Matthew part 17

This is the sermon for Sunday, January 8th, 2012.

Unless noted, all Scripture from the ESV.

Matthew part 17

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 8

God’s will concerning revenge and love.

Matthew 5:38-48 – 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Introduction

Jesus, being the great Rabbi has been showing those listening to the Sermon on the Mount the high demands of the Law and their total inability to keep it.  We must remember in our interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, this is a Jewish Rabbi (Jesus) teaching Jewish people.  Rabbi’s taught concerning the Law of God.  And Jesus is doing the same within this sermon.

Jesus now is going to be dealing with a couple more issues found within the Law: One concerning revenge and the other concerning how to treat your enemies.  Jesus demand for Law-keeping here is far above an acknowledgment of the written code of the Law; but the spirit of the Law itself – which demands perfection.  Let’s begin unpacking our text.

God’s will concerning revenge and retaliation.

Now before we begin looking into this text, in our culture there is an expression that “revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Well, let’s see what Jesus has to say about this.

Let’s first look at verses 38-39.

Matthew 5:38-39 – 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Jesus begins with the Law of retaliation.

He is quoting from the Old Testament here, where three times it is mentioned in the Law of Moses this law of retaliation (Exodus  24:24; Leviticus 24:20; and Deuteronomy 19:21).

And in this law we see that God did allow for equal retaliation and revenge, but it wasn’t for the purpose that the Jews has made it out as; they thought it allowed complete vengeance.  But his law was actually given in order to prevent so many acts of vengeance.

Why can I say that?  Because the retaliation was of equal value, and most people who want revenge are not just satisfied with the equality, but they want to go much further.  And in this case the Law wouldn’t allow it.

Notice also that Jesus is admitting that sometimes people who are evil will wrong us: Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…”

This slap in the time of Christ was considered very insulting, so it injured more than just the face, but the person’s reputation.

But Jesus says to turn to the evil person your other cheek also.

Next Jesus goes to three more things that could be considered worthy of retaliation: Being sued, being forced to do something, and being begged to give.

Matthew 5:40-42 – 40And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Let’s look at these three things.

Sued – First off, the first century Jew did not have an overabundance of clothes like we do today.  They had a tunic – which was the undergarment – and a cloak – which was the outer garment.  At night, they would take off the tunic and put the cloak back on to sleep in, and then often clean the tunic for the next day.  It was a prized possession to the Jew.  And here Jesus said that if you are being sued for your tunic – undergarment; let him have your cloak – outer garment as well.  The idea here is that you are that is doesn’t matter whether you are sued rightly for doing something wrong, or wrongfully, you are the innocent party, we must give to the one who sues, i.e. our enemies.

Be forced to go the extra mile – Here Jesus is likely referring to the Roman soldiers, who would often stop and make the common Jew carry some type of load for them for one mile (an example would be Simon helping Jesus carry His cross).  Here Jesus says to go an extra mile – go above and beyond what you are being forced to do.

Giving to the one who begs – In the Law God had a way to help the poor Jew – and that was to lend money to them.  Now the idea was for them to pay you back; let’s look at that law.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 – 7“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin. 10You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Tying this all together – many would see the poor and question if they could return the money lent to them.  They may go ahead and lend, but if later they couldn’t return, then they would sue them, and even take away their precious undergarment if they couldn’t pay.

This was revenge going much further than what the Law intended.

How do we apply this to us?

Revenge is not something that the Christian should pursue.  Why?  Because the sin that was sinned against you, Jesus died for.

Also, we give to those in need when we are able, not expecting anything in return because Jesus gave His life for us, knowing that it would be impossible for us to pay it back.

Concerning loving your enemy.

Matthew 5:43-47 – 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Love your neighbor and hating your enemy.

Here we see a classic “reading extra into the text” example.

Jesus is quoting from Leviticus 19:18 which is talking about loving your neighbor.  But the Rabbis of Jesus day added to the thought of the text, “if you should love your neighbor, then it is expected that you should hate your enemy because they are not considered your neighbor.”

And Jesus is correcting that interpretation of the Law of Moses.

