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Righteousness Day by Day

The Sermons of Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:57
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Introduction

We have quite a bit to cover today as Jesus unpacks six traditional Laws and applies his brand of righteousness to the Law in comparison with the Pharisaical form of righteousness. And as we have already discussed this practice only served to complicate the Law and makes it overwhelming.
[PRAY]
Father God, I praise your name and welcome your warm embrace as we have gathered together to worship and praise your Holy Name. earnestly seek your leadership and guidance as we serve You and advance the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ in Los Fresnos. Father I ask that you bless me with clarity of mind, precision of speech, and a heart for your people as I bring your message today. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Great Teacher, I ask these things. Amen

I. Living Out Your Righteousness Day by Day - Matthew 5:20

I have talked previously about Matthew 5:20 because it is the central theme to The Sermon on the Mount...
Matthew 5:20 NASB95
20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
I also spoke about how we could only achieve such a lofty goal through the work that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross.
Jesus moves from talking about righteousness in verse 20 directly to applying a righteous view of the Law to our daily lives. Jesus pointed back to the very same Law of Moses that the Pharisees blew up into this massive set of rules to live by.
character > conduct
Remember that Jesus is teaching us here that conduct isn’t the point, but character is at the core of the law.
PRINCIPLE
When we live by a code of righteous conduct, we become like the Pharisees.
When we live by a righteous character, the deeds and actions of righteous conduct flow into our daily lives.
Jesus chooses to highlight six laws that are focused on the way that we relate with others...

A. Murder & Anger - Matthew 5:21-26, Exodus 20:13

Jesus quotes the Ten Commandments here and begins to unpack this law for the disciples… with a righteous life in mind.
Matthew 5:21–26 NASB95
21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. 23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
Recall that Jesus was speaking to His disciples when He spoke these words. He wasn’t very likely sitting in the company of murderers. He was sitting with common people with common problems. But He takes this grand offense of murder and compares it to a much more common practice of getting angry with one’s brother.
How many of us hold anger against our brother, another family member, somebody at work or here at church?
This is not a righteous anger that Jesus is talking about. The anger that Jesus mentions is the kind of anger that boils up inside of us and we nurse it inwardly and hold it grudgingly against our brother.
While He doesn’t equate murder with anger and calling names, He does say that this type of begrudging and quarrelsome behavior makes us guilty enough to deserve the fires of hell.
[Wow!]
In other words, behavior that we would laugh off as insignificant, Jesus would categorize as a big deal.
Jesus is following murder back to its root of anger. He is saying that the root of the sin is not in the murder, but the root is in the anger. So why should we not be held accountable for the root of our sin (anger) rather than the product of our sin (murder)?

B. Adultery & Lust - Matthew 5:27-30, Exodus 20:14

Jesus moves on to another law from the Ten Commandments by quoting Exodus 20:14
This time he takes adultery and connects it with the root sin of lust...
Matthew 5:27–30 NASB95
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 lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
The road to the sin of adultery begins when lust sparks into flame in our heart. In fact it begins with a look. Not just a glance. The word for “look” here is a longing stare, for the purpose of fanning the flame of desire into lust. This “look” has the purpose of feeding the sexual appetite.
This law highlights the sanctity of sex and the right place of marriage which we don’t have time to explore fully today. This law also shows us how the human heart can mislead us and take us down a path that only has one end… the fires of hell.
Sexual sin is a problem for many men and women who have not learned to purify the desires of the heart. We have the power to discipline the actions of our body by limiting our ability to engage in sin.
This takes a strength of will to avert the eyes or to draw back when we find ourselves in tempting situations. But that is exactly what we have to do in order to avoid this type of sin.
Jesus is saying, not only shall you not commit adultery, but when you begin to feel the stirrings of lust, adultery is right around the corner. Paul warned Timothy, his young pastor protege, to run away from these situations...
2 Timothy 2:22 NASB95
22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
And that is exactly what we must do when presented with sexual sin or any other addictive type of sin.

C. Divorce - Matthew 5:31-32

Before we tackle this one, let me just say that our purpose today with this message is not to take a deep dive into the topic of divorce. It is a big topic that affects a lot of people at a deep level. Additionally the topic of Old Testament divorce compared to what Jesus taught can be quite complex.
That being said, Mosaic Law allowed for divorce by requiring the husband to give his ex-wife a legal bill of divorcement. But only if there was some reason for the husband to be ashamed by his wife. This does not necessarily mean that the husband was ashamed by some infidelity on the part of the wife. It simply meant any form of shame.
By now it’s probably not a surprise to you that Jesus took the Mosaic Law to the next level...
Matthew 5:31–32 NASB95
31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Jesus is actually further restricting the terms of divorce to the reason of unchastity… that is to say for reasons of porneias (in Greek)-fornication, immorality, or specifically infidelity.
More clearly put--and the way that we interpret this teaching for our lives today--is that if a husband or wife is married to one who sins against them by having sex outside the marriage, then the one who has been wronged may be released from their marriage vows, free to marry again. However the one who has sinned, would not be considered free to remarry because of their sin.
Again, the heart of the matter here is that Jesus holds husbands to a much higher standard in divorce than the Mosaic Law requires.

