Tim Keller | May 3, 1998
Moral reformation is not the same thing as spiritual transformation. In moral reformation, one begins to outwardly comply, but the habits of the heart haven’t changed. In other words, moral reformation comes by looking at the rules and conforming, but spiritual transformation comes from looking at Jesus Christ. When we look at Christ, we can be regenerated — he can change our hearts and transform us spiritually.
Today’s sermon comes from a series on the character of Christ and how that character can produce deep changes in our hearts. Today we’re going to look at the joy that Jesus gives us. We learn three things in this passage about joy: the promise of it; the structure of it; and the growth of it.
Think about trying to be a better person versus truly changing from the inside out. Just trying to be better can often be about making ourselves look good or avoiding trouble. But when we really understand who Jesus is and what He’s done for us, we experience deep, real change in our hearts. This is what we call spiritual transformation.
1. The promise of it
Joy is a major part of being a Christian. It comes from knowing Jesus, and it’s more valuable than any material thing or place. Just like a woman can’t choose not to have pain when she’s giving birth, we can’t choose to not have joy as Christians. This is shown in Jesus’s first miracle at a wedding and when the church first started at Pentecost. Both Christians and those who aren’t should seek this joy in their lives.
2. The structure of it
The joy Christians experience isn’t tied to what’s happening around us. It comes from seeing the beauty in things, like a mother who is joyful about her new baby even though giving birth was painful. Even when we’re sad or in pain, we can still have joy because we know where it really comes from. We don’t ignore our pain, but we comfort others in their pain, knowing our joy is steady.
3. The growth of it
Jesus went through serious spiritual pain to give us joy and make us His treasure. When we rejoice in what Jesus did for us, we can experience joy, peace, patience, and other good things. But we can’t have this joy without repentance – admitting we’ve done wrong and accepting what Jesus did to save us. This brings us closer to Him.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
February Book Offer