He says: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Why?  “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Though we may hate our enemies, God’s loving hand is upon them.  What is the evidence of this? “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Our love for our enemies shows the unconverted world that we are truly sons of the kingdom of God.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same.”

Concerning the Law – absolute moral perfection.

Matthew 5:48 – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Let’s look at the Greek word for perfect.

It’s the Greek word τελειος (tel’-i-os) – it means, “1) brought to its end, finished 2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness 3) perfect 4) that which is perfect 4a) consummate human integrity and virtue 4b) of men 4b1) full grown, adult, of full age, mature.

But here within our text its meaning is absolute moral perfection when it comes to keeping the Law.

What God is saying is that His moral standard for righteousness is not or own feeble attempts at perfection – but Himself.

Folk’s we don’t even come close.  So what is our hope?  Well let me quote from Romans 7 as we conclude.

Conclusion

Romans 7:14-25 – 14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

This absolute moral perfection Jesus lived and it is through Him that we are delivered from it.  Though we love the Law and what it teaches us, through Christ it has been fulfilled, and now the life we live, is lived through Him, not or own ability to live it out.

 

 

Matthew part 16

This is the sermon for Sunday, January 1st 2012.  Starting the New Year off right; preaching God’s Word.

Unless noted all Scripture is from the ESV.

Matthew part 16

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 7

Lust, Divorce, and Oaths

Matthew 5:27-37 – 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No'; anything more than this comes from evil.

Introduction

Jesus, being the great Rabbi has been showing those listening to the Sermon on the Mount the high demands of the Law and their total inability to keep it.  We must remember in our interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, this is a Jewish Rabbi (Jesus) teaching Jewish people.  Rabbi’s taught concerning the Law of God.  And Jesus is doing the same within this sermon.

Here in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus now will look at three more commandments from the Old Testament Scriptures and the proper understanding concerning these.  These commandments deal with adultery, divorce, and the taking of oaths.  The Jews thought that because they kept the letter of the Law, that they were perfectly obedient to it.  Jesus is going to show them that this is not true at all by going right to the spirit of the Law.

We must be careful with our attitudes considering our obedience to God’s Word.  If you compare your obedience to other Christian’s lack of obedience, or believe that because of our obedience we earn or deserve favors with God, then we are not being truly righteous, but self-righteous.

Let’s begin unpacking our text this morning.

Lust.

Matthew 5:27-28 – – 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Here Jesus is quoting from the Ten Commandments.

He is quoting from Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18.  The Law forbids sexual contact with anyone other than your spouse.  The Jews of Jesus day was only concerned about the external act itself, but not the internal. Jesus on the other hand was concerned with both the external and they internal.  You see, He knew that the external originated from the internal.

Notice what Jesus said in another place in Matthew’s Gospel.

Matthew 12:34b – For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

And another place in Matthew.

Matthew 23:25-28 – 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Lustful intent.

Jesus said in our text, everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

He is telling the Jews that the intent of the heart is just as wicked as the actual deed itself.

Cutting the lust off.

Matthew 5:29-30 – 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus is not endorsing mutilation for the purpose of avoiding lust.  He is using hyperbolic language to show just how serious lust is.

Let’s apply this text.

We live in a culture that is saturated with sex.  After all, we have an expression, “sex sells.”  Whenever we look at a member of the opposite sex other than our spouse with lustful thoughts, it doesn’t matter if it is in person, on a billboard, magazine, TV, or internet; we have already sinned against God by committing adultery in our heart.  And if we’d be honest this morning, each and every one of us has committed this sin.  We are hopeless in ourselves.  But thanks be to God, our hope is not in our selves, but our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He has died and shed His blood for the forgiveness of both lust and the physical act of adultery.  So trust in Jesus for your forgiveness this morning and rejoice in Him.

Divorce.

Matthew 5:31-32 –  31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Jesus is referring to Deuteronomy 24.

