The Gospel of Matthew: Adultery.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27–28 ESV)

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus continued to quote from the Old Testament (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:14). He amplified the extent of obedience God required. In today’s text, Jesus addressed the subject of adultery.

“Christ’s exposition of the seventh commandment in Matthew 5:27–30 indicates how the biblical teaching on adultery goes contrary to much of what our society wants to tell us about sex. Most people, at least in our culture, are unlikely to have consummated an extramarital affair. Single people are not even capable of committing adultery in the narrow sense of an affair unless they are sleeping with a married person. However, few, if any, could ever say that they have never looked at another person with lust in their hearts. We live in a pornographic society that relishes and encourages all manner of illicit sexual activity,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

Adultery is not only the breaking of the marriage vows by engaging in sexual behavior with another individual other than one’s spouse. Adultery involves lustful, or desirous, thoughts, emotions and willful intent. The issue is not only bodily behavior but also the condition of the soul. The phrase lustful intent (Gk. pros to epithymēsai autēn) literally means “for the purpose of lusting for her.” 

“Once again the Pharisees’ teaching was concerned only with the outward act. They said the only way one could commit adultery was through an act of sexual union. They correctly quoted the commandment, but they missed its point. Adultery begins within one’s heart (looking lustfully) and follows in the act. The lustful desire, in the heart, as wrong as the act, indicates that one is not rightly related to God,” explains biblical commentator.  

Adultery involves any sexual activity, actual or voyeuristic, that violates God’s standard, which is a heterosexual, monogamous relationship between a binary male and female. Isn’t it interesting that such qualifications need to be made in the current secular and religious culture?

“Adultery was considered an extremely serious offense (cf. Ex. 20:14) because, in addition to violating another person, it broke the marriage covenant (Mal. 2:14) that was a reflection of the relationship between God and his people,” explains Dr. John MacArthur.

“Lust begins in the heart, the center of a person’s identity and will. It is not enough to maintain physical purity alone; one must also guard against engaging mentally in an act of unfaithfulness. Jesus is not adding to OT law but correctly interpreting it, for even in the Ten Commandments God had required purity of heart (Ex. 20:17; cf. 1 Sam. 16:7Ps. 19:14; 24:4).”  

As it is with anything God has created, including the male and female species, the fallen world seeks to remove itself from the Lord’s authority and establish its own. Any rejection by anyone to anything the sinful, woke culture advocates is met with swift and strong rebuke; this includes eventual censure of such objections. This is particularly evident in the area of sexuality.

“Lust is not sexual desire in and of itself, for sexual desire is part of God’s good creation and the consummation of it is entirely lawful within marriage (Gen. 2:23–24). Moreover, lust is not the mere recognition of physical attractiveness. The Lord made us to recognize beauty, and Scripture itself speaks, without breaking God’s law, of the beauty and handsomeness of some of the people it describes (Gen. 29:171 Sam. 16:12; 25:3). Instead, lust may be defined as the desire to engage in or enjoy illicit sexual activity. Given this definition, a whole host of things qualify as lust, including the viewing of pornography, adulterous fantasies, homosexual behavior, incest, sexual abuse, rape, bestiality, and other perversions. In prohibiting lust, our Creator prohibits all of these things,” concludes Dr. Sproul.

May the Lord give each of us a spirit of repentance and faith in living for Him. This is especially so in the area of human sexuality that is obedient to God’s Word.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of Matthew: Anger. Part Three.

25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:25–26 ESV)

Jesus taught that it is not only sufficient to confess anger as sin, but also to make things right with an offended brother or sister in Christ. This involves not only our discipline within the believing community but also in the greater societal community. How quickly must reconciliation be done by the believer with their accuser?

“While Matthew 5:24-25 deals with the reconciliation of an offended brother, vv.25-26 appear to address the problem of conflict in larger society; in this case, legal conflict. Christians are to work for reconciliation in all areas of life,” states Dr. R. C. Sproul.   

Jesus taught the believer was to quickly come to terms with an accuser. The phrase come to terms (εἰμί εὐνοέω; eimi eumoeo) means to settle the case. It is an emphatic command involving not only the individual’s attitude but also behavior. In other words, the entire person. A believer in Christ cannot achieve reconciliation if they are insincere. If they are sincere, then they will do all they can to achieve reconciliation. See Romans 12:9-21.

“The importance of reconciliation is illustrated by the example of the person who is about to be judged in court. Not to be reconciled will have disastrous consequences on a human level but much more so if one is not reconciled to God,”  explains Dr. John MacArthur.

