover Feast."
There's another feast that Jesus would go to Jerusalem many times, but specifically in the gospel of John, this is a marker. So you have it right here in John, chapter 2. You find it later in John, chapter 6. You find it later again in really 11, 12, and all the way through the end of the book, that last Passover where he goes there.
Now what we're about to see is this is the cleansing of the temple. Now what's interesting is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which are called the Synoptic Gospels, which I mention why they are. They take a synopsis of the life of Christ and tell that story. John is not a synoptic gospel. It is a… John is writing this book, as I've told you many times now, for a purpose. It's that you might see who Christ is and believe in him who God has sent that you might have life.
John is choosing different events and putting them in there for a purpose. There are only seven signs. There are seven major words. There are seven, "I am," statements. John is using the number of perfection to show you, "This is the guy." He is also using the Passover to show you kind of as he progressed through his ministry what was going on.
There's a lot of discussion, I'm not going to go long here, about whether or not Jesus cleansed the temple twice or whether he did it once, because Matthew, Mark, and Luke all have a temple cleansing at the third Passover that Jesus goes back to in the book of John right there when he makes his triumphal entry and then he makes his way into the temple and cleanses it.
Some folks, they debate about this because I guess that's what they do, think that John just took that story and inserted it right here. I don't think that's the case. I'm not alone, which should encourage you. It doesn't ultimately matter whether he cleansed it once or twice. It just matters that he is doing something. I do think he did it twice. Why? Because he was trying to reveal who he was.
The argument for why he wasn't doing it twice, if you're interested, is that if he did it once, they would never let him do it again. In other words, they'd make sure that guy didn't get back in here. In other words, if the president is coming through town and you shoot off an email, "I think I will take my AK-47 and hang out at the parade," you're not going to be invited to the parade the next time the president comes to town. Rightly.
They would say to you here that if Jesus did that, they would make sure they knew that guy didn't get back in. There are a couple of problems with that. Primarily it's that there were about three million people who would go to Jerusalem. They didn't exactly have metal detectors or FBI watch-this-guy-when-he-comes-in posters. So I think he could get back in. Secondly, with two years between the two Passovers, he had done so much that they probably couldn't keep him out if they wanted to because the people really thought, "This guy has it going on."
So why is it here? I think it's here because this is the way Jesus has his coming-out party. He is going to take some Old Testament prophecies, and he is going to basically claim them. He says, "You want to know who I think I am? I am the owner of this house. This is my house." See, if you came over to my house and you just go, "You know what? I don't like that wall color," and you just started painting it and said, "I don't really like the way you did your furniture," and you move stuff around…
I go, "What are you doing?" They go, "This is my house." "Well, no, it really isn't your house and that's why you're confused." You don't ever go to somebody else's house and redecorate. Jesus redecorated in a major way. He said, "This is my house." They asked him right away, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who are you that you think you have the right to come do this?" I'll show you what's ahead. This is great stuff. All right. So that this Passover the Jew it was near. Jesus goes up there.
"And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, 'Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a place of business.'"
Now let me just do a couple of other things here. It's kind of fun because when you see it, let me just make sure you didn't miss it. He grabbed a scourge of cords. It means he made a whip. He started driving the animals out of the temple. Then he started telling the money changers what he thought about them. He started to tell everybody that was going on, basically, "This is not what's going to go on here."
Now some people think what's going on is that he is making a judgment on the fact that he was offended by the business and by the exploitation of people who were there. I think that's there, but I also think there is a greater message. It's a both/and and not an either/or, as you will often find in the life of Christ.
I'm going to insert a lot of stuff at you today so that you can understand how we think and why we think, what's really going on here. In other words, I think it's too simplistic a view just to say that Jesus was offended by the marketing aspect of what was commonly called Annas' bazaar. Who is Annas? He was a high priest. The high priest was responsible for all the worship that would go on in the temple mount and the most holy places.
Annas was so corrupt and caused such a stir amongst the Jews and created such factions that basically he was run out, but he was still the godfather of the temple. He was still alive for a long time and basically just through a series of underlings, if you will. It was the temple mafia. They really did have a racket going on there.
Every Jewish male over 19 years of age was required to pay a temple tax every year that basically kind of kept the show going. It was about a half a shekel. A shekel is a day's wage. When you would come, you would come from all over the land, so you would have money from the land that you came from.
