Last night we continued our exploration of Jesus’ teaching recorded in chapters 5 through 7 of Matthew’s account of the Gospel (better known as “The Sermon on the Mount). Incidentally, I wasn’t able to post the notes for the last couple Monday nights, so if you want to download them, you can use these links:
Below are the notes for last night, for Matthew 5:21-30:
1: The truth about Anger: It’s from the same kind of evil as murder.
Anger is the root of Murder, therefore, it deserves the same penalty.
…whether it lives in the heart (where murder comes from, 15:19)
…or comes out of the mouth (even in the form of common insults)
To get a sense of what it must have been like to hear Jesus say these things, imagine a hearing a news report about a situation where someone curses at someone else on the street, and the cops come running up, cuff the guy who did the insulting, throw him in the car, and take him to the court house. In court he’s tried for exhibiting anger in his heart which shows how little he values his fellow man. That’s what this probably sounded like to Jesus’ first hearers.
Because this is the case, followers of Christ must oppose this kind of anger, not only in ourselves, but in our relationships with others as well.
Two examples to illustrate how this principle works:
- (5:23-24) If you’ve traveled to Jerusalem to worship, and as you’re in the middle of the sacrifice, remember a broken relationship, stop worshipping, and go fix the situation. Care about anger in others as much as you care about it in yourself. It’s as important as worship. (see 5:9 blessed are the “peacemakers”)
- (5:25-26) If you happen to be involved in a dispute with him, do your best to resolve it before someone else has to resolve it for you.
The Point: You can’t truly worship God and be ok with anger in your heart or in the hearts of those you have relationships with. This means that true disciples, followers of Christ, aren’t OK with angry hearts in themselves or others. They take it seriously, like they take murder.
2: The Truth about Lust: It’s from the same kind of evil as adultery.
Looking at someone for the purpose of stirring up desire is the same species of sin as actually sleeping with someone’s spouse. Even if it is never acted on. Not simply sexual attraction per se, but intentionally stirring up that attraction to passion directed at individuals (real or made-up), especially using the eyes to do it.
Because this is true, a follower of Jesus will take dramatic and decisive action to eliminate sin in their life. They will treat it with “life or death” intensity. They won’t make excuses. They will make decisions that factor in eternity.
Jesus is confronting humanity’s messed up perspective. People tend to think both of these things are not a big deal. We humans let anger and hate live in our hearts, and we say all kinds of bad things about other people, and go through our days like that’s fine. We let lust live in our hearts—in fact, we have an entire section of the world economy devoted specifically to helping everyone think about sex with people they’re not married to. We pepper little bits of visual lust inducers into all of our entertainment.
Jesus is stressing how out of sync with him and his teachings all this is. The normal way of looking at things is twisted. We think it’s all ok because we compare ourselves with each other. But remember 5:20 and 5:48… he’s bringing in a greater kind of righteousness, a greater kind of humanity. The standard for the kingdom of is Jesus himself—the perfect man.
Only he sets humanity’s vision straight. We need to repent. Otherwise we have nothing to do with his kingdom—we’re not in it now, and we won’t stand a chance to be in it when it comes all the way.
- Jesus calls humanity to “repent” because his kingdom is coming. In his kingdom there won’t be any killing and there’s not going to be any ripping each other off sexually—and there’s also not going to be anyone even hating each other in their hearts, or looking around wishing they could do those things. Therefore, if we want to be part of his kingdom, we’ll turn away from these ways of anger and sensuality now, voluntarily. If we’re true disciples of Christ we will stop murdering and sinning sexually, and we’ll also treat the attitudes of our hearts that lead to those sins with equal seriousness. True disciples take all sin very seriously.
- Do we take these things in our hearts this seriously? Do we take anger this seriously? Do we take sinful desires in our hearts this seriously? Have we demonstrated it by taking action in our lives to change? For instance, have we taken action to control our mouths and our eyes and our hands?
- For the Christian, God provides all the power we need to have real change happen in our hearts. The God gives us his, Holy Spirit which is God himself, who comes and lives inside us, with our spirits, and gives us the power to do his will. He really changes us. Our part is to believe him when he speaks and ask him for his help.