Monthly Archives: March 2011

Sermon on the Mount – Keeping Your Word

 

Sermon on the Mount – Keeping Your Word

March 27, 2011

Matthew 5:33-37 “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.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Once again, we find Jesus focusing on another area where the Pharisees presented an outward appearance of righteousness but inwardly they were misled and misguided. Jesus confronts the fact that the Pharisees were using oaths to present themselves as holy or above others. One of the reasons Jesus was countering this is that the Pharisees of the day had a way of swearing that was an attempt to impress others with their sincerity and reliability in order to gain favor and acceptance. The problem here is that they attempted to add weight to the promises they made. It became a competition of sorts of who could swear on the greatest of things.

  • Heaven
  • The throne of God
  • The earth
  • One’s head

The greater problem is that in many cases the Pharisees had no intention of following through with their commitment. They were focused on the oath and not the action that was to follow. But Jesus counters with the thought that our word ought to be our bond. When we make a commitment, we must seek to fulfill that commitment because our word should matter.

 What does your word mean? Do you keep your commitments and promises? An article in The Business Journal makes the following statement that is applicable to this discussion. “Keeping your word never goes out of style.” And if the business community recognizes the value of this truth how much more should we as believers keep our word. 

The author of the article continues by saying that “Meeting commitments, exceeding expectations and customer satisfaction are all 21st century ways to say that keeping your word is not out of style. Unfortunately, I am very concerned, and more and more convinced, that we have raised a whole generation of businesspeople who believe that failing to meet a commitment is acceptable. Perhaps even a way of life. Perhaps even a business strategy.” (Bill Brooks, The Business Journal March 13, 2000)

The great philosopher Woody Allen may have been right when he said that “success is simply showing up.” Lots of people don’t show up at all – and if they do their ethics, honesty and commitment simply don’t.

Making false promises tends to be:

  1. Manipulative – We attempt to get others to do what we want by making promises we cannot keep or ever intended to keep. It becomes an issue of what I say and not what I do. It has been said of certain politicians that they often discuss topics and speak to what they would do when in fact they do very little to bring change. When one is manipulative they will say or do anything to get you to do what they want.
  2. Self-centered – We often make promises because we want to get someone off of our back or we want them to believe that we are more than we really are. Making oaths can be a self-centered exhibition of pride. But rather than swearing let your word be your bond.
  3. Disrespectful of others – By not keeping our promises or commitments we are in essence “dissing” or disrespecting others but God has called us to love others.

 Most common promises:

  1. I promise I will do it tomorrow. How many times have we heard of a politician promising to do something if they are re-elected? My question is that, if you are in office, why don’t you do that now.
  2. I promise I will never tell anyone.
  3. I will call you. Or, I will pray for you.
  4. I will never do that again.
  5. I promise I will always love you.

 

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Pastor’s Discovery Class – The Process of Sin

Pastor’s Discovery Class

The Process of Sin

One constant in our lives is the propensity we have to sin and make mistakes. It happens to all of us and none of us are immune to this event. It is a part of the depravity of mankind that propels him into sin if he does not guard himself. In fact, John states that it is a sin to think that we do not sin. He says “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). 

As I have studied the word of God there seems to be a defined pattern for sin that takes place over and over again. The purpose of this study is to look at this process and to establish ways to diminish the work of sin in our lives.

The pattern or process of sin is illustrated by Adam and Eve, Achan and David. Each of these very clearly followed this pattern. What is the pattern? It is:

  • Each of them saw…..
  • Each of them coveted…..
  • Each of them took ……
  • Each of them hid …..
  • And, each of them was confronted…..

Let us look at the story of the fall of Adam and Eve and subsequently all of mankind:

Gen 3:1-13 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

A couple of comments before we look at the process:

The temptation to doubt God and to doubt the truth of His word is very real and can lead us into sin. The serpent deceived Eve with doubt and the life long battle of being like God. Notice that the serpent said “did God really say.” This is the one tool that is the most effective in our lives. When thoughts of doubt come we begin to doubt the truth of God’s word and whether or not He is who He says He is and so on. If the enemy can get us to doubt he has us where he wants us.

