As __________ read the passage did you notice all the sets of two?
And now here in Matthew 7:13-14 there are 4 sets of two: the narrow gate and the wide gate; the broad way and the narrow way; two destinations, destruction and life; and two groups of people; the many and the few.
Now, there are a couple of things that Jesus is doing with all these sets of twos…one thing He is doing is He is making contrasts.
But then the second thing that Jesus is doing with all these sets of 2 is presenting us with the stark reality of things.
But what Jesus does with all of these sets of 2 is He brings us to the stark reality that when it comes to righteousness…and treasures…and ambitions…and masters…and gates…and ways…and destinations…and groups of people…there are only 2 choices.
Let’s look at verse 13 and 14….and let me tell you, as we go through this it is “gut check” time!
Look at verse 13…notice first of all the TWO WAYS.
But the “narrow way” on the other hand is hard.
And its narrowness is due to something called “divine revelation”, which restricts travelers to the confines of what God has revealed in Scripture to be true and good.
So, those are the TWO WAYS…one broad…the other narrow; one easy that faces no resistance and allows anything…and one that is hard that lives in the confines of the word of God…one that follows the world…and one that follows Christ.
Second, notice the two gates.
But the gate leading to the hard way is small.
And In order to enter it you must leave everything behind…sin, selfish ambition, covetousness…even if necessary family and friends.
Then there are two destinations.
By contrast, the hard way, entered by the narrow gate, leads to life…a life so glorious, so wonderful that human words cannot fully describe it.
And then there are the two crowds or two groups of people.
Then there are the few.
So, there it is. Jesus has clearly laid it out for us. It is your choice.
The good…and the bad of all of this is you can change roads, destinations, and crowds at any time.
ASK, SEEK, FIND
To many people this is a confusing passage of scripture.
First, remember who Jesus is speaking to here…if you go back to Matthew 4:18-22 and chapter 5:1 Jesus is primarily speaking to His disciples.
With that in mind notice what Jesus says in verse 7…notice the verbs: “ask, seek, and knock.”
And if I understand verse 8 correctly the promises that Jesus makes here apply to everyone who continuously and consistently ask, seek, and knock…this is not limited to just the Jews, or Gentiles, or to the rich or the poor, or to males or females.
And that in turn tells me that for those who do not persist in asking, who do not continue to seek, who do not continue to knock…who do not constantly pursue after God…God is not obligated to keep these promises.
Now, notice verses 9-10: “Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 “Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
The second thing to notice is, “God is trustworthy…He is not going to trick you and give you something that is not good for you.
So, if we ask for good things, He grants them; if we ask for things which are not good (either not good in themselves, or not good for us or for others, directly or indirectly, immediately or ultimately) He denies them; and only He knows the difference.
Now, look at verse 11: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
When He says that “Your Father who is in heaven will give what is good to those who ask Him” what is the “good” that He is talking about?
And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 10 “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. 11 “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
This passage is about asking our Father in heaven to give us the Holy Spirit…and in giving us the Holy Spirit He gives us everything that goes with the Spirit: every grace, every gift.
Let me ask you this…my daughter has been sick for a long time…and I continue to ask God to make her well….
We consistently pray for rain…and there is nothing wrong with that.
This passage is about asking, seeking, knocking persistently…persevering and pressing on…asking a loving trustworthy God…not so much for good health…not so much for a better job…not so much for a new car…
I know of several, including myself at one time, who have been disillusioned, and discouraged, and disappointed with God because of a misunderstanding of what Jesus promises here.
But also know this: This passage is not the complete, all-encompassing, overruling all other instructions on prayer given to us in the Bible. (There are other passages and other instructions that encourage us to pray for physical as well as spiritual things).
Matthew 7: 1-5
I don’t know if you realize it or not but this passage and especially verse 1 is one of the most unique passages in all the Bible.
Some use this passage to justify not making any judgments at all when it comes to people and their character, and their conduct.
And some say this forbids a Christian from ever sitting on a jury in a court of law.