The Rabbi’s of Jesus time had a very loose, liberal interpretation of this law.   They said that a man could divorce his wife if she lost her looks, burned the food, and other things like that.  But Deuteronomy itself says that the male could only divorce his wife if “he has found some indecency in her.” (Deuteronomy 24:1)

The certificate of divorce was actually given to the woman as a means of protection, so she could start over in a sense.  Jesus reveals the truth that the indecent act referred too in the Law is sexual immorality.

Divorce has always been a problem.

It was a problem with these first century Jews, it’s a problem in the non-Christian world, and it is a problem in the church today.  There are many who have been divorced, either for the biblical grounds of sexual immorality or other non-biblical grounds.

But I do have good news for you today – forgiveness for both sexual immorality and divorce is offered to us through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.  If He has forgiven you, then walk in that forgiveness, no longer bearing any guilt from your past. And do your best not to sin this sin any more.  If you haven’t confessed that sin to Him: don’t justify it, but acknowledge it to Him this morning, asking Him to forgive you and then trusting that He has.

Oaths.

Matthew 5:33-37 – 33“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No'; anything more than this comes from evil.

Why oaths are important.

In Jesus day many people took oaths or vows, promising to do something or not do something.  But the Pharisees and the religious leaders of that day had their ways of twisting things so as to get out of those oaths and supposedly make them no longer binding.  They were actually lessoning the power of the oath.

But Jesus talks about the importance and power of the oath.

Notice He says not to take an oath by heaven, the earth or even Jerusalem, or your own head.  Why?  Because all these things are created and kept by God, man has no power over them.  We don’t have control and power over our own head.  We cannot change our hair color by a pure act of our will alone, therefore we have no power to determine the validity of our oaths and vows.

Why no oaths?

How many of you have confessed a sin to God or maybe to someone else and swore never to do it again, only to repeat the sin?  Why?  We are people who still struggle with our fallen nature and we still live in a fallen world.  Instead, we should just confess, “Yes we did sin” and trust in God for His forgiveness through Jesus Christ and trust that the other person will be forgiving to us also.  We must also ask the Lord for the strength and grace given by His Spirit not to commit that sin again.

Only God has the power to validate oaths.

Conclusion

These three issues we’ve discussed this morning are sins that many have dealt with.  These are sins that Christ has died for – so His forgiveness is available.  If He has already forgiven you; lay the guilt behind and rejoice in Him.  If you have realized this morning your need for forgiveness – confess the sin to the Lord and trust in His forgiveness.  He promises to give it too you – Christ died for you.

Matthew part 15

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This is the message for Sunday, December 18th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture from the ESV.

Matthew part 15

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 6.

Murder by anger.

Matthew 5:21-26 – 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

 

Introduction

Jesus, being the great Rabbi has been explaining to those listening to the Sermon on the Mount the high demands of the Law and their total inability to keep it.  We must remember in our interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, this is a Jewish Rabbi (Jesus) teaching Jewish people.  Rabbi’s taught concerning the Law of God.  And Jesus is doing the same within this sermon.

Many times people will look at Matthew 5-7 as something to shoot for in order to find favor with God and obtain righteousness.  And while these are things that we should be doing, we will not do them perfectly, nor do them well; only Jesus has done these things mentioned in these three chapters perfectly.  We must look and trust in Him and His righteousness when it comes to the fulfillment of what He spoke of in these chapters.

Jesus now begins looking into the commandment concerning murder.  In the rest of Chapter 5 He is going to be dealing with six things that the Jews have heard from the other Jewish Rabbi’s:  Anger, Lust, Divorce, Oaths, Retaliation, and their Enemies.  Now they will hear from the great Rabbi concerning these issues.

Let’s begin unpacking this text in this light this morning.

The proper interpretation of the Law.

Matthew 5:21 – You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.

Jesus now begins a series of contrasts.

He is contrasting what the Pharisees and other Rabbis taught concerning the Law, to what He teaches concerning the Law.

He is not adding to what the Law was originally intended to mean as some teach, but actually getting back to the original intent of the Law and its meaning.

You see, some were using the Law, not as the method to point to their sins, but as a method of justifying their sins.

Here the example will be anger.  They would say something like: “It’s alright for me to be angry and hold a grudge against such and such person because they wronged me; it’s okay because I didn’t kill them.”  But for the rest of their lives, there would be bitterness and hatred for one individual against another.

