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Chuck Smith :: Sermon Notes for Matthew 5:20

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Intro. We now come to the first illustration by which Jesus explains what He meant when He said, "Except your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you in no case shall enter the Kingdom of heaven."
A. Did not the Bible say this?
1. Indeed it does.
GEN 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
EXO 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
EXO 21:12 He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
EXO 21:13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver [him] into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.
EXO 21:14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.
NUM 35:12 And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.
2. The error in the teaching was this. In the 10 commandments the sixth commandment declared "Thou shalt not kill."
3. In the amplification of that command in Exodus 21:12 the law said, "He that smites a man so that he die, shall be surely put to death."
4. Then distinctions were made between murder and manslaughter.
5. If it was accidental, there were established cites of refuge where you could flee in order to stand trial before the judges.
6. The Pharisees in their teaching put the two separated passages together and declared if you murdered someone you would be in danger of the judgment.
7. The only thought was their facing the trial before men. There was no thought of their guilt before God.
B. The way it was being taught was that if you beat someone to death you would be in danger of having to go to court to be judged.
1. It was all a physical thing.
2. Most people could listen to that teaching and feel quite comfortable saying within themselves, "I have never killed anyone in a fit of rage or anger."
C. What Jesus is teaching is that God who is the final judge looks on the heart. He looks at the anger that is in your heart. He reads your thoughts that say, "I wish they were dead."
1. So if you are angry with your brother without a cause, according the teaching of Jesus, you are guilty of violating the command, "Thou shalt not kill" and are in danger of the judgment i.e. the civil courts.
a. In the Greek, there are two words for anger.
1. Thumas which is to flare up. Like a match that has just been lit. It soon dies down.
2. The other is orge which is to nurse the anger to keep it burning, it is brooding over an issue.
b. You might respond, "But I have good cause to be angry because of what they have done to me."
1. That phrase without cause is not in some of the old manuscripts, so that in many of the newer versions they have left it out.
2. You may seek to find refuge in the loophole but there is a chance that the loophole is not there.
c. Just back a little they heard Jesus say:
MAT 5:11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
MAT 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
d. A little further on they will hear Jesus say:`
MAT 5:44 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;
2. "Whoever will say to his brother Raca."
a. Raca the word comes directly from the Greek for it is a word that is untranslatable into English. It is more the describing the tone of voice. It was a word of utter disdain, it was like saying, "You are a brainless idiot!" "He is totally worthless." It is utter contempt.
b. In a sense it is saying, "He should not exist." He is just taking up space on this crowded planet.
c. If you have utter disdain or contempt for a person this is really more reprehensible to God than just being angry, and you are thus in danger of the council.
d. This was the religious council (Sunedrion.)
e. In Israel in those days, they had a civil court and a spiritual court.
f. Jesus was condemned first in the spiritual court, and they then brought Him to the civil court, in order to get a sentence of death by crucifixion.
g. It is one thing to be guilty before men, it is something else to be guilty before God. The council had the self imposed authority to pronounce you guilty before God.
h. Jesus stood and was condemned before this council.
i. Later the disciples on many occasions were arrested and brought before the council.
j. They were convened to judge on spiritual issues.
1. In the book of Acts on several occasions the Apostles were brought before the council.
2. Stephen stood before the council, and as the result of his witness to them was taken out of the city and was stoned to death.
k. To the Jew it was worse to be condemned by the council than by the Roman authority.
3. "Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, (moros) from which we get our word moron shall be in danger of hell fire." (gehenna)
a. This speaks of the highest court of all, the supreme, supreme court. Only God can consign a man to gehenna.
b. You cannot appeal your case to a higher court, the judgment is final.
c. Just what is so bad about calling a man a fool?
d. The idea is to destroy a man's reputation through gossip.
e. To spread stories about a person that totally destroys their character.
4. You may not have physically killed that person, but you are a murderer in your heart.
A. Therefore, the therefore should always cause us to ask, "wherefore is the therefore." It refers us back to what was just stated. It is a word of conclusion, usually calling for some response. What is my response?
1. If I bring my gift to the altar.
a. In those days they would bring their gifts to God and lay them on the altar.
b. This is how I would approach God through the sacrifice on the altar.
c. If I am about ready to place my gift on the altar and suddenly I remember that my brother has ought against me. I am to leave my gift there, and first go and be reconciled to my brother, and then come and offer my gift.
d. This is a case where the closest distance between two points is not a straight line.
e. The closest way to God is by the offended brother's home.
2. If you are on the way to the court with your brother, agree with him quickly. (Jesus is suggesting that arbitration is often better than taking your chances in court.)
3. The picture that He seems to be drawing here is going to court for a debt.
a. In those days the paying of debts was very important.
b. You could not plead that you just did not have the money to pay, for the court would order you to be sold as a slave to pay your debt.
c. The amount of time you would be a slave would be equivalent to the wages that you could earn in that time.
4. Come to an agreement with your adversary, lest you be brought before the judges who will deliver you to the officers, and you will not be released until the uttermost farthing has been paid.
5. Unresolved legal issues can bring a long time of mental stress where you begin to wish all kinds of harm upon your adversary.
Sermon Notes for Matthew 5:20 ← Prior Section
Sermon Notes for Matthew 5:21 Next Section →
Sermon Notes for Malachi 1:2 ← Prior Book
Sermon Notes for Mark 1:40 Next Book →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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