Much of that money was Roman money or money from other different governments around and they would often have images on that money. Those images were of Caesar, as an example. They believed that Caesar was God and they wanted to pay homage to Caesar. The Jews, rightly, just said, "Look, we're not going to use that money with graven images on it to pay the temple tax."
So as a service initially, they provided the fact that you could change your money from whatever region you were from to the type of coinage that was going to be acceptable. What happened is they did that at extremely exorbitant rates. They would turn what basically was going to be a half-day's wage into a full-day's wage. They were exploiting people.
They would do the same thing with the bulls and the lambs and the goats and the doves that people would bring. Because you had to bring your very best to this particular sacrifice. What they did is they had guys who were set up in there. As a service to folks who couldn't bring cattle and whatnot, they had some there.
Then they also had guys who would observe your animal to make sure it was holy enough. When they would get there, they would look at your animal and say, "No, that's an inferior animal." They would basically treat it like a used car and say, "I'll tell you what, though. It's not as terrible as that guy's. So I'll give you more for that animal toward this other good animal that we've already approved here at the priesthood that you can sacrifice that."
Basically what would happen as folks would come through is what was your inferior animal would become the next person's superior animal, and they would just basically turn this thing over. They would exploit people, and millions of dollars literally in today's money would be made both for the temple and then for Annas and his underlings. It was the temple mafia. There's no question that there was corruption there. It offended Christ.
That wasn't really the main thing I think that was going on when he does this. I think it's too simplistic a view. It's one that's not informed by an understanding of Scripture and Christ. Let me just say this again. He is offended by people who make money from religion and who go out of their way to exploit people through indulgences or through just marketing techniques just to kind of shill people so that you can build your own kingdom here on earth.
Because we're not to build our own kingdom here on earth. I just have to insert this. We just want to make sure. We go out of our way knowing that this is the primary way and the cursory way that most folks read the Scripture and it's an often-quoted text that, "Jesus drove the money changers out, and that's all churches want. They want money."
We're aware of that perception. So one of the reasons that for almost 11 years we have never one time passed an offering plate here… Not once. It's not because there's not an appropriate response to all that God is doing in our lives and through us together that we would give generously and graciously. It's not because we're embarrassed about the idea of worshipping through giving. In fact, it's tremendously important.
God says he wants us to do it with joy, and he doesn't want us to do it for him. He does it for us that we would store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. In fact, all the teaching in Scripture about giving, when you look at it the primary motivation for giving in Scripture is selfish, if you look at it carefully.
In other words, Jesus says, "This is better for you that you live this way. Don't store up for yourself here treasures on earth. Don't store up for yourself the idea that you live for this life only, because this life isn't the only life that matters. Give it to me and give it to eternal things and it will not be a bad investment."
Paul says, "Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account." When you see where God is at work, if you believe that God is there, if your heart is with him, you're going to want to invest with him. It says that he will not forget that. It's really an issue of faith. You believe that God is at work, you believe God is there, you believe that God is glorifying himself. Then why wouldn't you invest in that?
By the grace of God, many of you do every week. Some folks in here, maybe six or nine months ago, said, "I don't know how to give here." We don't ever do a good job of telling you, but it's in boxes left and right or you mail it to the church. By and large over the last 11 years, the things that we needed to keep this ministry going have happened.
Then the years that we have more than the general budget is, all that is rolled right back into the ministry and External Focus things and providing more resources for others to come and learn. So we're not embarrassed by giving, but we are very intentional to not have folks who are here maybe investigating who Christ is because… That's the reason we started our services the way that we do. You may not be here to sing because you may not be in love with the God who we know, but we're glad that you're here to come and see.
We're not going to ask you to sing and worship the God right now that you don't know is that God who is there. Likewise, we're not going to put something in front of you and make you feel guilty because you're not going to give to that which you don't know is worth giving to. Once you know who Jesus is, we want to sing.
Once you see God at work in your life here and God at work through our lives everywhere, you're going to want to invest here radically. Radically. I've never been so thrilled to give in my life but to this body. I continually am humbled at how God is using you to further his glory and to further my investment, as I have been to give here.
We're well aware of how folks view this thing. In fact, one time we had a David Crowder concert here. The promoter wanted to sell a lot of goods and stuff that was out there. We showed up. Whenever there is something here we always say, "We want to make sure we get a moment just addressing the folks because they associate what goes on here with Watermark." Rightly so.