“Such wrongful attitudes should be dealt with and made right. Reconciliation between brothers must be accomplished whether the “innocent” (5:23–24) or the “offending” (vv. 25–26) brother takes the first step. Without such reconciliation, gifts presented at the altar mean nothing: Even on the way to a court trial a defendant should seek to clear up any such problem. Otherwise the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court of 70 members, would send him to prison and he would be penniless,” explains commentator Louis A. Barbieri.

Have you ever been in conflict with someone? Perhaps, it may have been with a company that you hired, or your insurance company did, in order to correct a problem, or damage, to your automobile or house. The result may have been litigation between the insurance company and the organization they hired on your behalf; and you are caught in the middle of the situation.  

As much as it depends on you personally, be at peace with all people (Romans 12:18). Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of Matthew: Anger. Part Two.

23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” Matthew 5:23–24 ESV)

Jesus taught that it is not only sufficient to confess anger as sin, but also to make things right with an offended brother or sister in Christ. This involves not only our discipline within the believing community but also in the greater societal community. Today’s text addresses the former.

When we enter into the place for corporate worship, and remember that there is an unreconciled issue with another believer in Christ, then we need to immediately resolve to reconcile with that individual. Our worship will not honor and glorify God if we fail to correct the sinful situation. Reconciliation in this situation brings honor and glory to God. It becomes an example of worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

“Reconciliation with the person who has something against you must take precedence even over offering one’s gift in worship. The one who initiates the reconciliation here is the one who has wronged the other person,” explains Dr. John MacArthur.

It should be noted that today’s text does not say if you have something against another brother in Christ, but rather if another believer in Christ has an issue with you. Individuals are quick to recognize when someone offends them, but slow to acknowledge when they offend others. We need to do what is necessary.

However, it must be admitted that there are people who become offended whenever someone does something in which they disagree or find fault. It may be eating red meat, wearing shorts, listening to contemporary Christian music, playing nine holes of golf on Sunday, or not only watching television but even having one in your home. These individuals always have an opinion, and in their view their opinion is always correct.

“Judaism stressed reconciliation between individuals; God would not accept an outward offering if one had oppressed or mistreated one’s neighbor and did not make it right. In the Old Testament God accepted only sacrifices offered with a pure heart toward him and one’s neighbor (Gen 4:4–7; Prov. 15:8; Is 1:10–15; Jer. 6:20; Amos 5:21–24),” explains commentator Craig Keener.

There will always be self-appointed legalists who believe it is there mission and ministry to point out the faults of others. Discernment from the Lord is needful in such situations and with such individuals. Jesus encountered them and so will we. Let us resolve not to be one.

I encourage y0u to read Romans 12:9-21. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of Matthew: Anger. Part One.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21–22 ESV)

Beginning with today’s text, Jesus begins an extended treatise involving six practical examples of godly living. If an individual is truly converted by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, the following scenarios provide ample ways to prove such a conversion exists. True conversion results in true obedience.

There is a recurring refrain that Jesus used. It was, ““You have heard that it was said”…” But I say to you” (vs. 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 45). Jesus was not altering the authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. Rather, He was invoking His own authoritative clarification and application of the biblical commands. In contrast to the rabbinical teachings, Jesus claimed His own divine authority.

The first example involved the subject of murder (Ex. 20:13). Murder (φονεύω; phoneuo) in this context is a future, active indicative verb. It means to kill someone with premeditation of intent and malice ((Matt. 5:21; 19:18; 23:31, 35; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 13:9; James 2:11; 4:2; 5:6). Whoever does such an act is liable for judgment. Murder then, as now, was/is a capital offense or crime.

However, Jesus went beyond the act and addressed the attitude behind such violent behavior. He explained that anger and insulting language towards another individual created in God’s image is just as wrong. Jesus taught that the angry attitude was as bad as the act.

Jesus’ warning extended to even insulting language.” Furthermore, becoming angry and assuming a position of superiority over another by calling him a derogatory name (such as the Aram. Raca or You fool!) demonstrates sinfulness of the heart. A person with such a sinful heart obviously is a sinner and therefore is headed for the fire of hell (“hell” is lit., “Gehenna”; cf. Matt. 5:29–30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; 7 of the 11 references to Gehenna are in Matt.). “Gehenna” means valley of Hinnom, the valley south of Jerusalem where a continually burning fire consumed the city refuse. This became an apt name for the eternal punishment of the wicked,” explains Dr. John Walvoord.