Secondly, the temptation to be like God is also very real. The serpent convinced Eve that the reason that God did not want them to eat of the fruit of the tree is that in so doing they would become like gods and God did not want that. This has been the battle since that time; e.g. man trying to get to God in his own way or in trying to lower God to his standard. Either way we fail. Today, the big issue is to diminish God and bring Him to our level by saying that we are all gods.

The process:

1. Eve saw that the tree was good for food. It is important to note that no sin had been committed at this juncture. It is not a sin to be tempted. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus was tempted in all points as we were but without sin. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15). This is where we get in trouble because sometimes we are convinced that because we were tempted we might as well do the sin. That is wrong.

2. Eve coveted the fruit because she saw that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree would make one wise. Who would not want that but as we have experienced in our lives sin has consequences that must be paid. It is at this stage as we can begin to move into a state of sin when we begin to conspire to act out the sin. We say things like I would do this if no one would find out. James had this to say about being tempted. He stated Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

3. She took of the fruit and ate it and she gave some to her husband. For those who think that Adam was somehow innocent, this passage reminds us that he was just as culpable. He stood by and let his wife fall into the trap of sin that would change the face of the earth and all of mankind forever. Sin has its consequences and their innocence was shattered forever. They now saw that they were naked and they were ashamed.

4. They hid themselves by sewing fig leaves to make loin cloths to hide their nakedness. What God created had now become a shame to them. Think with me about how much in our society is geared towards nudity and sexual immorality. Not only did they attempt to hide themselves by covering up their nudity, they also hid from God. “I heard the sound of you in the Garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.” In terms of our relationship with God our relationship with Him is always affected when we live in unconfessed sin. Man was cowering in fear and shame. He now had a diminished view of the capacity of God to love him regardless of what he had done.    

5. They were confronted by God. Notice Adam’s response. That woman you gave me. You will know the depth of your sin by how you try to shift blame or divert attention away from the sin you have committed. How do you respond when you are confronted by your sin:

 a. It was that wife or husband you gave me.

b. It was that friend.

c. It wasn’t me.

d. It was not my fault.

e. I didn’t know it was a sin.

 For personal study review the story of Achan and David:

  1. The story of Achan – Joshua 7.
  2. The story of David – 2 Samuel 11 & 12.

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Are You Committed – Divorce

Peninsula Community Church 

March 20, 2011

Sermon on the Mount

Committed for Life?

 Matthew 5:31-32  “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 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.

Introduction:

My goal in this message today is to balance God’s truth with God’s grace and His love. The discussion of divorce has been one that has created controversy in churches around the world. The problem is that we often respond in one of two ways. We can take the legalistic approach to divorce by giving no room for grace to those who have experienced it or who are dealing with the effects of it in their life. Or, we take the extreme liberal approach and say anything goes and deny that there are consequences to our decisions.

This issue of divorce was brought home to me by a debate that I and several other pastors were having several years ago. In the discussion, one pastor made an observation that I will never forget. He said that he could preach in any church in America because he has never been divorced. This is in spite of the fact that before he became a believer he admittedly had more than 250 different partners in his life and that he most likely had children all over America. The reason for this is that he had been a part of a motor cycle gang before he had become a believer and had lived a promiscuous lifestyle. Conversely, a 16 year old kid who got his girlfriend pregnant and was forced to marry her; then found out that that was the worst thing they could have done divorces her he cannot preach in most churches in America. This is in spite of his conversion, confession of faith and true repentance after the divorce.

As we look at this issue this morning we will look at the debate of Jesus’ time, the plan of God for marriage and divorce, the reality of our time, the causes of divorce and finally we will look at the hope for those who have experienced such an event in their lives.

The DebateAs we read this passage today Jesus is responding to the debate of His of day. The religious leaders were debating the grounds by which one would be allowed to divorce. The Pharisees dragged Jesus into the debate in Matthew 19:3 when they asked Jesus if it were lawful to divorce their wives for any reason.

Once again Jesus is put in the position of having to counter the way the old law was being interpreted with the new law that is measured by grace and mercy and not by the hardness of fulfilling some predetermined and pre-described list of rules. As in the issue of anger and lust the Pharisees had hijacked and bent the original intent of the law of God to fit their concepts and ideals on what was acceptable for divorce to take place.