I came walking in, and there was an ATM machine out there, which lots of folks are going to come to your church when there's a concert. That's great. I wanted to make sure that folks knew that wasn't our ATM machine. That's not always here. There are some churches around here, by the way, there's always an ATM. They might provide it as a service for their folks who want to give in cash. I don't know what their motives are. I'll let God sort that out with them. For us, we kind of go, "This doesn't feel right."
So I made sure to get up there and say, "Hey, welcome. We're glad that you're here. Just so you know that ATM machine? We didn't know it was coming, and it won't be here in a few hours when you all leave. So if it's a service to you because you want to pick up a CD with great music or a tee shirt to remind you of a great time tonight, you go get it, but that is not our ATM machine here, and let me tell you why."
We talked through that because we're always concerned about how we represent Christ. All that to say is that Jesus was undoubtedly upset at the exploitation of people, but there is more going on here than that and if you leave it at that, you're going to miss it.
Secondly, if you really think about what's happening here, depending on how Christ did this, you might go, "Man, I thought he never sinned, and it looks like when you grab a whip and start driving out cattle and maybe a few guys who are selling things the way they shouldn't with it, did he lose it here for a second?"
Let me just give you a quick two to three minutes on anger. Was Jesus angry? Yes. Did Jesus sin? No. How do you do that? Answer: Ephesians, chapter 4. Look at this with me real quick. Turn your Bibles to Ephesians 4. This, gang, is an area that I am always trying to take some ground on. That is to, as it says in Ephesians 4:26, I want to be an individual who walks the way that Christ wants.
It says, "BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN…" Let's start in verse 25. "Therefore, laying aside falsehood…" It's talking about because of all that Christ has done for you, "…laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another." We care for one another. This is going to come back later today. We are called to care for each other's temples. "BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity."
What it's talking about here, that word opportunity is the word topos. It's where we get topographical map from. It means a place. Don't give the Devil a place in your heart where he can put a foothold of bitterness, of lack of forgiveness, of frustration, because he'll work it. He is never satisfied with just a little bit of land.
Once he comes and he makes a little entrée into your life, he is never going to say, "Just give me this acre and I'll be happy." He is a tyrant, and he wants to grow. One of the areas that he works in our lives is through bitterness, disappointment, unmet expectations, and frustrations that give birth to anger.
Now look, we are to be angry. Watch. "BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN…" The word for anger in the Greek is orgizō. It's spelled similarly to ogre, but really it's orgizō. So one of the things that I do is… Every now and then I ask the Spirit to use this. Basically, you could almost say it this way in Ephesians 4:26, "Be orgizō. Don't be an ogre." That's kind of how I remember it.
What I mean by that is orgizō is a steadfast hatred of all that is not right. In other words, there ought to be in your life a river of love for good that makes you constantly aware of that which is not good. In other words, you cannot love good and not hate evil. It is impossible. You cannot love Texas A&M and not hate Texas. Obviously you can and you should. Don't take it too seriously.
Thinking now in the vernacular of our culture, they would tell you that, that you can't love the Cowboys and not hate the Redskins. Yes, you can and yes, you should, but you get my point. So here you go. What you can say is you cannot love good, you cannot love God, and not hate evil. Jesus had a constant, steadfast hatred. You must do both…love good and hate evil…or you can do neither.
Anyone can be angry. It is just easy to be angry the way that most of us think with angry, but to be angry at the right person to the right degree at the right time in the right way, that, folks, is not natural. My problem is that too many times, I'm that ogre. There's not just this steadfast hatred of sin. There is exactly what the Scripture says shouldn't be.
There is a sense of being controlled by this frustration, this bitterness, this sense of entitlement, this need for things to go my way that all of a sudden controls me. I am filled with anger or I am filled with lust, which means the idea of being filled in Scripture… This is very important. Ephesians 5:18. We are told, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…"
Heretics tell you to go and get refilled at church all the time. Folks who are bad teachers will have you look for experiences through ecstatic forms of worship and emotional moments where you're looking for a filling and you feel filled. That is not the idea. When you trust Christ, when Christ walks into your life, all the glory of Christ, the Spirit of God is there. Old things are gone. New things have come.
What has come now is that Christ is in you and you perceive him to be who he says he is: the way, the truth, and the life. You are to be filled with that Spirit all the time, which means be controlled by that Spirit all the time. Many times as I'm just navigating and shepherding my kids through this, where they go, "Dad, I can't."