Have you ever been angry with someone? Have you ever insulted anyone? I’m sure we can recall when people have been angry and insulted us. However, the questions posed are about our anger and sinful language. Confess these sins in light of the probing and convicting truth of Scripture.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of Matthew: An Inner Obedience of the Soul; Revisited.

19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19–20 ESV)

In light of yesterday’s blog, I sensed the need for further clarification regarding Jesus’ statement that the believer’s righteousness must exceed that of religious leaders. This would include the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ day and pastors, missionaries and seminary professors in our own.

The following are some insightful quotes I discovered from several qualified biblical scholars; both past and present. I pray that you will find them edifying and beneficial.

“As the sermon progresses, we realize that Jesus did not expect His disciples to surpass the scribes and Pharisees at their own game; rather, He redefined righteousness. The scribes and Pharisees sought to codify righteousness, prescribing proper behavior in minute detail for every foreseeable situation,” explains commentator Daniel M Doriani. “Jesus protested this view of righteousness, which was legalistic. He addressed the heart, the mind, and the motives of obedience.”

“Whoever shall break, Christ here speaks expressly, of the commandments of life, or the ten words, which all the children of God ought to take as the rule of their life, He therefore declares that they are false and deceitful teachers. They do not restrain their disciples within obedience to the law. They are unworthy to occupy a place in the Church. They weaken, in the slightest degree, the authority of the law; and, on the other hand, that they are honest and faithful ministers of God, who recommended, both by word and by example, the keeping of the law,” explains John Calvin.

“Neither Jesus nor Paul had a problem with the law. Paul wrote that his gospel of grace upholds and establishes the law (Rom. 3:31)—even God’s laws in their negative form, since the “grace of God . . . teaches us to say ‘No’” (Titus 2:11–12 NIV). And remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17–19? Our attitude to the law is a litmus test of our relationship to the kingdom of God,” pastor and teacher Dr. Sinclair Fergusson expounds.  

“So what is the problem? The real problem is that we do not understand grace. If we did, we would also realize why John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace,” could write, “Ignorance of the nature and design of the law is at the bottom of most religious mistakes.” There is a deep issue here. In Scripture, the person who understands grace loves law,” concludes Dr. Ferguson.

May each of us today who identify ourselves as believers in Christ echo the words of the psalmist who wrote, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97 (ESV)

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of Matthew: An Inner Obedience of the Soul.

19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19–20 ESV)

The examination of Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount continues with today’s text. Upon Jesus’ declaration that He came to fulfill Old Testament Scripture and not abolish it, He then transitioned to a warning to anyone who would consider doing the opposite; abolishing the Old Testament instead of obeying it.

The word least (ἐλάχιστος; elachistos) means the trivial or the insignificant. It refers to the unimportant. Jesus stated that anyone who would disobey or abolish the least significant of the Old Testament commandments would by comparison be called least in the kingdom of heaven. This warning included those who would teach others to do likewise. This was a statement directed to the Jewish religious leaders; the Pharisees. Contrastingly, anyone who would obey the Old Testament, and teach others to do the same, would be called great (μέγας; megas) or important in the kingdom of heaven.

“These commandments refers to all the commands in the OT (although many will be applied differently once their purpose has been “fulfilled” in Christ; v. 17). The rabbis recognized a distinction between “light” commandments (such as tithing garden produce) and “weighty” commandments (such as those concerning idolatry, murder, etc.). Jesus demands a commitment to both the least and the greatest commandments yet condemns those who confuse the two (cf. 23:23–24). The entire OT is the expression of God’s will but is now to be taught according to Jesus’ interpretation of its intent and meaning,” explains one commentator.

Jesus then concluded that unless an individual’s righteousness was greater than the scribes and Pharisees, there was no hope to even enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was calling His disciples, then and now, to a different quality of righteousness. This was a righteousness not centered on just outward conformity to the Law of God, but also rooted to inner purity; an inner obedience of the soul.

“They (the scribes and Pharisees) took pride in outward conformity to many extra-biblical regulations but still had impure hearts (see 23:5, 23, 27–28). But kingdom righteousness works from the inside out because it first produces changed hearts and new motivations (Rom. 6:172 Cor. 5:17Gal. 5:22–23Phil. 2:12Heb. 8:10), so that the actual conduct of Jesus’ followers does in fact “[exceed] the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.”

“Jesus did not criticize the Pharisees for their strict observance of the Law but rather for their emphasis on outward conformity to it without a proper inner attitude,” states Dr. R.C. Sproul.