In the days of the New Testament, the man was in total control of his wife. And many religious leaders believed that divorce could occur for any reason and at any time. Rabbi Akibah a respected Rabbi among the Pharisees interpreted the law of divorce to mean that the man could divorce the woman for any reason. If she burned the meal, he could divorce her. If she over salted the food, he could divorce her. He even went so far as to say that the man could divorce the wife if he found another woman that was more attractive or younger. If he were to divorce his wife he was to give her a document that stated she had been released from the marriage and was allowed to marry without moral implications. This was hard on the woman because in most cases she would have no revenue stream, no home and no financial support from her previous spouse.

 Jesus counters this belief by establishing the parameters of divorce on moral grounds. And yet he does not forbid divorce absolutely as He provides the morality clause as a way to break the covenant in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19. And in I Corinthians 7 the basis of Paul’s teaching was that if an unbelieving spouse pursues divorce the believing spouse is released.

The Plan It is important to note that God’s plan is for marriage to be a commitment for life. In God’s eyes marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman. Therefore, divorce was never God’s intent or His will. When two people marry they were to commit themselves to a union of their lives into one flesh and into one being. In Genesis 2:24 God says that Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. The idea expressed in this picture is that of two pieces of paper that are glued together. Each person will have their own personalities, goals and dreams but they come together to see that come to pass in each other. This is why divorce is so painful and creates lasting scars and wounds.

The problem today however is that marriage is often entered into so lightly that many will have one foot out the door before the ink is dried on the paper. I often ask a question when I do marriage counseling that gets a variety of answers. I ask “Why do you want to be married?” I asked one young guy this question and he said that “He had never been married and wanted to give it a shot to see if it would work.” This did not give me great hope that the marriage would last.

The RealityThe reality is that because of human depravity and the fallen nature of mankind divorce is a very real issue for us. The statistics are clear today about the state of marriage in America:

  • Fifty percent of those who marry today will divorce.
  • On the stress scale, divorce and separation are ranked 2nd and 3rd. Only the death of a spouse is rated higher. And many spouses polled stated that they would have preferred death over divorce because of the ongoing issues and problems faced.
  • More than 80 percent of those who are divorced will remarry within three years and 65 percent of those marriages will fail again.
  • More than a million children each year are involved in divorce and more than 13 million children under 18 live with one parent so that single parent families are growing at a rate twenty times faster than two parent families.

 The Cause – But why does this happen? Let me give you three reasons today:

The sinfulness of man. Man is sinful and therefore reacts to the draw of the sinful nature. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden man has been seeking to go his own way and do his own thing. Rather than live out his commitments, it is easier to reject God’s perfect will and his plan.

Self-centeredness – because of the sinfulness of man we have become a self-centered society and nation. To be selfish and self-centered is to be sensitive to your partner, to see things from only your way, to seek your good above all else, and to protect yourself first and foremost. Everything has become disposable today. Everything we buy has a life. For example laptop computers have an active life of approximately two years before it will be obsolete and out-of-date. New Cell Phones are coming out every year. Sometimes nothing has changed but the outside package. The problem is that we desire the latest and greatest thing to satisfy our desires and wants. We even apply this to marriage. I will stay married until a new model comes along or something new happens. Why because I need to be happy.

Hard-heartednessThis is also a sinful attitude and a result of the sinfulness of man. When one becomes self-centered they can also become hard-hearted and they will then begin to refuse to change. Even when confronted with the truth, they will refuse make the course adjustments they need to because they do not want to submit to anyone else.

The HopeBut this is not the whole story, there is more because there is hope.

God loves us regardless of what we have done. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:8, 14).

God forgives every sin and wrong we have committed. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9). The Lord made this very clear in His dealing with the woman who “was taken in adultery, in the very act” (John 8:4). He reminded her accusers that they also were sinners and had no warrant to punish her. Then He told the woman: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

He in no way condoned her sin, but He did forgive her sin, when she gave evidence of godly sorrow and determination not to sin again in this way. Under such conditions, His followers would do well to follow His example. At least in this particular context, He put no further conditions on her freedom, either to return to her husband if he would have her, or to marry another if she were already divorced.

God restores every person who is willing to commit their life and their way to Him. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:1-6). We forget as believers that Jesus die for our sin to restore us and to make us whole.