I go, "Wait. What do you have to do with this? I thought you said that Christ was your King. I thought you said that you follow him, that you, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." So don't tell me how you feel. Feelings and emotions are not like poison to be avoided. That's not at all what they are. They are something to be controlled."
One of the things that is so funny is that people who are just never angry, they're always like this. That's not teaching a child the way that he should go. You don't teach children to box off, bottle up, suppress, and deny real emotions. That will make you a very unhealthy person. What you do is you teach children to control emotions.
You are not a slave to your flesh anymore because you now know your flesh is bent toward evil and that which is not good. You maintain a constant vigilance, a constant, steadfast hatred against the deeds of the flesh. You have a constant, abiding hatred of sin, but you do not get filled with anger where you spike.
You areorgizō, but do not be an ogre. I fail as a father when I do either. If I am indifferent to choices my kids make, if I'm indifferent to the battle for my kids' souls or my own soul? That's sin. If I spike because I see something that is not as God wants and I'm filled with frustration anger? That is not what the Scripture tells me to do. It tells me to make sure I'm filled with the Spirit. How would Christ respond in this moment? Let me show you one more thing. Galatians, chapter 5. Very quickly we'll move over there.
In Galatians 5, verse 19, it talks about what the deeds of the flesh are. I'm going to show you something here. "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy…" Watch this next one. "…outbursts of anger…" Do you see that?
Let me tell you what did not happen in John, chapter 2. This was not an outburst of anger. This was a… This is why I don't think when Jesus got there, he goes, "Well, I'll be. This isn't right and I'm tired of what isn't right! Give me the… Get out of here!" All right? This was a calculated revelation.
Jesus is revealing himself, and I'm not saying that it didn't look like he wasn't happy. I'm telling you, this was not an outburst of anger. How do I know that? Because he did not sin. He was never in the flesh. If he did, it didn't matter if he offered up a sacrifice for you and me because he wasn't an unblemished lamb, but he was an orgizō. This was a revelation.
You need to know this about Jesus, folks. He is gracious and kind, gentle and compassionate, "Come to me." If you have confused him with passive and indifferent toward your sin, you have not met the man. There is a constant, steadfast, abiding hatred for sin. Lucky for us, he comes in kindness as that Lamb first, and he wants you to understand that he will make provision for that sin, but you'd better acknowledge that is there. Clean your little temple through his provision and learn to hate it yourself.
By the way, this is one of the ways that I know I'm saved. Not that I don't sin anymore, because I do, in case you're curious. I used to hate sin when sin got me in trouble. I didn't even used to hate anger. I used anger. Anger was a weapon. It was a tool. I saw it used very effectively in my home, that if you're the biggest guy in the house with the loudest voice and the most muscles, you could be angry and pretty much got what you want.
I was raised to figure that's how you negotiated traffic. I was raised to know that's how you negotiate conflict interpersonally, and I was raised to know that's how you handle a wife and children. So I didn't used to hate anger. I used to hate it when anger made things so complicated for me that I was restricted in some way.
I didn't used to hate lust. I hated when it caused embarrassment, awkwardness, or difficult circumstances it had gotten me in, but I didn't hate it. Then I met Jesus. Now whether anybody ever knows there is enmity in my heart or lust in my heart or anger outwardly, I just hate it. It's evidence, folks, that I am saved. There is something new that is here.
See, I used to not hate evil unless evil hurt me. Now I hate evil because I know it's not good. So there is in me, whether you ever know I sin or not, I just go, "Lord, it's not right! I don't want that here. It's not what I want running through my veins." When I'm tempted, I don't get defeated that a lustful thought or a temptation to spike comes at me. I just hate that it's there.
I go, "No, no, no. I'm not going to listen to that. I'm not going to listen to the pulls of my flesh." I'm not going to deny it, but I'm going to meet it the way Christ says I should meet it. This was not an outburst of anger. This was a calculated unveiling. "I am here, and I am God. I don't like what's happening here." So what's happening here?
We've already talked about there was some corruption, but there's something else that's going on here. See, it wasn't God's plan that forever there would be business transacted in the temple. One day, business was going to be done because all the business that needed to be done had been done. See also: tetelestai. The business here is finished.