What about you? Is your righteousness simply an outward conformity to God’s Word when people are observing you in public? Or is it also a heartfelt and inner obedience to God even when you are alone? May the Holy Spirit reveal to each of us an honest evaluation.

Soli deo Gloria!  

The Gospel of Matthew: Fulfillment.

“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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV)

There are those who preach, teach and believe that the Old Testament is not applicable to believers in Christ today. In other words, many are convicted that all that matters is to be a student of the New Testament. They say the Old Testament is not important.

This is not a new heresy. In church history it was called Marcionism.  Marcionism is the belief that the Old Testament is not authoritative in matters of Christian doctrine and morals, Marcion, the son of a bishop from the first century, was one of the most successful heretics in the early church. He grew in prominence for preaching a version of the faith that distanced itself from the Old Testament.

Jesus Christ would not have agreed with Marcion. In today’s text, Jesus affirmed that He did not come to abolish the Old Testament Law or the Prophets. Jesus neither gave a new law or modified the old one. Rather, Jesus explained and fulfilled the moral significance of the Mosaic Law and the Prophets; the entirety of the Old Testament.

To abolish (καταλύω; katalyō) means to infinitely destroy and to demolish. In this context, it refers to the destruction of the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus refuted the very notion that is what He had come to earth to accomplish.

Jesus stated that not even the most minute punctuation in the Hebrew language, an iota or a dot, would pass from the Law until all the Old Testament revealed would be fulfilled.

“It is necessary to appreciate the abiding truthfulness of the law of Moses because Jesus is the fulfillment of this law (5:17; see Rom. 10:4). Jesus does not nullify it, but comes so that everything in it will be accomplished (Matt. 5:18). He does this through His entire representative obedience. Thus, though the teaching of Jesus is challenging to the core, Jesus did not come to encumber us with impossibly heavy burdens (11:28–30; see 23:4). Only Jesus, the last Adam and perfect Son of God, is able to fulfill God’s law perfectly (3:15) and therefore is able to pour out His blood for the forgiveness of sins (26:28; see 1:21; 20:28),” explains commentator Brandon Crowe.

“This does not mean Christians should have no concern to follow God’s law. Christ frees us to obey it. Jesus’ disciples are called to a genuine love of God and neighbor (22:37–40; see 7:21). This is a lofty calling, but Jesus Himself embodied it throughout His life. Through His obedience, Jesus releases us from the burden of trying to earn our salvation. We are to be merciful because of the mercy Jesus has shown to us (5:7; 9:13; 12:7; 23:23; see Hos. 6:6Matt. 18:33). In sum, the law of God is an abiding witness to the person and work of Christ, and through Him we are able to call this law our delight,” concludes Crowe.

The Old Testament is completely trustworthy. It is the Word of God.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of Matthew: You are the Light of the World.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

What is the Christian’s identity? In other words, what is the believer’s identity in Christ? Thus far, Jesus described believers in Christ as the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). However, that is not where the direct comparison concludes. Believers in Christ are also the light of the world.

The word light (φῶς; phos) refers particularly to the light of the sun. It may also refer to the heavenly bodies (James 1:17). Light is indispensable to life. Light is associated with life (cf. John 1:4), and as universal beneficence, with God and the Messiah (cf. John 1:8, 8:12), &c. (cf. John 12:36, Eph. 5:8): τὸ φῶς, the (bright) fire (Mark 14:54, Luke. 22:56).

“The second metaphor describes believers as light in this world. I have a common first-century lamp that was used in Jewish households to provide light in their homes. The lamp is small and unassuming. One day, I put a small amount of oil in the lamp with a wick, turned off the lights, and lit the wick to experience how people in the first century, without the benefit of modern electricity, lit their homes when it was dark. This lamp, though small, enabled me to see throughout the entire room. Jesus expresses how inappropriate it would be in a dark place to hide a lamp under a bowl. The intention of light is to provide a way for people to see where they are going (John 11:9–10). This is precisely what Jesus is after in calling believers “light”: they show people the way to salvation in a dark world,” explains Pastor Christopher J. Gordon.

Believers in Christ are to display the light of God’s Gospel in an increasingly dark world. There cannot be any compromise. The Apostle John stated, This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:5-7 ESV)

“A godly life gives convincing testimony of the saving power of God. That brings him glory. Cf. 1 Pet. 2:12,” explains Dr. John MacArthur.

We live in a dark and evil world. Let us brightly shine the light of the Gospel.

Soli deo Gloria!