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What Makes Us Angry – Pastor’s Discovery Class

Sermon on the Mount – Pastor’s Class

“Me Angry”

Matthew 5:21-26 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 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. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 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. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

 Two ways to deal with anger:

  1. We internalize it.
  2. We vent it.

 What causes us to get angry?

Unmet expectations – when our expectations are not met we often become angry and lash out at those who have failed us.

We have not dealt with issues in the past. When we walk in unforgiveness we have opened a door for anger to take hold of our lives. This is why Paul states that we should not let the sun go down on our anger (Eph. 4:26-27).

Unresolved guilt. When we walk in guilt and condemnation we also open the door to for anger to be manifested in our lives.

We feel abused or used. When someone continues to use us or abuse we often respond in anger. Whether than take our anger out on the one causing the abuse we often take it out on the one we love.

We are angry at someone else but we take it out on others.

We see wrongs done and we see others get away with wrong doing. When we believe that a person is getting away with sin or wrongdoing we can become angry.

There is a difference between righteous anger and anger.

Steps for dealing with anger:

  1. Realize there is an offense.
  2. Leave your offering.
  3. Go.
  4. Be reconciled.
  5. Then return and offer your gift.

Scriptures for anger:

Psalms 37:7-9 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

Psalms 103:8-9 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

Proverbs 14:29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Proverbs 16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 29:22 A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Ephesians 4:26-27; 31 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

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Sermon on the Mount – “What Were You Thinking – The Power of Lust.”

Sermon on the Mount

“What Were You Thinking”

Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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.  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.

In this passage Christ is once again dealing with the Pharisees righteousness. His intent is to show that it is not only the act that is the sin but it is the thought processes and the character of the heart that is just as critical. The reason this is important is that the physical act begins in the heart long before it actually is an action. By this I mean that too often we play out in our minds what it would be like to have item ‘x’ or to do whatever. The Pharisees taught that if someone thought lustfully about someone that no sin was committed because they never had actually committed the act.

Lust is defined as wanting something that one can’t have. Jesus taught that the thoughts of our heart, not surrendered to God, can become actions that wound and hurt others. But, as believers we must deal with our thoughts and emotions before they become actions.

Jesus wants us to understand that it is out of the heart that we respond to the stimulus around us. It is for this reason that we can desire something and yet know that it is very wrong all at the same time.

When we sin there is a process that takes place. We see this in Adam and Eve’s life, in Achan and in David. In each of these cases we see what will occur when we do not control our thoughts and emotions. In every one of these cases the process was the same.

They saw the apple, the gold and the naked Bathsheba.

They coveted the apple, the gold or the woman.

In each case they took what they coveted. Have you ever notice how much sin draws you.

And in the end they tried to hide what they had done.

But in the end each one were caught. God came walking in the cool of the day. The army of Israel was defeated at Ai. And David was confronted by Nathan…

To offend is the same word as a spring loaded trap. This is the reason that Jesus says that if our eye offends us or causes us to sin that we are to pluck it or if our hand causes you to sin then it should be cut off as well. If you do not guard your eyes and your life you will place yourself in the place where the trap of sin will overtake you.

It is for this reason that John states that we should (1John 2:15-17) – Not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

  How do we combat the lusts:

We take every thought captive by controlling what we see and what we read – 2Corinthians 10:3-6 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

We set up boundaries. Job said that he made a covenant with his eyes. (Job 31:1).

We meditate on the word of God. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11.

We pray for God’s guidance and protection. The Psalmist said it this way Psalm 141:3  Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

 What we put into our minds shape and mold who we are and it shapes and molds our emotions.

Let me close with this. I recognize that in this room there are those of that are dealing with many different things. But there is one thing that you need to know. God loves you. There is nothing that we can do to stop God’s love. He loves us now as much as He ever will and that means even when we sin or we make big mistakes, He still loves us.

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Pastor’s Discovery Class Notes – 3/06/11

The Righteousness of the Pharisees exposed :

 The following is a summary of Matthew 23 and Jesus’ criticism of their lifestyle.

1. The Pharisees did not practice what they preach. They are the do as I say group and not the do as I do.

2. The Pharisees burdened the people with rules and regulations that the Pharisees could not keep.

3. The Pharisees were more concerned about their outward appearances but inside they were dead and lifeless. Their righteousness was based on how they dressed and how they performed the tasks they were to do.