We no longer need these bulls and goats and doves that symbolize the fact that life is required of sin and rebels. "See, I'm the holy God and if you don't want to live with me, then that's fine. I can separate you from me, but because I am the God and author of life, he who is separated from me, death will come."
What God does is he puts in through his grace a means through which, until the perfect provision came, we could show our need for a cleansing. This was the blood of bulls and goats. This was a sacrificial system that God rightly put in place that he gave us the law and the law was to teach us of our need. Our need was to drive us to repentance. That repentance was expressed through innocent things that had done nothing being sacrificed for us.
We didn't have faith in the sacrifice. We had faith that the sacrifice was coming and that God would take our faith in his provision to make us right before him until the perfect provision came and the business was done. Zechariah 14. We're not going to turn there, but there is a messianic fulfillment that one day in the time of the Messiah's reign, there would no longer be any Canaanites. There would no longer be any emporium, is the literal word.
There would no longer be business that would need to be done in the temple because the business was done! So really what's going on here, folks, is that Jesus is saying, "Guess what's happening right here?" Malachi, chapter 3, another messianic anticipated prophecy. It just talks about how that he will come suddenly to his temple, and he'll take care of business there.
Certainly that involves driving out corruption and exploitation. What he is saying is, "Guess what? Get on out of here, money changers. No more tax, because I'm going to pay in full. Get on out of here, bulls. No more need for sacrifice, because the ultimate sacrifice is here." The glory had left this temple, by the way, according to Ezekiel, chapter 10, a long time ago.
What is the glory? The glory is the shekinah of God that was manifest in Exodus, chapter 3, in a burning bush where God revealed himself in a physical way. See, God is omnipresent. He is never in one place, but God's omnipresence is really met and reflected in the idea that God's eternal rule and his effective reign are present everywhere.
There's no place that is outside the authority and presence of God. God, for the benefit of his people in order to let them know that his presence was with him, gave him a symbol of who he was. God wasn't really in the bush, and God wasn't really in that pillar of cloud that led them by day in the wilderness or that pillar of fire that led them by night. He wasn't really on Mount Sinai, because he is everywhere.
He wasn't really seated above the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies because he is everywhere, but he gave them a physical manifestation. It was called the shekinahglory of God. That glory had left because of the people's indiscriminate relationship with God. They were going through dead acts, and they did not have a heart relationship with him.
When you don't live in relationship with God, then the relationship is gone so there is not going to be any manifestation of the presence, which was the shekinah glory. So in Ezekiel, chapter 10, there was a physical removal of that shekinah glory. Even though the temple had to be rebuilt in tremendous ways by Herod, the glory hadn't been there.
Guess what happens in John, chapter 2? The shekinah shows back up. This is great. John 1, verse 14. It says, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt…" Do you remember what I said when we studied that? What's the word I used instead of dwelt? Tabernacled. The Word became flesh and pitched his tent, tabernacled, "…among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Colossians 2:9:, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…" He was…what? Light that came into the darkness. Guess what is back, folks? The fire of God's presence. The shekinah glory has come back in. He is walking into the temple. Here he comes. "I'm going to restore it, as it should be." Guess what?
When the glory of the Lord fully shows up, because he is filled with grace and truth, he is saying, "There is no more need for religion. Religion is dead because relationship has come. Get rid of this religious worship, which now it's time for repentant change for two reasons. One, the repentant change is you don't exploit one another. You don't get rich off of me. Two, here is now not repentant change, but here is a better way now.
There's a new covenant coming that's going to be instituted by God himself. Just like the first covenant was given by God as a means of grace, the second covenant is going to be given by God. Now revelation is moving forward and you're seeing more of who I am. I am holy but I am kind and I am good. I am here. Let's get rid of the bulls and goats because the Lamb of God is here."
They said, "Who are you that you can tell us we're not going to worship like this anymore?" He said, "I am the owner of this house. My Daddy and I have run this place forever." They say to him, "How in the world? By what authority do you do these things?" He says, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
I can't prove it, but I don't think that what Jesus just said was, "Destroy this little building right here in this temple mount," but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he said, "Destroy this temple and three days later I will raise it up again." Let me insert this here. I have to move quickly.
Jesus is the temple at this point of God. The Spirit of God dwelt in him. He was there to show that glory to the nation of Israel. He said, "When you destroy it, I'm going to lift it back up." By the way, what is Christ's ultimate response to him saying, "You're not who you think you are?" Answer: "See you at the grave."