Many people have a wrong way of looking and interpreting the Law in our day as well.  They may think that the purpose of the Law is some moral code that if obeyed is pleasing to God and therefore you receive His favor and a blessed, prosperous life.

The reality is that the Law has a two-fold purpose.

(1) It shows us what a good work really is.

(2) It shows us our inability to keep it properly thereby needing a substitute that can keep it perfectly and a sacrifice that will forgive us of our imperfect attempts to keep it.

So the Law, in reality points to Jesus Christ:  He is our perfect substitute and our perfect sacrifice.

Anger and insults equal murder.

Matthew 5:22 – But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

Jesus interpretation of the murder commandment.

According to Jesus, judgment for murder doesn’t begin with the physical act; but the condition of the individual’s heart toward another.

Jesus says, “Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

You fool in Greek literally means, “empty or dumb head.”  In our day this would be equal to calling someone a “moron, stupid, dummy, etc…”

I can see the Jews eyes getting big as Jesus was teaching this truth.

Let’s apply it to our time.

When we are angry with someone, particularly someone who is a Christian, it is easy to begin to insult that person behind their back, and ultimately start degrading them to the point that you believe that they are empty-headed people.

We need to be careful in our anger.  It is easy to justify our anger and our reaction of anger, but in reality, when we react in anger wrongfully we are breaking God’s Law and thereby sinning.

Our reconciliation with fellow believers is more important than our gifts to God.

Matthew 5:23-24 – 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

I like the way the ESV Study Bible puts it: “Reconciliation with the person who has something against you must take precedence even over offering one’s gift in worship.”

It really doesn’t matter if you are in the right or the other party, you and I as fellow Christians must try to live at peace with other Christians if at all possible.

If it isn’t possible, then we should pray for them and pray for our own hearts.

There is a principle that Paul uses in his epistles that we should consider in our reconciliation with other believers.

1 Corinthians 6:7 – To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

In other words, even if we may be right in our assessments of the situation, it is better to humble ourselves and apologize than to stand our ground as being right in our relationships with other fellow believers.

Anger and unforgiveness imprisons you.

Matthew 5:25-26 – 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

During Jesus time they had basically a “debtor’s prison.”  When you owed someone money, if you couldn’t pay it, you were enslaved in prison until such a time as it could be paid.

Think of anger, bitterness and unforgiveness as a debtor’s prison.

It doesn’t just bind the person that you have issues with, but actually it enslaves you in your bitterness and refusal to forgive.  So we must do our part to forgive other believers, especially in light of what Christ has done for us.

Conclusion

Let’s conclude with some practical, gospel truths this morning.

  • All of us have broken the commandment concerning murder with our anger toward other believers in Jesus.
  • But grace and forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ.
  • As He forgives and reconciles us with God, may we forgive and be reconciled with fellow Christians.

Matthew part 14

This is the sermon for Sunday, December 4th, 2011.

Unless noted all Scripture from the ESV.

Matthew part 14

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 5

The Law: not abolished, but fulfilled.

Matthew 5:17-20 – 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Introduction

We are looking right now at Matthew Chapters 5-7; which is typically called, “The sermon on the mount.”  But in reality let’s remember that the audience listening to Jesus’ teaching is the first century Jews.  So that is why I’m calling Chapter 5 of our study in Matthew, “The great Rabbi’s sermon.”  He is teaching Jews who think that they are keeping the Law; but He’s going showing them through this sermon that they really haven’t.

Jesus will be accused at least six times of not keeping the Law in the Gospel narratives.  As we shall see, Jesus didn’t have issues with the Law; but with the Jewish leadership’s interpretation of it.  He says some powerful statements within our text this morning concerning the Law.  Let’s begin to unpack it.

Jesus Christ came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.

Matthew 5:17-18 – 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Let’s look at this statement.

Contrary to what the Pharisees said, Jesus had a love for the Law.  He loved it because it pointed to His coming.

Let’s do some word study.

