Matthew 5:27-48, December 15, 2019
Adultery/Divorce, Oaths, Eye for Eye, Love Your Enemies
Review – SALT You are indicates only the genuinely born-again person is salt. For a Christian, the salt of the earth, to lose his or her saltiness, the Gospel would have to be diluted in his or her life. How? Maybe they mix the Gospel with other ideas or faiths or maybe they are skeptics, does God’s given rules really apply in 2019?
LIGHT You are the light of the world describes the essential mission of the Christian to the world. The light of Jesus, through us, is to clearly shine forth into the darkness of human depravity. Are you putting your light under a bowl? You are if you are living inconsistently as a Christian with unconfessed sin in your life.
THE LAW FULFILLED Jesus takes the law from mere outward observance to the inner spiritual intention of God. He went beyond its mere outward requirements. v19 where you might teach others but do not do what you teach. v20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Accepting the gift of Grace in faith then and now provides a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Paul nails it in Romans 1:17 when he wrote For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is from faith to faith, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Next Jesus provides examples to show us how to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees using contrasts between the law and the inner attitude of the heart desired by God. These examples show us the gospel in action where the rubber meets the road. They begin with You have heard (or It has been said) and then His answer begins with But I tell you … .
First Example: Murder where Jesus begins by quoting the law, Exodus 20:13, then goes beyond the outward demand of the law to the inner state of the believer or as we might say, to the heart of the matter. In doing so Jesus states Anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. And finally Jesus considers it far more important to be reconciled to a brother than to perform a religious duty. Jesus says we must first be reconciled to your brother. We should do as Paul commanded in Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
5:27-30 Adultery is a result of an inner altitude of lust driven by your heart and your mind.
5:31-32 and 19:3-10 Divorce These two verses were given to people who were already married so they might take seriously their marriage relationship. Everyone who divorces his wife without a biblical basis makes her commit adultery and since the man who does the divorcing brings about an unjust suspicion of adultery on the divorcee, the wife Jesus regards this as sin. Turning to 19:3-10 makes Jesus position on this clear. Adultery (moichao) and fornication (pornia) are related, but different. Adultery does not have to result in divorce, no scriptural basis for must and even pornia can be forgiven.
5:33-37 Oaths Oath taking, Jesus tells us, is unnecessary if one is normally in the habit of telling the truth. We might say if we are not or to make a point say such as, ‘this ain’t no joke’ or ‘I swear to God’ or ‘On my mother’s grave’ … This does not mean it is wrong to ‘swear to tell the truth’ in a court of law. The point is that it should be unnecessary in a real Christian society to have to tell the truth at all.
5:38-42 Eye for an Eye The principle of retaliation was common in both Jewish and other ancient Near Eastern law codes. The problem was often the offended person would overreact to the offense and retaliate causing greater injury than the one received.
These passages alone do not mean that a man should not defend his family or his country, but instead that he should not attempt personal vengeance even through the law to compensate for a personal injury. Believers should not attempt to justify themselves or to inflict vengeance through legal means. Examples 1) turn the other cheek 2) hand over your coat as well as your shirt – trust God to invoke the ultimate in eternal justice. 3) walk that extra mile with a Roman soldier so you may share the gospel 4) loans should be looked at as potential gifts, be willing to lend to those in need. However use common sense as noted in 1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
5:43-48 Love and Pray for Your Enemies The love in this passage is that which originates from God Himself.
The quality of love commanded here is expressed by giving. We pray for those that persecute us or our brothers and sisters in Christ. Loving an enemy involves doing good things toward that enemy in order to win him or her over to the cause we represent.
Loving your enemy is evidence of your salvation by the Grace of God, and that you are a child of your Father in heaven.
So are we going to follow these examples that show us the gospel in action when the rubber meets the road?