This sermon – Kingdom People and Higher Righteousness – was originally preached 2013.09.25 by Ivan Weaver.
Scriptures used: Mathew 5:20-48, 1 John 3:15, Ephesians 4:26, Proverbs 4, Mathew 19:7-8.
We have a responsibility to move beyond the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees. In fact we are told that we will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven if we don’t reach such a level of righteousness.
Thou Shalt Not Kill
Verse 21-26: Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
This is a foundation law for any society that wishes to survive.
Jesus pushes this law even further than the initial idea of “thou shalt not kill.” He takes it back to its root, to anger at a brother. Anger is not an excusable sin. Jesus tells us that that is where murder comes from!
When we become angry we sin. But we are told in another part of the Bible that we need to make it right before the sun goes down. Take care of these sins! If anger is not dealt with we become destroyers and not builders.
We dare not belittle others. Jesus tells us here that if we do those kinds of things we are going to move slowly toward the ultimate result of murder. Again Jesus is calling us back behind just the egregious act of murdering, all the way to the need for respect for all people.
Our attitude about others affects our ability to worship. If we are sitting in church and thinking about some issue that we have with another person it will affect the act of our worship. If you’ve wronged your brother Jesus tells us you need to take care of that before you can worship in spirit and truth.
Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
Verses 27-30: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Adultery is a serious sin that strikes at the very heart of society. It breaks down God’s first institution, the family.
The sin of adultery begins with misplaced thoughts in the mind. The physical act of adultery doesn’t just happen overnight, rather it happens over time, it begins in the heart.
We must learn to think right before we can live right. This is found by the sanctification that can only come through Jesus. We need the transforming heart change that can only come through Jesus Christ.
By all means deal with your problems in this area! The places these problems lead are not good.
The Law of Divorce
Verses 31-32: It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Jesus did not build his doctrine on the Law of Moses, but rather went back to the way things were meant to be in the beginning.
The Swearing of Oaths
Verse 33-37: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Since Christians are to always speak the truth we should not need to use an oath.
When it comes to higher righteousness we must evaluate the integrity of our speech. We are told here that we should let our yes be yes and our no be no! The emphasis here is that our speech needs to be honest. When we say yes, let us mean yes! When we say no, let us mean no!
Our language needs to be clear. If we say something we need to mean it. And those who hear it need to understand us.
Resist Not Evil
Verse 38-42: Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Jesus is speaking to people who have the grace of God in their heart. This response, turning the other cheek, is enabled by Christ.
When we surrender to Christ the unusual responses that Jesus asks of us become normal. Are we willing to suffer wrongfully in order to help the one who offends us come to Christ?
People and their souls are more important than our rights. God honors those who honor Him.
The Law of Love
Verse 43-48: Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
True Christian love goes beyond just loving our neighbors. God chose to love us while we were yet sinners. God decided to love us!
People may be enemies to us, but if we have the love of God in our hearts we cannot be the enemies of our enemies!
Abraham Lincoln said, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”
There are three reasons that true Christians can love their enemies.
- It is a mark of maturity.
- It is the way God works.
- It is a testimony.
The standard of righteousness is not our friends. It is not our church group. It is our heavenly father!
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