Well, to help us understand what Jesus is saying here we must go back to Matthew 5:20.
So, what were the scribes and Pharisees doing? Turn to Luke 7:36:
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him. And He entered the Pharisee’s house, and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
The Pharisees, in their self-righteous arrogance, said there are people who are “sinners” and then there are us Pharisees.
Look at Luke 18: 9: And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:
Look at the rest of this starting in verse 10:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12’l fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get’
Do you see the attitude that these Pharisee’s had? They were arrogant… and were self-righteously over critical of others.
So when Jesus says in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest you be judged”, He is not talking about making sound judgments about open and obvious sin.
Jesus is not forbidding making some judgments in reference to what some were teaching and whether they were a false teacher or not. 1 John 4:1-3.
And He is not forbidding making some judgments about what someone believes and doesn’t believe in reference to salvation; Acts 19:1-7.
He is not forbidding making a judgment in reference to a person’s moral character and whether we should or shouldn’t be their companion.
He is not forbidding sitting in a courtroom as a juror.
When Jesus says, “Judge not lest you be judged”, He is not saying that you are not to make any judgments at all!
Now, in reference to this attitude of looking at others with contempt…It is like the story of the newspaper reporter that was doing a story about the laziness that existed in the South.
You cannot always see other people’s motives.
Before we make judgments about someone we need to get all the facts; don’t work off of assumptions, half-truths, and hear say.
The point is, sometimes what we see is not what is…and what is sometimes is something only God can see and know…
Look at this found in Rom 14:3-4
3 Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another?
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.
We can’t know everything in everyone else’s heart.
In fact, look at the warning in Matthew 7:
2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
How would you like for God to judge you the way you judge others?
Look at vs. 3: “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
Do you see the word “look”?
Several years ago several of us went out to play golf (Eldon…first tee). .
Before you judge someone else…look at your own life!
Now verse 5: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Jesus is not forbidding correcting a brother or a sister who is involved in sin…or whose life is not what it should be.
What Jesus is condemning here is being critical of another without being critical of ourselves.
Let’s say that I approach a brother, I have two grown children and neither has remained faithful, and I arrogantly approach a brother and criticize him because his children are not attending services, how affective am I going to be in helping that brother?
If we see our situation first…we might be a little bit slower in criticizing and condemning someone else.
Jesus is saying, if you want to help your brother with his sin you have to take the huge plank if self-righteousness out of your own eye…because it is then and only then that you can truly see to help your brother.
Jesus is not telling us that we are not to make any judgments of people at all.
Matthew 6: 19-24
I want to begin with a simple little exercise…you don’t have to answer out loud…
Look at the passage that was read again…in vs. 19 and 20 there are two choices: treasures on earth and treasures in heaven.
Well, we don’t have to wonder because Jesus tells us what to choose. Look at vs. 19 and 20 again. Jesus says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth,
But look at the other choice…the other option: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”
Now, when Jesus speaks of “treasures in heaven” what is He talking about?
Now look at the second set of choices found in verses 22-23: a clear (or sound eye) or a bad eye.
Well look at what Jesus says. Jesus says, “If your eye is clear…if your eye is focused on Christ…if your eye is focused on heaven…then your whole body will be full of light!”
“But if your eye is bad…if your eye focusses on the things of this world…the wicked pleasures of this world…the values and ideas of this world…your bad eye will plunge you into a darkness that Jesus says “is great!”
You do not have to wonder about which one to choose…or which one is best…Jesus tells us…the only question is “will you listen to Him?”
Look at the next two choices found in verse 24: God or mammon.
Now, look at verses 25-34. It is a shame that this passage is so often separated from the previous verses.
In other words, what did Jesus tell us to do in verse 20: “Lay up your treasures in heaven.”
What does He tell us to do in verse 22: “Have a clear eye”…focus on Christ…focus on heaven.”
And what does He tell us to do in verse 24: “Serve God.”