Abolish is the Greek word, καταλυο (kat-al-oo’-o).  It means, “to dissolve, disunite; to destroy, demolish; to overthrow i.e. render vain, deprive of success, bring to naught; to subvert, overthrow.”

The Pharisees had the people under their thumbs, using the Law as a bully whip to whip the common folk into shape.

Jesus came along to show how the Law and the Prophets pointed to Him, thereby angering the Pharisees.  So they accused Him of trying to overthrow the Law.

The MacArthur Study Bible states, “Jesus was neither giving a new law or modifying the old, but rather explaining the true significance of the moral content of Moses’ law and the rest of the Old Testament.”

Jesus explains He came to fulfill the Law.

Fulfill is the Greek word πλεροο (play-ro’-o).  It means, “to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally.”

Just like Jesus came and fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament; He also fulfilled the Law in all it said and represented.  He fulfilled the moral law by keeping it perfectly.  He fulfilled the ceremonial portion of the law by fulfilling what all the symbols represented.  He fulfilled the judicial aspect of the law by being the one who represented God’s perfect justice.

Not one aspect of the Law will cease until it’s all fulfilled.

The smallest stroke of a pen will not fade away, nor is meaningless; but it points to Christ and His finished work for our Salvation on the cross.

Jesus was the substance of what the Law revealed; the problem was the Jews were only interested in the shadow of the Law.

Colossians 2:16-17 – 16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Many people within our churches also look at the shadow; this is called legalism.  They want to focus on what people should and shouldn’t do, instead of focusing on what has already been accomplished for us by Jesus.

The Law was never meant to be watered down in order for people to keep it; but taught to its complete fullness.

Matthew 5:19 – Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The Pharisees made the Law impossible to keep for the common Jew; on the other hand they eased the burden on themselves.

This is why Jesus says what He says in verse 20.  They would relax the burden on the Law on themselves, in my opinion because the Pharisees knew they couldn’t keep it.

It doesn’t matter if it is the big commandment of “do not murder,” or a much smaller commandment; God’s commands are not meant to be relaxed or watered down, but to point to our need of a Savior.

Unfortunately, many do this within our churches today.  They will relax the Law when it comes to themselves, but make huge demands on others.

The fact is, none of us can keep the Law perfectly, we need a Savior who has done that job in our place – and that is what we have in Jesus Christ.

If you try to live by the Law in order to please God, then you must live it with a perfect righteousness.

Matthew 5:20 – For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Here is where legalism breaks apart.

In order for it to work, you must obey absolutely perfectly.   In Jesus’ time that meant that your self righteousness had to exceed the self righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.  To the common Jew, this put them in a hopeless position.

This puts all those who try to keep the Law to please God in a hopeless position as well.

Our righteousness must not only exceed the common persons, but it must exceed all of our “holy, great” teachers of our day.  It must be a perfect righteousness, and all of us fall way short of that.

But thanks be to God, Jesus came.

He not only taught the law perfectly and lived it perfectly, but He became the perfect sacrifice in our place so that His righteousness becomes our own.

In other words, God is pleased with us, not based on our self righteous works, but based on the perfect righteous work of Jesus Christ that has been placed in our account.

Conclusion

Jesus did not come to annul the Law, but to fulfill it.  He has fulfilled every aspect of the Law.  As Christians, we approach our Holy God and Father through the perfect work and person of Jesus Christ.  And when we do, He accepts us and is pleased with us.

 

Matthew part 13

This is the sermon for Sunday, November 27th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture is from the ESV.

Matthew part 13

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 4

Salt and light.

Matthew 5:13-16 – 13“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Introduction

We are continuing in the portion of Matthew that is called, “The Sermon on the Mount.”  This is Matthew chapter 5 through chapter 7.  We are calling our study in Chapter 5 of Matthew, “the great Rabbi’s sermon.”  For Jesus is teaching this as a Jewish Rabbi would teach the people.  He is revealing that the Jews are unable to keep the Law and also that true right standing (righteousness) with God is found in the King and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus has just finished the portion of the sermon known as the beatitudes.  Now let’s look at what He has to say about being salt and light.

Salt.