What is our ultimate response when people say, "You're crazy. You take this too seriously." At the end of the day after we share all the revelation we can, we go, "Look man, either the resurrection is true, or it is not." This is why Easter is a big deal. Because if Christ is not raised from the dead, then we are fools and we above all men are to be pitied.
Same thing is true of Christ. "You can say what you want. You can do your little tricks all around the nation of Israel, but if bro, when they kill you, you don't raise your life back up as evidence that death does not own you and neither do men who are trying to drive you to it, then you are just maybe a fine teacher, a good rabbi, but you took yourself a little too seriously. You are not who you said you were."
Jesus' ultimate response is, "See you at the grave. That's my authority. Destroy this. Because God is not in this. God is in me. This was to point you to me. I am the tabernacle. These bulls, these goats I just got rid of? Don't need them. Why? Because the perfect Lamb of God is here. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin. It's not impossible for me. Business is done. It is finished."
Do you see what he is doing here? This is quite the revelation. Now let me just shock this down this way. There is so much here. Do you guys see why I'm taking my time getting through John? One of the things you want to do when you read this book is you want to stop and say, "Okay Lord, what did he do?"
By the way, this is very important. Not only was his body the temple, but Jesus said a little bit later, "I'm going to start a new work through your rejection of me, which is all part of my plan so I can lay my life down and take it back up again. I will create a new temple. This new temple will be…" What?
It is called the church, of which he is the head because we are now…what? We are called the body of Christ. Where does the Spirit of God dwell today? Not in this physical structure. We are not building a church here, people. We are building a facility to train the church. Somebody says, "We've said that a number of times." And rightly do we do it, but I will tell you that this is the temple. The Spirit of God dwells in me and dwells in you if you know Christ.
So what you're going to find when you go look at the Old Testament temple is that there were all kinds of detailed instruments that were in there and all kinds of very specific order that God had given them about where things should go and what they should be used for. In other words, everything in the Old Testament temple was there to be used for worship.
Guess what this temple is for? Everything in this temple is there to be used for worship. There is no spiritual/secular divide anymore. It's all worship all the time. You have to ask yourself, "What in my life is about me? Because if so, I need to have some repentant change." There is a need for reform change when we go, "There's a better way to do what I've been doing as worship this year."
What we want to do is give you opportunities to ask yourself again and again, "Lord, what in my life is not being used 100 percent for the means of worship that you want it to be used for?" If there is immorality or impurity or greed in you, you can be sure he wants to drive it out. Because that's not consistent with the holiness of whom he is.
You can be sure of that. What he wants is for you to be an individual who just says, "Okay. All right. Everything in me. I'm your body. In you all the fullness of deity should dwell. In me the Spirit of God. I would be filled with it. It's there. I just have to make sure it controls me so I can live the way God wants me to live."
So what do we do? We call you to be in life with one another, because guess what? Sometimes you don't even know what is going on in your temple because you're just so used to it. But other people who love you… Remember Ephesians 4:25? Speak the truth to one another. Go ahead, bro. You have some Old Spice in there that we need to sweeten up. We need to take an axe to that because it's not consistent with Christ.
We have this thing called the 4B Form. It's a tool that we use. By the way, every year we re-up. Every single member of Watermark says, "I am all about my life being an instrument of worship for Jesus Christ. All I care about is being a worshipper. I'm so grateful that the business of my guilt and sin is finished, but I want to respond fully to his goodness."
We just let God walk through our life, and then we take this question. You go to campfire.org, everybody. You're not a member, no matter how long you've been, unless again in January you re-declare, "I am about this. This is where I'm going to be shepherded. This is where I'm going to invite other people in to run their fingers through the wool of my life. I'm going to run my fingers through the wool of their life, and I'm going ask myself, 'What is it, God, that I'm not doing all that you want me to do as a worshipper that I need to stop or start doing?'"
You guys get the drill. You just click on that thing. You ask at the very end. You just type in the names of your friends, and your responses go right to them. They can either validate your responses, encourage you that you're too hard on yourself, or challenge you a little bit that maybe you just didn't really… Maybe you don't know anymore the way things are. So now is the time to start taking a walk back through your life.
Here's what I want to tell you. When I read this, I know guys, it's so much easier for me to get in the car with somebody else and they go, "Let me tell you what you smell like." I know what I really want to do is when someone gets in the car is to go, "Hey, would you tell me what I smell like? What's my car smell like? I'm in this car every day. I guarantee my car has a smell."