But if we choose to lay up our treasures here on earth, if we choose to have a bad eye, if we choose to serve mammon instead of God…then what are we going to do in verse 25: Be anxious…worry…worry about life…worry about what you are going to eat…worry about what you are going to drink…worry about what you will wear…
So, which will you choose: to lay up treasures here on earth….or to lay up treasures in heaven?
LOOK AT ME!
I am glad that you are here today…Happy Mother’s Day to all.
Let’s look at the passage that was read…In this passage Jesus continues talking to us about having a “righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees.”
Well, in chapter 5 starting in vs. 21 to the end of the chapter Jesus gives us 5 instances where he contrasts what the scribes and Pharisees were doing with what we need to do.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
So look at the first area of “religious activity” that He speaks of…look at vs. 2:
“When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Here is what Jesus is saying about giving.
Giving to the needy, to the poor was considered the highest calling.
Now where they gave was in very public places. They were giving in the synagogues and apparently out in the market places where people were.
And so the scribes and Pharisees or the Rabbi would again raise up the horn and blow another blast…and then a third time…and even longer until finally there is a lot of poor people around and a lot of others watching.
Jesus says, “Give in such a way that no one knows, that no one sees.”
Now Jesus speaks to us about prayer. Look at vs. 5:
“And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men.
Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
The Hebrew people the Jewish people had a prayer for everything. (Look sometime on Wikipedia)
And for some of them they loved standing on the street corners and praying for everything just to show everyone how righteous and religious they were.
And all the people around them are in amazement and they are saying, “Wow, the Rabbis are really great men of prayer.”
So Jesus comes a long and He says that it is good to pray and it is good to pray all day, and it is good to pray 3 times a day, and to pray to God and to pray in the temple, prayer is good and keep praying.
When Jesus says here to “go into your inner room and shut the door”, don’t take that to extremes.
And look at verse 7: And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. 9 “Pray, then, in this way:
Vs. 9: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
10’Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11’Give us this day our daily bread.
12’And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13’And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]’
How long did it take to read that prayer?
Then the third thing Jesus talks about is fasting; vs. 16. “And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face (what is a gloomy face…what does that look like?) as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face 18 so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
What is Jesus talking about? He is saying that it is not about show…that you need to be sincere… there needs to be a relationship between you and your heavenly Father that is pure, and good, and healthy, and holy.
In verse 2, 5, and 16 Jesus says “don’t do as the hypocrites do.”
AN EYE FOR AN EYE
Read Luke 9: 51-54; Matt. 5:38-42
Have you ever felt this way? I think that most of us have. At some point in time, when someone has insulted us, humiliated us, or hurt us, we sometimes want to strike back.
I think everyone of us at some time has had an urge to “get even.”
Here in Luke 9, Jesus disciples want to “get even.”
And then when Jesus asked these people for help…the disciples didn’t care for that either.
And then when these Samaritans refused to receive Jesus, the disciples were furious.
The disciples wanted revenge.
But where did the disciples get this kind of thinking? Where do some today get this kind of an idea?
Turn with me if you would to Matt. 5: 38. Jesus speaks here and He says:
“You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”
But these Rabbis were doing what a lot of people do…they were misusing the scriptures.
Exodus 21 isn’t talking about revenge and retaliation.
Exodus 21:24, if you go to that passage and look is dealing with “case laws.”
The emphasis of this “case law” found in Exodus 21:24 had to do with making restitution for damages.
It was a law that was designed to keep someone from being unfairly under compensated or over compensated.
For example, in 1994 Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, NM bought a 49 cent cup of coffee at McDonald’s. After she bought the cup of coffee she put it between her knees in order to add cream to it. In the process of removing the lid she spilt the entire cup of coffee and it ran down into the seat and she suffered 3rd degree burns. She spent 8 days in the hospital and incurred about $12000 worth of medical expenses. She filed suit against McDonald’s for $20,000 to cover the cost of her medical expenses. When the case went to court the jury awarded Stella $165,000 dollars and $2.7 million dollars for punitive damages. And amount that most people felt like was a ridiculous amount for the injury sustained.
