Last week we opened a brand new series taking a closer look at one of Jesus’ most well known teachings, often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. In this series we are taking a closer look at some of the topics that Jesus taught about that day on the mountain in northern Israel. Let’s remember that the sermon occurred up on the mountain, and in Jesus’ time they didn’t have cars or trucks, his followers were on foot. Climbing that mountain was likely no easy task but the reward for reaching the summit was an intimate experience with the Son of God. Jesus taught love, grace and hope in the midst of condemnation and judgement. Jesus was consistent with His mission, “… He was sent into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world.”
In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus addressed perhaps the most controversial topic that surrounded His ministry. Why was Jesus here, and what was His relationship to what we have now come to know as the Old Testament. The religious leaders of the day, including the Pharisees were experts of Jewish law and tradition. They considered Jesus as a rival to their system, and failed to realize that Jesus was the fulfillment of their faith. The reason they missed Jesus is because Jesus wasn’t anything like what they were expecting. They wanted a king, a leader who would conquer their enemies and elevate the nation of Israel to world domination. Jesus saw things from a completely different perspective, a heavenly perspective, while the greatest religious leaders failed to do so. They were thinking worldly.
Are your priorities on worldly things or heavenly things?
It’s easy to get frustrated by the things that are going on around you. It’s easy to develop a hatred for your enemies. It’s easy to fall into depression because your plans aren’t working out, It is easy to give up on your goals and lose hope. I want to challenge your thinking here though, and just ask a simple question.
Are your worldly thoughts, overshadowing a heavenly viewpoint?
In order to answer this question, you’ve got to make sure that you understand what a heavenly point of view is. Its the understanding that Paul is referring to in Romans 8:28, that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” This passage does not mean that only good things happen to those who believe in Him. It means that the things that happen on this earth, happen for a reason, and it should make us closer to God. Let’s take a look at Romans 8:18 for a better context.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Paul isn’t saying that your present suffering isn’t legitimate, he’s saying that the future glory far outweighs that suffering!
He’s also saying that our present suffering is temporary, but God’s glory is eternal!
We could spend the rest of this message dissecting Romans 8, in a nutshell, Paul is teaching us that God’s redemptive plan is Jesus returning for His children, you and I, and the things that bring us trouble in this world will pale in comparison to the glory that awaits us.
So what does this have to do with Matthew 5:17-20
Jesus says, “17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 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.”
We’re learning that the heart of the message that Jesus is teaching on the mountain revolves around the fact that the righteousness of the religious leaders was insufficient for salvation. Jesus’ next 9 points is a categorical rejection of the practices and teachings of the Pharisees and other religious leaders.
Why is this a big deal?
Because true righteousness goes deeper than religion realizes.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, e and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment.
Jesus is saying, it’s not that you murdered someone, it’s that you possessed the thought that leads to murder that causes you to be unrighteous.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ j 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
It’s not that you didn’t act on lustful and sinful desires, the fact that you thought about it that makes you guilty of adultery. Six times Jesus says something to the effect of, “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you”
Religious teachers had incorrectly defined, and were teaching others how to make themselves right before God, Jesus on the other hand taught that the lines for righteousness were incorrect and unattainable by following religious laws.
The disciples on the mountain that day were probably thinking the same thing you’re thinking right now, “I could never live up to these standards” which is exactly the point that Jesus is drawing. You can’t live up to God’s standards for righteousness, which is why He threw you a lifeline in the form of Jesus, His Son. 1 John 1:8-10 says,
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
also, Paul teaches us in Romans 3:21,22
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
So now what?
Break yourself before Jesus and He will forgive your sins and you will be justified through God, your heavenly Father. Your righteousness is a joke, you are a sinful person in the sight of what is truly righteousness in the sight of God. The prophet Isaiah said it best in Isaiah 64:6,
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
This message is not intended to beat you up, it’s intended to break you down. To show you that the only way to live for God, is to live for Jesus and the only way to live for Jesus, is to confess your sins to him and receive His grace. It is by the Grace of God, through His Son Jesus, that we are saved!
How do I live for Jesus? It starts by confessing your sins, make it a priority to pray and read your Bible, submit to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and when you fail and fall short, which you will. Confess your sins, and get back on the path.