Like my wife just bought me from Bed Bath & Beyond the best car freshener ever. It was not because she liked the smell. I think it was because she didn't like the smell that was in my car. I didn't know I had a car that smelled. Now I like it. It's new. I get in there and, "Oh, this is nice. Balsam. It's good. Come ride with me. It's nice." I need somebody to go, "Hey bro, let's talk about how your car smells."
I want to say this. I can look around at other places that are trying to follow God, and I go, "I'm not sure I do like that." I'm going to ask a favor of you this morning. Because myself and others, we're part of this body, but we're charged in a certain role here at Watermark. That is to lead. Inside your little Watermark News, there is something that says, "Christlikeness is critical." You'll see there's a little perforated section. I'll tell you what that is.
I'll tell you what I really need you guys to do. If you know and love Christ as you make your way to celebrate who he is by giving, I'd ask you to give us some feedback. I purposely didn't email out this way. I want visceral responses. If Christ was going to walk in here today and say, "This has got to stop; I'm driving this out," what would be the first thing that he would drive out?
Now, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. Maybe a lot of you go, "Easy. Building. Leather couches. Fireplace. Easy. Next." We've already responded to that one. You can put building down if you want. You've heard me talk about why we don't think that's something he would drive out. In fact, we think it's something he is excited about. How we do it and all that different stuff.
We've talked about how only 1 percent of every million dollars spent here was on nice things like leather couches and fireplaces and stone. We've had that conversation. There's a reason we've done all those things, but if you want to put building, put it. I'm going to blog about that this week at Words from Wags (wordsfromwags.com). I'll write you some more.
There's a great little book out there that some folks are writing how some churches with buildings shouldn't be doing this thing. I have a great deal I want to share with you about that this week so you can check that out, but put that if you want. What would you be critical of? What's the first thing you think if Christ was here this morning you go, "This is it." We'd love to hear that.
Also, if there's something that sticks out in your mind that, "He'd walk in here and, hey, double down on that. That's right." Put that on the Christlike side. Drop those things in the box on your way out or just lay them out here and we'll collect them. We'll really look at those things and prayerfully ask the Spirit to echo or reinforce what you have said and deal with it. Because I want to tell you, if there's something here that he wants to drive out, we are about driving it out. Speak the truth in love to one another.
Now here's the other piece. The bottom section is for you. Before you leave today in just a moment, even during this last little bit, I want you to write down, "What's the first thing that I know that God wants to drive out of my life?" Then I want you to give that card to somebody and say, "I don't even want to show you this because I don't want to lose this thing, but this is it, if you want to know. This is the thing that I know that he is not happy with."
Then maybe on the other side, write down what you're thankful for that God has, by his grace, developed in your life that you think is consistent with him, and let's go to work. We are his temple. Living stones, part of a living building. Everything in it is supposed to be for worship. I close with this.
Here's how you deal with your corrupt temple. If you're here this morning, I want to tell you about our gracious God who before he comes to consume and drive folks out, came to say, "I'm here to be the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world." Acknowledge he is the owner, Creator of everything. Acknowledge that there are things in your life which a holy and beautiful God would reject. Ask him to be the means through which your temple can be cleansed and the business of trying to appease him can be done because he has completely found satisfaction for you in the presence of a holy God.
Then respond fully to that gift of grace by being a living stone in his living temple, the church, and asking the questions that we're asking today. Worship him. If you have never acknowledged him as your Lord, if you have never acknowledged your guilt, if you have never asked him to be the means through which you could be cleansed, would you come this morning?
We'd love to pray with you. If you know that, would you not leave today without doing business with him? Would you, as a living stone, get off the rubble of independence and be built here with us into the beauty of what Christ intends for us? Will you come? Will you connect? Will you let others walk through your life as you see if you believe in Christ, belong to his body, are trained in truth, and be strong in life of ministry and worship? Let's worship.
Father, I thank you for my friends, the chance to be together this morning. I pray that this Scripture would not leave us easily. If there are things here that you want us to see, would you, through the grace and humble commitment of others, show us what you are critical of so we can repent? Father, if there are things that are Christlike that we should double down on, may we get after it? For your glory and our good I pray, amen.
You have a great week. We'll see you guys.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.