A Deep Incision

“This will be a non-invasive procedure.” That’s the kind of news we like to hear from a doctor—no incision, surgery, or internal scope.

Many people want to hear a non-invasive sermon when they go to church. They want a preacher to put salve on the outside when they have real problems on the inside.

Sin is not a superficial wound. Like cancer deep inside the body, sin eats away at the deepest parts of the soul. It cannot be treated lightly. It cannot be cured without major surgery. Jesus said getting sin out of your heart is like removing an eye or amputating a hand (Matt. 5:29-30).

Church buildings are full of people in denial. They think they are in the waiting room of the hospital when they need to be on the operating table. Other people in the building need surgery, but not them.

The gospel is an invasive message. It is a thoroughly intrusive procedure. It cuts deep down into every private thought of your soul. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). No wonder the gospel makes us feel uncomfortable at times! No wonder it hurts when our attitude is not right or when our priorities are out of line!

When people have sin in their heart and are too stubborn to admit it, the gospel will not just sting a little. It will cut them to the heart (Acts 7:54). This is why many prefer a non-invasive kind of preaching.

The doctrine of Christ covers every part of our lives. It tells us how to behave in our homes. It teaches us how to think about money. It shows us how to treat others. It instructs us on how to speak to and about each other. It regulates our entertainment and recreation. There is no area of our lives the gospel does not touch.

Like a serious operation that interrupts our routine, the gospel sometimes changes our plans. It may interfere with some of our goals. It may even demand that we give up some of our attachments. The rich young ruler trusted in riches and needed major surgery but he refused it (Mark 10:17-24). He wanted a more non-invasive religion.

Preaching that is worth anything will stir your heart and challenge you to do better. It will hurt because the truth often does hurt, and it may even make you mad. But if you feel like the gospel is crowding your life, just remember that God gives you your life.

The Bible does not come with the label “For external use only.”

Kerry Duke

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