That was the purpose of the law in Exodus 21:24…it was to protect the victim by giving just restitution and at the same time it protected the wrongdoer because it limited the compensation the victim would receive.
The law found in Exodus 21:24 and quoted in Matthew 5:38 had nothing to do with retaliation.
Look at it again, Matthew 5:38: Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”
Look what he says next: “But I say to you…”
Look what he says: “But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to Him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
Do you know what Jesus is saying here?
That is not what Jesus is saying.
This passage is dealing with revenge…retaliation…getting even…what you do when someone who is evil wrongs you.
Jesus is talking about refusing, refraining, forgoing completely exacting revenge and getting even.
Paul says it this way in Romans 12: 17: “Never…never pay back evil for evil to anyone.”
Jesus doesn’t want us to retaliate…He wants us to go the “extra mile” to keep from retaliating.
I think Jesus tells us how to do this in vs. 44.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Love! Love your enemies!
Remember the song we sing, “He could have called 10,000 angels”?
The second way you keep from retaliating is changing the way you see things…look at vs. 44-45 again.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”
That is how you overcome the urge to retaliate…seeing things through Spiritual eyes.
The third thing that will keep you from retaliating is realizing what it can result in.
Sometimes we think we want to get even but it’s not worth the price that you will pay.
Dale Carnegie asked one of the rangers, “How could this be? It’s obvious that the grizzlies don’t like it. Why those skunks seem to be running around so arrogant and obnoxious stealing food right in front of the bears. Why don’t the bears get even with the skunks and run them off too?”
God tells us in Romans 12 that “Vengeance is His.”
I think that we all at sometime have an urge to “get even” with someone.
It’s not easy but it can be done.
Christ doesn’t want us to retaliate…but there is something else that Christ doesn’t want us to do either…that’s be lost.
LET YOUR “YES” BE “YES” AND YOUR “NO” BE “NO”
Matthew 5: 33-37
A month or so ago in the news a senator from Chicago was facing corruption charges and he spent the weekend huddling with his lawyers preparing for his grand jury testimony. As I saw that I thought it was a little odd. If your goal in going before the grand jury is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, why does it take hours and hours to prepare for that?
Now it would be foolish to think that lawyers and politicians are the only people who like to play games with the truth.
What about us? As God’s people do we have a problem just being honest?
Let’s look at this passage that was read because Jesus is going to deal with this very thing.
“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (most Americans…Lawyers and Politicians), you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Well, Jesus gives us 7 examples to help us understand what we need to do to exceed the scribes and Pharisees in righteousness…
Now, we have already covered the first three examples or situations…
The Pharisees then would say, “We haven’t committed adultery…we have kept the letter of the law…but Jesus would say, “Keep the spirit of the law…Don’t even lust after a woman that way!”
And the Pharisees would say, “I gave my wife a certificate of divorce…we have kept the letter of the law….and Jesus says, “Stop making your marriage so cheap! Concentrate on making your marriages work instead of justifying reasons to dissolve them! Keep the spirit of the law.
Now we come to the 4th example…look again at verse 33:
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’
Now, when you look at this it is not hard to see what the scribes and Pharisees were doing.
“You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.”
Here is another passage that shows you what they were doing. This is Matthew 23: 16-18. Jesus says:
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ 17 “You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 “And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated.’
Now, go back to Matthew 5. Look at what Jesus says in vs. 34: “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Here is what Jesus is saying to them?
Look again at Matthew 23:19: “You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 “Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21 “And he who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 “And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.
But Jesus goes farther than that. In fact, He is going to get to the literal “heart of the matter”. Look back in Matthew 5 at the beginning of verse 34, where Jesus says, “…make no oath at all.”
In fact, look at verse 37:
37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.
For example, let me show you some things we do to get out of keeping our promises:
“Anita, I am going to take you Houston as soon as school is out.”
Or I tell Anita that I am going to take her to Houston…but I have justification for not doing what I said I would because I have my fingers crossed.
And let me tell you another popular excuse that is used for not keeping our word today.
Jesus says, “Don’t play word games…don’t use technicalities to void or affirm your promises.
