This is the third in a four-part series we are calling “Slaying the Dragon,” where we will explore God’s destination for us. All men have dragons standing in their way, preventing them from being closer with God. We are going to look at how to slay the dragon. To slay your dragon you have to have a sharp blade and a clear aim. Along our dragon slaying journey, we’ll talk about some dragon slayers. Finally, we’ll give you spiritual solutions to slaying your dragons and allowing you to get to your physical destinations, health destinations, professional destinations, personal destinations and emotional destinations. Sin is the dragon that we all have to slay.
Mark 9:43-47 says “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…”
Is Jesus literally saying to cut off your body parts? No.
What He is saying is to take dramatic action. Some of you are pussyfooting around with sin in your life. You’re assigning a threat level to it that is like green verses red. You aren’t saying it’s cancer to my journey. You aren’t acknowledging that this is the dragon I need to slay. You are shaking hands with sin and saying: You know what, this particular thing is not a big deal. If you are treating sin this way, what you are going to experience in your life is a living hell, literally.
That’s kind of the image Jesus gives us here. He is saying that if you know your weakness, and know that something is dragging on your life; that there are words, attitudes, actions and/or temptations that are going to pull you down, that will keep you from getting to your destination of Christ-likeness; then remember that you have to take dramatic, serious action. Don’t treat it lightly. Jesus is making a point. Don’t play nickel poker with sin. The goal with cancer is to eradicate every last cell. We take dramatic steps, people lose hair, they have things cut off. It’s a picture of what we need to do. We have to amputate the sin that is sucking life out of us.
I know there is visible sin that we all like to focus on. I think a lot of us beginning our journey with Christ kind of focus on those things. It’s like the seven nasty behaviors. Maybe it’s your mouth, maybe porn, maybe lust, or not doing certain things, maybe not getting drunk. We start on the outside, and then try to make our way in.
Here’s the deal, a lot of us stop. We get half of the external behaviors taken care of and then we present an image to the world around us. But there’s our inside, still not dealt with. We’ve whitewashed the tomb. The inside is a little tougher battle, isn’t it?
How do we think about our wife? How do we react when her flaws come up? Do we get angry over little things? How do we mask these triggers in our lives so that people don’t see?
It’s not about cleaning you up on the outside. In fact, Jesus — in Matthew 23 — talks about cleaning the cup on the inside, not the outside. Clean the inside of the cup first and then the outside, and then the cup will be clean. Jesus knew where our spiritual life is really lived. He knew that people could have a public image and a private darkness, so He would always go below the waterline and speak to the real issues.
When we talk about the destination and the dragon, we love to present the image that everything’s cool on the outside, meanwhile on the inside, we still have a dragon to slay. Jesus suggested a solution, and it’s a dramatic solution. He says take out a blade and cut the stinking head off the dragon we call sin.
Cut it off!
Here’s the thing about amputation. It’s a little different in the first century than it is in our time. There was no Dr. Feelgood: no Lidocaine, no antiseptic. At best, maybe you got some wine, but when Jesus says cut it off, He means this is going to hurt. Amputation, while painful, is thorough because cutting it off is the only way to survive. It’s what makes the pain worthwhile.
When it comes to this dragon that we call sin, it is anything in your life that does not show love for God and others on the outside. More importantly, it’s about what’s on the inside; in your heart, your thinking, your attitude, your integrity, there in your private life.
Jesus says the dragon is sin. The solution is to slay. Cut the head off from sin. We know our destination. We know the dragon.
Let’s look at Philippians 3:7-10. We’re going to look at a dragon slayer by the name of Paul. He shows us some of the perspectives and skills that we are going to need.
Listen to this dragon slayer talk.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish. I consider them rubbish that I may gain.”
Let’s stop right there. See what he’s after? He’s after the destination, to be like Christ. He says you know what? I want this more than I want that. I want Christ more than I want comfort.
In verse 8, you see the value assigned. Everything is secondary compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. Here’s a guy who has his priorities straight. Paul is a dragon slayer. If you have the right priority, you’ll have the right power. You know how I know the right priority? It is by knowing where your motivation, your energy and your investment is.
Is Christ your priority?
You notice that the words “loss” and “gain” are used. It’s almost like a financial ledger. I consider everything lost in order that I may gain Christ.
Verse 9 says: “…and may be found in Him not having a righteousness” — that’s character by the way — “not of my own that comes from the law but that which is in faith in Christ”.
Let’s finish verse 9 together: “The righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
That’s an important verse. If you have a Bible, you might want to underline “and be found in him.”
That’s where we get the target affirmed. The right priority produces the right power, and then the right perspective adds to that power.
What’s that perspective?
God wants to find me becoming like Christ, having more righteousness. Whenever you see the Bible talk about having a righteousness not of our own, but that which comes from faith in Christ, it’s character replacement. When He found me I was all wrong, but then He started making me right. When He found me, that’s when my character began to change, that’s when I began to experience the living Christ in me pushing Kenny out and putting Himself in. As I got to know Him, as Paul talks about in Philippians 3, soon I found myself reflecting on Him. That’s ultimately the goal, being found by Him, and being like my big brother Jesus. God wants me to more like my big brother.
Verse 10 says: “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings becoming like Him in His death.”
There’s the right person. The right priority, the right perspective is being found in Him, the right person. I want to know Christ, that’s the focus. The Greek word here means to know intimately. Do you know anybody intimately? Do you know their thoughts and they know your thoughts? Do you know how they feel about things and do they know how you feel about things?
It’s a partnership and cooperation. It’s an intimacy where a lot goes unspoken and unsaid just because you know them so well. You can’t do what Jesus would do unless you know Jesus. If you are talking and dialoging with Jesus, and reading the red letter life of Jesus and getting the perspective of Jesus from the word of God, then it becomes intuitive; a rhythm of relationship.
Paul again puts the priority of the destination up there. “I want to know Christ and the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.”
Here is where a lot of guys fall short. They want to know Jesus, but they don’t want to know his sufferings. When you have the right hope, your willingness to suffer goes up.
I know that you suffered some financial loss in courting your wife. When you started up a business, I know that in the hope of creating a successful enterprise, you sacrificed something to get there, maybe your own money and effort. That’s what we know, but leave in other zones of our life. If it’s not worth sacrificing for, it’s not worth going for. The value and energy reflect the hope and willingness. Right perspective, right priority, right person, and knowing that person gives you the power that takes you through the pain.
Jesus was very upfront. He said that knowing Him involves suffering. In fact, you may physically die, but you will definitely be transformed because knowing Him is going to cost you. That is why He said “if anyone comes after me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross and follow me.
Watch Slaying the Dragon Series where men’s expert and pastor Kenny Luck helps you to learn how God’s men are developing the character that slays the dragons in their lives.”
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Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church. His 20th book – SLEEPING GIANT: No Movement of God without Men of God – is the proven blueprint for men’s ministries, and was recently released through B&H Publishing. Watch and read more of Kenny’s teaching here at EveryManMinistries.com.