4. The Pharisees aimed to gain the praise of men rather than the applause of God.

 Twelve steps to being a recovering Pharisee: The following are taken from the book 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me) by John Fischer

 1. We must admit that we all tend to judge others.

 2. We must realize that we believe everyone else is lower than us in our minds..

 3. We realize that we detest mercy being given to those who unlike us, haven’t worked for it and don’t deserve it.

 4. We have decided that we don’t want to get what we deserve after all, and we don’t want anyone else to either.

 5. We will cease to apply teaching and rebuke to anyone but ourselves.

 6. We are ready to have God remove all these defects of attitude and character.

 7. We embrace the belief that we are, and always will be experts at sinning.

 8. We are looking closely at the lives of famous men and women of the Bible who turned out to be ordinary sinners like us.

 9. We are seeking through prayer and mediation to make a conscious effort to consider others better than ourselves.

 10. We embrace the state of astonishment and glorious reality.

 11. We choose to rid ourselves of any attitude that is not bathed in gratitude.

 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will try to carry this message to others who think that Christians are better than everyone else.

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Sermon on the Mount – Me Angry?????

Sermon on the Mount

“Me Angry?”

“Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of His day.” Tim Keller 

Matthew 5:21-26 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 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. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 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. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

 This study today is in reality a continuation of last week’s message on the righteousness of the Pharisees’. In fact, the rest of this chapter deals with issues of righteousness and the new economy of Christ’s law.

Jesus begins by pointing out that the law of the Old Testament said that there was to be no murder. That is there was to be no taking of life out of malice or contempt for the other person. While the Pharisees had kept the letter of the law they failed to keep the spirit of the law. So here, Jesus was dealing with the spirit of the law when he spoke to them and said that even to be angry with a brother was a sin.  That is why He states that murder takes place in the heart long before it becomes a physical act.

Then he says that to call someone a fool places one under judgment. The word used in the KJV is the word Racca! It is thought to be the sound for spitting in one’s face. In the New Testament times one of the worse things that could be done for anyone was to spit in their face. It was a sign of total contempt and rejection. In fact in most states it is a crime to spit in another’s face. One could be arrested for assault for spitting in another’s face.

The reason that Jesus dealt with the issue of anger here is that He knew that unless anger is dealt with it would give room for the enemy to work. If we do not deal with our anger we begin to retain it and then we cultivate it so that it begins to control our lives. This is why Paul says to Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

Therefore if we do not deal with our anger it leads to sin and can lead to murdering another if not in the physical at least in the emotional and relational sense.

Dallas Willard in his book Divine Conspiracy stated that “there is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it.” It is however a natural process that when we see things undone that anger builds naturally and finally will break into action.

The answer to the issues of life though is to handle things with love and not harbor anger which leads to bitterness. In Hebrews 12:15 the writer says “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…”

We must first understand that anger is a God created emotion. Anger is what gets the adrenaline flowing so that we are called into action to do what we did not think we can do. But our anger needs to be submitted to God so that we do not step outside the bounds of God’s purposes and His will for us.

In most cases we deal with anger in one of two ways. These tend to be the extremes:

  1. We internalize it. The internalization of anger or clamming up – To clam up we repress the anger and we hold onto it. This leads to stress, bitterness, ulcers and other sicknesses. The Minerth Meir clinic found that when we allow things to go with dealing with them that Serotonin in the brain is actually depleted and results in anxiety, depression and mental failures.
  2. We ventilate it. The ventilation of anger or blowing up – when one blows up, their emotional energies are most often aimed and fired at someone else. This is when we say and do things that we would not do otherwise.

 The key is to direct our anger toward the problem and not the person.

 It is for this reason that Jesus says that if you come into worship and you realize that your brother has something against you that you are to leave your offering there and go to be reconciled with your brother or sister.

 Notice the steps:

  1. Realize there is an offense. There is some recognition of a wrong that has been done. Notice the person themselves has not done anything but they remember that the other person has a problem.
  2. Leave your offering.
  3. Go – Jesus calls us to go to that person and don’t let it go on.
  4. Be reconciled
  5. Then return and offer your gift.

 Other scriptures on reconciliation:

Matthew 7:1-6

Matthew 18:15-20

Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

In the final analysis we must value others and remember that every person is a creation of God.

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