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Heart of Holiness

If you’ve ever had a job you’ve probably tried to figure out how to keep on your boss’ good side. You want to learn about what annoys them, then make an effort not to do those things. As a follower of Jesus, I would imagine that I would like to do the same thing. We could’ve easily called this message or even this whole series “Things that annoy God” but as we boil down the different components of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we start to see a few consistencies emerge from the points.

A few weeks ago we started a series called On The Mountain. In this series we began taking a closer look at one of Jesus’ signature sermons in the Bible. We can learn a lot of things about Jesus based off of this teaching. To fully understand the point of the Sermon on the Mount, we cant forget what we unpacked in part 2 of this series. True righteousness goes deeper than religion realizes. Jesus is making it clear that the boundaries set by the religious leaders were not at all recognized by God our Father. In fact, those boundaries missed the point altogether, they were far from the heart that God has for His people.

Later on in Matthews gospel, Jesus is asked an important question by the Pharisees,

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind

Love your neighbor as yourself

Now with this question and answer in mind, let’s jump back into the sermon on the mount. Today were going to examine Matthew 5:21-42. In this passage, Jesus breaks down a few different, but related topics. Anger & Revenge, Adultery & Divorce, and Vows. These may seem like completely different topics but all of these things have to do with the way we relate to those around us. So lets look at these topics through the lens of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40, to love your neighbor as yourself.

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

Skip down to verse 38

38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.

Let’s hang out here for a second and draw some contrasts between the teachings of the Pharisees and the teachings of Jesus. The Pharisees taught that if you commit murder, you are subject to judgment. Jesus on the other hand is more concerned with the root of the problem.

Jesus is teaching God’s standards for righteousness and as we see, they far outweigh the cultural or even religious standards.

Most people don’t go from peace, happiness and joy to murder. It’s a long and sinful path that starts at a place that most people would judge as acceptable, thoughts in your mind or feelings that you have. So first let’s line up the greatest commandment of all with this topic.

Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind

Love your neighbor as yourself

Okay, I love God with all of my heart, soul and mind… but I still hate this person I go to school with. This is the point that we meet the struggle with our humanity. We have to fight those feelings right there. The feelings of dislike for our neighbor based on any circumstance that you can think of. Instead fight within yourself to find grace, patience and forgiveness.

Let’s look what Jesus address next, the topics of Adultery and Divorce.

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

31 “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ 32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.

Jesus is dealing with relationship issues. I just don’t understand how people can look at this and say that the Bible isn’t relevant to our everyday life. These two points in this message right here is as relevant as it gets. First the topic of Adultery, cheap sex, cheating on your husband or wife. This is what Jesus is talking about. If you even think about these things, you’re breaking God’s standards.

33 “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’

At first glance this one might not make much sense to us, but if we apply some context we learn that people would weasel out of things that they said or commitments that they had made and use the excuse that “because God wasn’t involved” then I’m not

held to my word. Jesus is teaching essentially not to lie, not to say you’ll do something then fail to follow through. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.

The truth is tonight’s message is a challenge for any pastor or any person to teach, because this goes to the core of who we all are as humans. We’re selfish, sinful people who in the sight of God are so unworthy. But it’s God’s grace that makes all the difference.

The great thing about all of this though, is that God takes it a step further and shows us His grace. This is what God desires of us. To live

So what is the point of all this?

We are to love as God loves us.

We are to forgive as God forgave us.

We are to love as God loves us

A message like this brings us back to the familiar feeling of being inadequate before God, which is exactly the point. We are inadequate before God. But we’re eligible for His grace, and in fact we NEED His grace

Cultural Righteousness is not enough

to gain access to the kingdom of heaven.

When you live by a standard set of religious rules, you’re going to look down on people who do not live up to those standards. If we want to pursue a Christlike life, we’re going to love others through their struggles, we’re going to have grace for one another, be forgiving, be faithful and live with integrity.

If your religion makes you hate, look down on, or judge others, then your religion has nothing to do with Jesus and you need to reevaluate.

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