D. Swearing Oaths - Matthew 5:33-37; Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2

This is not about cursing, but about swearing oaths or making vows...
Matthew 5:33–37 NASB95
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
This is based in the Levitical Law… specifically he is referring to Leviticus 19:12 and Numbers 30:2… and the message is a command not to swear falsely or make oaths and vows and later to fulfill those vows.
And, yes, you might have noticed that Jesus refers to people swearing by their head or some other body part. The Pharisee practice was to avoid swearing a divine oath to God, but they might even swear by the city of Jerusalem or by heaven to bolster their promise.
We don’t often think today of making false oaths or vows to support our conversation, but we still see it from time to time. A modern day equivalent of this might be to say something like, “May God strike me dead if I’m lying.” or a more common saying in the south, “If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’.” We might even hear someone saying something like “I swear by my mother’s grave.” This is much better said if one swears on the grave of their mother-in-law… Not really. I can’t say that. I have the best mother in law in the world.
Jesus wanted for us to keep our speech based in honesty. A true character does not need “crutches” to prop it up and get people to believe what we are saying. Oaths and vows cannot compensate for poor character.
In fact, this type of speech is just brash bluster. Proverbs 10:19 teaches us to watch out for this kind of behavior...
Proverbs 10:19 NASB95
19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

E. Retaliation & Revenge - Matthew 5:38-42; Leviticus 24:19-22

Jesus speaks to the Levitical Law regarding retaliation and revenge...
Matthew 5:38–42 NASB95
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
The original law regarding retaliation in Leviticus 24 seems quite fair on the surface, but human nature tends to take a wrong and kick the revenge up a notch higher than is required or recommended. This law kept those who were wronged from extorting a greater compensation from the one who wronged them than the offense actually deserved.
Jesus upturned the Levitical Law by asking His followers to be willing to accept loss rather than forcing one to suffer. But quite often we forget this, don’t we? We are so interested in getting what we’re owed that we are willing to force the issue.
But Jesus knows that if we are willing to take the loss, and if we can stand our ground without turning away, then we can also be in a position to help the one who has a need.
PRINCIPLE We often have the opportunity to help those who seek to hurt us.
You’ve heard the saying that “Hurt people hurt people.” Violence and hurting others comes from a position of weakness.
The weak man hurts others and runs away to protect himself.
The strong man can love others while at the same time suffering hurt from them.

F. Love of Enemies - Matthew 5:43-47; Leviticus 19:17-18

The Mosaic Law set out rules for dealing with your enemies. But Jesus, of course, had a deeper message. One that we often forget about in the heat of our emotions when we are wronged.
Matthew 5:43–47 NASB95
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Christian love is not an emotional response. It is an act of the will. This means we have the power within us to make a choice to love those who have wronged us by extending forgiveness. We have the ability to reason beyond our emotional response.
Jesus gave this message much more clearly in Luke 6...
Luke 6:27–36 NASB95
27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Christian love of this type is a mark of spiritual maturity. It shows others that we are willing to walk in the Christian way. It sets us apart as sons of the Father as we read in verse 45.
We are expected by Christ to live above the pettiness of the lost people in this world. Even they can return good for good and return evil for evil.
PRINCIPLE Christ wants us to return good when we receive evil.

II. Wait! Did He Say Perfect? - Matthew 5:48

Finally Jesus claims that we are fully capable of maintaining perfection...
Matthew 5:48 NASB95
48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
That word perfect does not carry a sense of being sinless. You and I both know that because we still live in bodies of flesh and blood that we still have our sinful nature. We are human, prone to mistakes and capable of sin.
No Jesus is not asking us to be sinless, but to be complete and live in the fulness of Christ.
τέλειος
teleios - to be made complete, mature, perfect
being complete of its kind and without defect or blemish
This means that, in Christ we have attained a spiritual maturity, and because of this, we are sons of God. It is by this spiritual maturity that we have the power to resist our sin nature and train our bodies to act in a manner becoming of the name of Christ that we bear.
An analogy that might make sense is a worldly prince who has been given the power to act on behalf of the king, his father. He is not the king, but he has been given a similar authority. It is only by embracing this authority and acting maturely in this authority that he is properly carrying out the authority of the king.
Conclusion
[piano]
You might be here today and realize that you are struggling with some of these sins...
Maybe you have accepted Christ or possibly not… But God has revealed to you that your character is not exactly what He wants it to be...
First things first, if you have not accepted Christ or developed a relationship with Him, then that must be the very first thing. Accepting Christ is the first step on this road to righteousness that we’ve been discussing. It is also the first step to receiving forgiveness for your sins.
If this is you, please raise your hand and let me know you are there. Everybody else please close your eyes and pray for those who are not yet believers.
...
If you know that you have accepted Christ, but you are still struggling with sin, please raise your hand.
Maybe you are feeling the weight of things that you have done in your past, or someone that you have not forgiven, or the weight of sexual sin or adultery or even things that were said during a time you were going through divorce are too heavy for you today. Just let me know that God is working with you. You can come here to the altar to pray quietly or you can speak to me about what’s going on with you today.
We also have prayer counselors in the room today, if you’d like to speak to one of them.
...
I know that we also have people here in the room who are visiting with us… some of you have visited for quite some time. Maybe the Lord is leading you to baptism or possibly you’d like to join our church family, but you have put it off. If God is leading you to unite with our church, then I’d invite you to respond today.
I’ll be standing here at the front as we sing. Please come if you have a need.
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