Matthew 5:13 – You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

Jesus declares that those who listen to His teaching in this sermon are the salt of the earth.

Salt, in the times of Jesus Christ was used as a preservative, a flavor enhancer, and even in some cases fertilizer.  These Jews who are listening to Jesus in this sermon think that they are good keepers of the Law of God.  But He is about to expose them.

He is  first using the example of salt.  When Salt is used properly and at its greatest strength, it preserves, protects, and enhances.

Well those who endeavor to obey the Law should do so for the purpose of preserving, enhancing and protecting.  But in order do those things properly, it must be done with absolute perfection; which we know that this is impossible for anyone other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth to do.  So in the same way that you throw out salt when it loses it taste, those who cannot keep the Law perfectly will be thrown out.

Now this sounds like bad news doesn’t it?

Well, to the Christian it is not bad news.  For we know that our righteousness is not found in our perfect obedience to the Law, but it is found in Christ’s perfect obedience too it and in the fact that His perfect righteousness has been imputed to us. You see, in Christ Jesus, Law-keeping to perfection has been fulfilled.  And those of us who because of our sin are salt-less, have been made salty through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Light.

Matthew 5:14-15 – 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

The Jewish listeners to Jesus are called the light of the world.

The Jews believed they were truly lights of the Law to a world of Gentile Lawlessness.  After all, they had received the Law, the revelation, and the prophets of the Old Covenant.  But the fact of the matter, they were not the light, because the true light was the Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth.

Notice what the Prophet Isaiah wrote.

Isaiah 42: 6-7 – 6“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

Something happened to the Jews – they turned from God and His ways, and broke His Law.  Instead of being a light to the Gentiles, they hid their light by covering it with their sin, as one would hide the light of a lamp by placing a basket over it.

As Christians, we are to be a light in the world –  a light that reflects the true light of the world, Jesus Christ.  We reflect His light by our good works before those who are not followers of Christ.

1 Peter 2:12 – Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

But how is this possible for us?   For we too will not only sin privately, but sometimes publicly in front of non-believers; thereby covering up the light we shine with our sin and failures.  Well, the good news is this light we are to shine is not some moral code of conduct.  This light we shine is none other that Jesus Christ Himself.  Therefore the works we do are done because of Him and through Him.

Notice what Jesus says about Himself.

John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus reveals to us what is the work of God we all are supposed to do.

John 6:28-29 – 28Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Christ working through us is a powerful testimony.

Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The only way this is properly done is to allow Christ to shine through us.

The fact that while we were yet sinners, He loved us and made us alive in Him should compel us to live a life of obedience and love toward Him.  When this is true it is His light, not our own that we are shining by our good works.

Conclusion

What are the benefits of good works?  Well not for the purpose of making us holier and more like Jesus; but for the benefit of those who are without the light of Jesus Christ.  It is my prayer that you and I shine the light of Jesus Christ in our works to our families, friends, enemies, and places of business and places we frequent.  All of them need to know Jesus is the Savior and will forgive their sins.  Let’s be light-bearers – shining the light of His glory.

 

 

 

Concerning hymns

I listened to a very good lecture by Albert Mohler on Martin Luther and his influence on hymns this morning.

I’ve never really been much of a hymn lover. Honestly I just don’t like the music behind many of the hymns, just not my cup of tea really.  But the last few years I have really been appreciating hymns, not because my musical taste is changing (I will always be a rocker at heart);but the words of many of them, and Doctor Mohler really hit the nail on the head concerning the importance of hymns in his lecture.

He talked about one the usages that Martin Luther used with hymns was the fact that he wanted them to be a tool to teach – not just the Gospel, but sound biblical theology.  And that is what I appreciate so much about some of the hymns – many of them are rich in theology.

It’s sad that we live in a day that people just don’t want to be taught in church about God – they just want to experience Him.  Not only in their songs, but also in the sermons that they listen too.  So many times the Jesus that is often sung and preached about is the “bearded girl-friend” variety.  So what we have is people filling churches for some emotional “intimacy” and not really worshiping the Father in Spirit and in truth.

