22 October 2013

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 5

Did you miss my BSF post last week? Did you even notice that I was gone? :o) Chris, Avery, my parents, my sister and I were enjoying the warm sandy beaches of the Bahamas, so I missed my BSF class last Monday night. Here’s a brief recap. Last week, we studied the beginning of Matthew 5. In this chapter, Jesus began His famous Sermon on the Mount. He was teaching His disciples about a variety of topics, and a large crowd of people listened to these teachings.

The teachings in the Sermon on the Mount show us that God calls every believers to display Christ’s characteristics. Through this sermon, Jesus taught His followers a new way of living life and a new way of dealing with sin. He emphasized heart attitudes and motives in addition to actions. This week in the rest of Matthew 5, Jesus tells us to beware of the warning signs so we don’t fall into sin.

This chapter begins with Jesus testifying that the Old Testament is true and useful. Many people today might not agree with that, but let me explain why the Old Testament is valid. The Old Testament includes the moral law, the civil law and the ceremonial law.

The moral law was the Ten Commandments. These are direct commands from God, and we still must obey these laws today.

The civil law was laws for daily living. Some of the Old Testament civil laws don’t necessarily apply to our daily living today, but God still calls us to obey the civil laws our local, state and federal governments have established over us.

The ceremonial law was worship laws that pointed to Christ’s coming. These laws no longer are valid because Jesus came to earth to die for us. But by observing communion, believers recognize Christ’s fulfillment of the ceremonial law.

Jesus said that He did not come to change the Old Testament but to change the extra teachings the Pharisees added to the Law. The Pharisees were seen as the holiest and most religious people. They knew the truth and taught the truth to others, but they did not let the truth reach into their hearts and change their lives. This is the same for us today...we also need to live God’s truth in our lives, not simply know the truth in our heads.

We cannot gain righteousness through the moral law, the civil law or the ceremonial law. The only way we can gain righteousness is through the righteousness of Jesus (Galatians 2:19-21).

The Pharisees taught that righteousness results from words and deeds. Jesus taught that righteousness centers around our hearts. The Pharisees saw sin as outward action. Jesus saw sin as the attitude of our hearts.

In the rest of Matthew 5, Jesus gives six illustrations about Christians and the Law:
  • Anger – Jesus said anger toward someone is the same as murder. When I recall something, stop everything I’m doing to be reconciled with someone. Whether I was wronged or whether I did the wrong, I should be the one who takes the first step to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • Adultery – This is not a brief glace at someone. This is looking with the intent to fulfill my inner sexual appetite. When this red flag appears, take drastic measures. Do not allow this to infect your life.
  • Divorce – Divorce is not from God. God hates divorce, but He does not hate divorced people.
  • Vows – Let your yes be yes and your no be no. If I have to say “I mean it,” that means I everything else I have said are lies. Your word reveals who you are.
  • Revenge – Leave room for God’s wrath. The law in Leviticus was focused on fairness, not paying more than what the crime was worth.
  • Love your enemies – Love the people who hate you. Pray for the people who hate you.
We can’t do any of this on our own. We need God’s help.

Things to Think About
  • Am I allowing God to help me put His Word into action in my life?
  • Am I surrendering my will to God’s? Am I soaking in His Word? Am I serving wherever He calls me
  • My thoughts and heart are not hidden from God.
  • Temptation is not sin. But willfully placing ourselves in the way of temptation eventually may result in sinful acts.
  • God’s boundaries keep us aligned with Him. Where have I stepped outside of God’s boundaries? Will I ask for His forgiveness and return to living inside His boundaries?