Let me mention one more…this is one I ran across just last week. I was talking with a funeral director and I asked him, “What do you do when people won’t pay? After all, you can’t repossess the casket?
Some of you have had this done to you…and it may be that some here this morning have done this to others.
Look at verse 37 again and notice specifically the last part of the verse. Jesus says, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.
The reason He says this is because the need to swear by something…or to make an oath…comes from our untruthfulness…our dishonesty.
Jesus is saying here that we are to “Let our statement be “yes, yes” or “No, no”…and be so trustworthy that we don’t need to swear on anything.
A bunch of politicians were traveling down the road in an old bus…when they ran off the road and crashed into a tree. Well, an old farmer that was working in his field ran over to see what happened…and after he checked on the politicians he got his shovel and buried them. A few days later the sheriff came out and the farmer told him what had happened. The Sheriff asked him, “Did the coroner come out? Are you sure they were all dead?” The old farmer said, “Well, some of them said they were still alive but you know how them politicians lie!”
Sadly, some people have a reputation for not being honest…for not meaning what they say…but it must not be that way for us as a child of God because Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes, and the Pharisees…you shall not enter the kingdom of God.
If you need to repent…you can’t change the past…but you can start today.
Some may have done this…not only do you need to repent….but you also need Christ because in Him and through Him you can be forgiven.
CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE
The passage that was read is one of the most difficult and most controversial passages in all of scripture…and the subject matter elicits some extremely strong emotions in people because of the way that the have been affected by it.
Back in vs. 20 Jesus tells us that “unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisee, we will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
And because He wants us to go to heaven…to help us understand what it means for our righteousness to exceed the scribes and Pharisees…He gives us 7 examples of what the scribes and Pharisees were doing.
So Jesus begins in verse 21 and He says, “You have heard that he ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder…
…but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court.”
Then Jesus meddles a little more…He gets a little more personal.
“You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery…”
“…but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Do you see the pattern?
Do you see how the scribes and Pharisees played with the Law?
Jesus is saying, “I have a higher righteousness for you. I don’t even want you to think about it.”
Now, what do you think Jesus is going to mention next? He has just spoken of adultery…what almost always follows problems with adultery? Divorce!
And it was said, “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce…”
But now, look at the spirit of the Law: But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Let’s look at the passage in Deuteronomy 24 where this law or this command is stated: “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.
But the scribes and Pharisees weren’t focusing in so much on the cause of the divorce…they were focusing more on her “not finding favor”…no being pleasing anymore and just making sure they kept the letter of the law….”Give her a certificate of divorce.”
“Mr. Pharisee, I heard you divorced your wife?’
But Jesus calls us to a higher righteousness: Vs. 32 …but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
What Jesus is saying here is “Stop playing games with marriage!” “Stop making your marriage so cheap!”
This teaching is about protecting women from men who would cheapen them and their covenant, not only with their mate but with God…men who would toss their marriage aside in order to satisfy their selfish desires…and feel justified in doing so all because they obeyed the letter of the Law and gave her a certificate of divorce.
Look at what Jesus says again: …but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
I have about 7 or 8 books in my office that I have read on this…and it seems that everyone has their own idea about what Jesus is saying here…and those who wrote those books are more studied on this topic than I am…and if they can’t figure it out…it is for sure that I can’t either.
So, Jesus, can I murder? No.
Look at verse 27 again.
Psychologist say that to be victimized by this sin is worse than losing your mate to death.
And for those who commit adultery…it causes unbelievable guilt…shame…and distrust.
Adultery is a horrible thing.
So look if you would at verse 27 again.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;
But look at what Jesus says in verse 28: …but…”but” says that something is wrong with their thinking!
Jesus says, “Everyone who LOOKS on a woman to LUST for her has already committed adultery.”
This isn’t talking about simply looking…Jesus isn’t saying that we can’t look at a woman…if that is the case we would all have to wear blinders.
This is what David did…look at this in 2 Samuel 11:2: Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.
