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Sermon: Matthew 5:21-30

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Dear Lord. Thank you for this opportunity to preach on the words of Jesus. Thank you for glimpses into such great goodness and such profound truth. I pray that I might not be swayed by my own agenda, my pride or my presumptions. But I ask that I might be able to help people hear what you are saying to them, as individuals and as your church. May you be glorified and honoured and may your kingdom come. Amen.

Saint or sinner?

Are you a saint? Or a sinner?
I read an article by Terry Virgo, and he said, ‘We are called ‘saints’, holy ones, and are certainly no longer regarded as ‘sinners’.’
And that’s true, if we are talking about our identity. If we believe in Jesus and follow him, then we are transformed. As it says in , ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith...’
But Terry Virgo also says in the same article, ‘I sin as a saint with all the sadness and inappropriateness of it.’ We have an identity in Christ, and what I’m saying this morning doesn’t undermine the security - we have found life in Jesus. And it is because we have found life in Jesus that he wants us to deal with sin well.
The thing is, God knows that Sin destroys us.
whoever you are, however you label yourself, Christian…saint…sinner…whoever!
This is true of all human beings. Sin destroys us. It destroys the life that God gives us.
As Paul mentioned last week, the ‘A’ life is the good life that God is calling us to. A good life. Not a broken or sinful life.

Reading - Matthew 5:21-30

"God is more greatly grieved by the sins of those who claim to know him than by those who know him not." ~ Rosaria Butterfield
Rosaria says some wonderful things. She is a parent like me.
When your children do things that are wrong it grieves you.
They hurt themselves.
They hurt others...
...Of course God is grieved by the sins of his children! Sin destroys us!
When we are faced with the reality of our own sinful failures we can go one of two ways, we can (i) excuse ourselves or (ii) we can repent.
We might excuse ourselves by:-
We might excuse ourselves by:-
thinking of rules - when they apply or not
saying ‘I didn’t actually do something that bad!’
But Jesus calls us to repent.
We aren’t here to think about rules - what we are allowed to do or not.

Let’s talk about anger!

I’m not sure how many of us would admit that we feel anger.
The problem with anger, such as that described here, is that it is anger with someone else!
Anger isn’t something we readily admit to, partly because its not a cultural norm for us to express our anger.
I don’t know about you, but when I feel angry, and someone were to ask me, ‘are you angry’
I’d probably say, ‘no…I’m upset’.
Or I’d highlight that the other person did this...‘so I’m feeling disappointed’.
What about negative feelings about other people?
What about contempt? Raca probably meant something like ‘numbskull’, or ‘empty head’.
Well, we might admit to ‘righteous anger’.
This is just ‘dissing’ someone. They aren’t worth anything.
`OK…so lets play the game Jesus plays:-
What about negative feelings about other people?
What about those times we dwell on what somebody else has said, and we wish we could answer back!?
Do you remember Cain and Abel? Abel gave the best of the best of his flock as an offering to God. And God was pleased.
Cain gave some fruits of the soil as an offering to God. And God was not pleased.
And Cain got angry. Cain got angry…with Abel? …with God!
He didn’t give a good offering. God wasn’t pleased. Then he got angry with God! Disaster lurks!!
And God says, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Ge 4:6-8
“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
The New International Version. (2011). (). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
What happened? He didn’t rule over sin. He thought he knew better. Probably didn’t even recognise there was a problem with his anger. So it got the better of him. He murdered Abel.
Jesus is telling us the way it is.
Upstream of murder is anger with somebody.
And God might say to us, ‘Why are you angry?’ Is he saying that to you this morning? Don’t let it rule over you. Ask the Spirit to help you.
Don’t pretend you know better. Don’t excuse anger as ‘feeling upset’, or ‘feeling disappointed’ with someone.
Maybe you need to recognise those negative thoughts about somebody else for what they are?
Don’t for a minute think that this passage is telling us to not use the word ‘fool’! If you do that then you’re making the same mistake as Jesus’ listeners. You’re just worrying about what’s allowed, and not what’s best.
That’s the key issue: when you’re upset with someone, frustrated, disappointed, maybe feeling ‘righteous anger’ then what’s God’s best for you in that situation?
God cares about our morality because he loves us. And sin destroys us.
Its interesting that with all this talk of being angry with somebody else, when Jesus comes to talk about the practical application he says,
‘if you remember your brother has something against you’!
The responsibility for fixing it might well be with the one who isn’t angry at all!
Isn’t that a scary thought…the one who is happily in church worshipping is the one who should be fixing the relationship problem.
It seems that God thinks we should care more for each other’s relationship with God more than our own!!
Worship that is acceptable to God cannot take place against a background of broken relationships. (esp 4-5)
So, in conclusion, fix the problem with anger, because if you don’t you won’t get out until you’ve paid the last penny’!
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