Jesus continues teaching on the mountain (Sermon of the Mount). He tells His purpose – to fulfill the law. He promises that all will be fulfilled. Then He cautions to not teach law breaking and to be more righteous than the Pharisees. The Law includes the first 5 books and the Prophets in the Old Testament. It includes the 10 Commandments found in Ex. 20.
Obedience to God is not about the rules, but transformation of the human heart. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were obedient to the law, but was not what Jesus wanted. They were considered righteous in the public eye. Righteousness is not what you do when in public, but how you are in private - on the inside.
What do you do when no one is around?Are you known as a religious person?
How do you act in secret?
Matthew 5:21-48 - Living to a Higher Standard
Jesus uses illustrations that refer to the law of the Old Testament.
The OT Law says, "Do not murder." - Ex. 20:13, but Jesus now raises a new standard by which we should live. The people probably thought they were behaving and living okay. After all they didn’t kill anyone. Jesus gives a higher standard for anger by teaching that if anyone is angry with his brother without cause, he will be subject to judgment like a murderer. – Matt. 5:21-22. “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” – 1 John 3:15. Concerning offerings – if we have openly sinned against someone, we must confess to God and then apologize to the person against whom we have sinned. Then we can offer our gifts to God. – Matt. 5:23-26.
We all murder, because we get angry with others. Take it to the Lord in prayer and pray for them and for your feeling toward them to change. To resolve anger ask God for help, confront the anger, examine why you are angry, and change your expectations. Go to that person or write them a note. Take some action and settle it quickly. “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” – Eph. 4:26.
Are you holding on to anger?Do you need to make peace with someone?
Pray for the person you are angry with. It's hard to hold a grudge when you are praying for someone. Anger does not lead to murder. Anger is murder. Anger and hate blinds, but forgiveness heals.
The OT Law says, "Do not commit adultery." - Ex. 20:14. Marriage is sacred and adultery is wrong. Jesus said, - "But I tell you that anyone looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Matt.5:28. When playing with it in your mind, cut it off. Stop and do what you have to do to flee from such thinking. It's OK to look and admire someone, but it's that constant stare in wanting them with our deep desires that is sinful. Sometimes we are indifferent to it until we are affected.
With whom other than your spouse do you have a desire for?What are your innermost thoughts and attitudes?
What unclean thoughts are polluting your mind?
The OT says, "Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce." - Deut. 24:1. Now days it is common to divorce instead of working out problems and letting God have a chance to heal the marriage. God instituted marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. Adultery is a sin. God does not approve of sin and He never commands divorce. Divorce is never desirable, but Jesus permits it only for marital unfaithfulness. – Matt 5:32. 1 Cor. 7:15 says if an unbeliever walks out of the marriage, let him go and don’t feel guilty. God said, "I hate divorce", but He never said "I hate divorced people." Anyone who has sinned in matters of divorce and remarriage, there is comfort. Jesus forgives this sin like all other sins.
Words are sacred to God so say and do what you say. Always speak the truth. To lie is a sin. There are some phrases that make us think the person is untruthful – “to be honest with you”, “I swear”, “I’m not lying” of if they say the same thing over and over trying to convince us what they are saying is true. Just say what you mean and mean what you say.
Do you have to guarantee what you say is truth?
Turn the other cheek
Turning the other cheek shows true humility and real love. Christians are not to take matters into their own hands, but surrender their rights. God is the one to take revenge. It belongs to Him. He also said we should not hold tight to your possession, but be generous.
Is there someone you need to forgive and pray for?
Love Your Enemies
We are to love our enemies and be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Lev. 19:18. Who is your neighbor? Your neighbor is every human being. The best way to love your enemy is to pray for them.
Jesus tells us to be perfect. What does it mean to be perfect?
Gal. 5:16 – we are to live by the SpiritEph. 4:22-24 – put off your old self and put on the new self
Phil. 2:12-13 – obey God
Phil. 4:8 – think about things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praise worthy.
Relationships would change if we obeyed Jesus’ words. It would be a much more peaceful world if we loved our enemies. Our relation with God would be better, because we are obeying His commands. When offended, we can look at it as an opportunity to witness.
What attributes of God and Jesus did you see in these passages? - Love, faithfulness, mercy, perfection, all-wise, goodness.
Principles:The Old Testament is the authority for LIFE - God's righteous standards will never change.
True righteousness is not just a matter of behavior, but a matter of the heart.
Christians are meant to be different inwardly and outwardly.
Does this chapter in Matthew speak to the Pharisee in you?
See you next week for Matthew 6.