But just reading through the words of some of the old hymns, really exposes us to the Gospel and pure sound doctrine.  There is a phrase that I often repeat when  I confess my sin to God (being the modern “chief of all sinners” I sin often and greatly).  After my confession I often say this line from a hymn, “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”  Simple words that doesn’t need any improvement on my part – but oh how powerful those words are.

I’m not knocking the newer choruses, actually I happen to like the style of many of them.  But I’ve decided a few months ago to become very selective in the songs that I lead in the church I Pastor.  I have cut out the “Jesus is my bearded girl-friend” type of songs.  I try to find songs that are either Gospel-saturated and rich in theological depth.  One modern worship singer has many great songs that are filled with both – Chris Tomlin.  We do sing quite a bit of his songs in our church.

I’ve also incorporated a few of the older hymns back into our worship set.  Some I’ve tried the “update the music” thing.  For some songs it does work, for others, I think updating gets in the way, so I’ve gone back to playing and singing the way it was originally intended on a few of them.  It’s a growing process, learning by trial and error.

I guess what I’m trying to say is the older I get, the more I appreciate the great hymns of the church.  Let’s bring back the teaching of God’s great truths, not just in the sermons, but in the songs as well.

Matthew part 12

This is the sermon for Sunday, November 20th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture from the ESV.

Matthew part 12

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 3

Persecution and happiness.

Introduction

We are continuing in the portion of Matthew that is called, “The Sermon on the Mount.”  This is Matthew chapter 5 through chapter 7.  We are calling this portion of the sermon found in chapter 5 of Matthew, “the great Rabbi’s sermon.”  For Jesus is teaching this as a Jewish Rabbi would teach the people.

As a reminder to help us in our interpretation of these passages, we have seen that the total theme of this sermon is that Jesus is teaching the people as a Jewish Rabbi; he is revealing that the Jews are unable to keep the Law and also that true right standing (righteousness) with God is found in the King and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now last time we saw that Divinely given happiness begins with humbling ourselves before God and man.  This is seen in seeking after God and His righteousness and being merciful to fellow sinners.

Let’s finish up the beatitude portion of this sermon by looking into verses 10-12 in our text.

Divinely given happiness is found in the midst of persecution.

Matthew 5:10-12 – 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We are blessed when we are persecuted because of righteousness.

When we are persecuted for the Gospel’s sake, we are in good company.  There are many, many throughout the Scriptures and church history that were persecuted because of the Scriptures and their stand for them.

Let’s look at a few Scriptures here this morning that speak concerning persecution.

James 5:10-11 – 10As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

What an example we have from the Scriptures.  The prophets faced persecution because they spoke in the name of the Lord; yet they were blessed because they persevered.

Job also persevered in the midst of great trials and the persecution of his closet friends, and yet the Lord was compassionate and merciful.

When facing persecution, don’t give up, but persevere.  God is gracious and compassionate.  And in the midst of the persecution what sustains us is His mercy and compassion.

1 Peter 4:12-14 – 12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

According to Peter, we are not to be surprised at the persecutions and sufferings we face.  But our joy is that His glory will be revealed, and in the midst of being insulted, we are blessed because God’s Spirit rests on us.

Now let’s look at the types of persecution listed here in our Scripture text.

Reviling.

It’s the Greek word ονειδιζο (on-i-did’-zo).  It means, “ to speak abusively, to criticize openly, to reproach, undeserved reproach.”  These of course are harsh words, said to injure the reputation.

Persecute.

Greek word διοκο (dee-o’-ko).  It means, “to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away, to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after, in any way whatever to harass, trouble,  to molest, to slap in the face.”  This is the more physical violent type of persecution.

Uttering all kinds of evil falsely.

This of course is the full blown lie to ruin a reputation.

What should be our response when these occur?

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We should rejoice.  Why?  Because we are in great company.  There were many who came before us and had to endure the same thing.  It is an encouraging truth to know that we are not alone.  We can learn from the faith of those who have gone before us.

Conclusion

As we conclude this morning, let me state that the reality is we are going to be persecuted for our faith.  Some will insult us, try to be violent toward us, and even lie to ruin our reputation.  But our God is with us because in Christ we have already overcome all the power of the enemy.  Stand strong and persevere during persecution.