Look at Genesis 39: 7; And it came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
“Looking with desire”…looking to lust is where adultery begins.
Well, how do you do that? Look at verses 29-30:
“And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.
Well, that is part of Jesus’ point!
Jesus is saying in terms that we might consider bazaar…don’t dilly dally around with this!
And why is Jesus so adamant about this? Look at the end of verse 29 and the end of verse 30.
You know, we often laugh and joke about hell…but as bad as plucking your eye out might be…as bad as cutting off your hand might be…as bad as being blind and crippled might be…as painful and miserable as this might be…hell is infinitely worse.
Look at verse 29 again. Jesus says: “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you;
So Christ’s real emphasis is cutting off…removing anything that will cause your destruction.
If some of the literature, the books, the magazines that you are reading are part of the problem…cut them off!
In Eph. 4:27 the apostle Paul says, “Do not give the devil opportunity…”
That is what you must do to keep from committing adultery…we must be dead to it and all of its desires.
Adultery is such a horrible thing…it does so much harm…it ruins so many…it can cause those who commit it to be cast into hell.
It is the worst thing you can do.
Now, what if someone has committed adultery…is there any hope for them? Let me show you two passages:
John 8:3-11 And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And when they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. 10 And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 And she said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.”]
1 Cor 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
Now, look at one more passage:
1 Cor 7:3-6 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
And one last thing…and this doesn’t just apply to young people…middle aged and older adults get married…you be careful about who you marry!
Adultery, both physical and emotional are devastating…and the consequences on everyone involved are life long…perhaps even eternal.
Now, there is an adultery that is possibly more common than the one we have talked about this morning…and that is adultery against God.
JESUS ON ANGER
After spending 3 ½ hours enduring the long lines, surly clerks, and insane regulations at the Department of Motor Vehicles, a man stopped at a sporting goods store to pick up a gift for his son. The man decided on a baseball bat and he went up to the front to check out. The clerk asked him, “Cash or Charge?” Well, the man kind of snapped at the clerk, “Cash!” Then he realized how rude that was and so he apologized to the clerk and he explained, “I have just spent the whole afternoon at the Motor Vehicle Dept.” And the clerk responded, “Shall I gift wrap the bat…or are you going back there?”
Sometimes we do some pretty crazy things when we allow anger to control us.
Look at verse 20 here in chapter 5. Jesus says that “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
In vs. 21 Jesus refers to the 6th commandment that is found in Exodus 20:13 and He says, “You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.”
Jesus says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
Well, Jesus sets things straight…and He tells them that it is about what is in your heart… that if you harbor all these hard feelings toward a brother you are just as guilty before the court as you would be if you had murdered him.
Now, look at verse 22 again…there seems to be a progression of anger here. Jesus says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother…
But notice again what Jesus says, “…everyone who is angry with his brother.”
Now, look what Jesus says again, “…everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court…or subject to the judgment.”
Now, notice what seems to be the progression of anger here.
…and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court;
Some scholars think that this word originated from the sound of a person who is clearing their throat…”Raaaacah!”….that is what I think of you.
So you start out with this silent anger…silent malice…and now it manifests itself in this contemptible and hateful speech…and Jesus says, “When you get to this point…you are guilty before the “supreme court.”
And now, look at the end of verse 22: …and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
So, as you can see…anger is a dangerous thing.
Now, look at verses 23-26. Jesus gives us a practical application of the principles He has taught us.
Now, notice as we read this that the first illustration concerns a “brother” and the second concerns an “opponent or enemy.”
If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar (in the context of today we might say, “If you are in church, in the middle of a service of worship”), and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar (Leave church immediately), and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
Jesus’ instructions are to go and do all that is within your ability to be reconciled to your brother…you do all you can to erase the animosity…the hurt feelings…
Worship becomes a sham if we have behaved so poorly prior to our coming to worship that we have knowingly hurt someone.
Now, vs. 25-26: “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 “Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent.
Jesus tells us that our righteousness is to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are going to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Let me close with two passages of scripture: 1 John 4:20-21
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
Heb 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;