Matthew part 11

This is the sermon for Sunday, November 13th, 2011.

Unless noted, all Scripture from the ESV.

Matthew part 11

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 2

Righteousness and happiness.

Matthew 5:6-9  –  6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Introduction

Last time we began this portion of the Gospel of Matthew that I’m calling, “The great Rabbi’s sermon.”  This is traditionally called, “The sermon on the mount.”  It begins in Matthew chapter 5 and ends in Chapter 7.

The total theme of this sermon is, that Jesus is teaching the people as a Jewish Rabbi, and he is revealing that the Jews are unable to keep the Law and also that true right standing (righteousness) with God is found in the King and the Kingdom of Heaven.

There is also this sense of shock that Jesus is going to expose in this sermon that I would consider the theme  to His Jewish audience –  that they cannot keep the Law because God requires absolute perfection.

Matthew 5:48 – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Last time we looked at the point that Divinely given happiness begins with humbling ourselves before God and man (verses 3-5).  Let’s begin unpacking the remainder of our text today.

Divinely given happiness is found in seeking after God and His righteousness and being merciful to fellow sinners.

Matthew 5:6-9 – 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Divine happiness is given to those hungering and thirsting after being found right in God’s eyes (verse 6).

In fact, those who strongly desire this right standing before God will be filled with this right standing before Him.  This is not performing works based righteousness based on keeping the Law, because in God’s sight, those works of righteousness on our part are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

The Sadducees and Pharisees of Jesus day thought that right standing with God was based on your own personal performance in Law keeping.  It is what enslaved the common Jew of the first century.  Why did works based righteousness enslave them?  Well, because God demands absolute perfection, and they could not achieve that.

Paul says something in a couple of verses I want us to look at quickly.

Romans 10:3-4 – 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Philippians 3:8-9 – 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…

 

Here we see that in both passages Paul says that righteousness (which is this perfect moral standing before a holy, righteous God) comes from faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.  It is not based on human works or effort on our part.  In fact, according to Romans he states that those who try to find righteousness by keeping the Law are not submitting to God’s righteousness.

Let’s go back to our text.  It says that those who , “hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled or satisfied.”  This hungering and thirsting is describing a strong desire – a desire to be pleasing to God; to be found by Him as holy, righteous, and perfect.  This is only found in Jesus Christ.  And those who seek after Christ, pleading for Him to be merciful to them in their sin are given the righteousness of Christ (another way of saying this, it is imputed to them).  They are filled with God’s righteousness.

Let’s look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – 26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Divine happiness is given to those who are merciful to those who sinned against them; they will be shown mercy by God (verse 7).

The one who has been most offended by personal offense is God Almighty.  We have offended Him by our sins; and yet, when we cried out for mercy – He heard and forgave us.  True Disciples of Christ are merciful to those who have sinned against them or injured them.  It isn’t a human mercy, but it is a mercy that comes from the Spirit living in us.  But if we refuse to be merciful to those who wrong us, God will discipline us.

James 2:13 – For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Divine happiness is given to those whose hearts have been made pure – they shall see God (verse 8).

This is talking about fellowship with God, not only in the next life, but in this present one as well.  The problem is God only fellowships with those who are pure in heart.  How is that a problem?  Well, none of us are pure in heart.  It is only through Jesus Christ, that are sins are forgiven, are hearts are made pure, and therefore will see and fellowship with God.

Notice what Jesus Himself has said.

John 14:9 – Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Paul says something as well that is rather powerful.

Colossians 1:15-20 – 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Notice in verse 20 it says, “and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things…”  It is through Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection that our hearts have been made pure – therefore not only in the next life, but in this life, we can see and have fellowship with our Father God.

Conclusion

Let’s try to apply some of these truths this morning:

  • As Christians, it should be our desire to be righteous before our Father.
  • But we must recognize this righteousness is not found in an obedience to some moral code; it is only found in Christ Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection.
  • Through Christ our hearts have been made pure – therefore we have total and complete fellowship with the Father that no one can take away.
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