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Sinners living with Sinners

Sermon on the Mount  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

How many of you have heard the “Golden Rule” being to treat others the way that you want to be treated? This is a rule that is often taught in schools and understandably so, if someone treats others the way that they would like to be treated then people will treat others fairly well. This is a standard that all people can live by regardless of your faith/beliefs. With that said, we know that Scripture calls us to an even higher standard! Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount has been turning the world upside down and continues to do so in our text today as He shows that the commands of the law are not necessarily wrong, but they should lead to a change from the inside out rather than simple external action. D.A. Carson notes that in there exists an overwhelming call to defeat sin. “We are to deal drastically with sin. We must not pamper it, flirt with it, enjoy nibbling a little of it around the edges. We are to hate it, crush it, dig it out… sin leads to hell. And that is the ultimate reason why sin must be taken seriously.”
As humans, we all are sinners. We live with sinners. We come to church to worship the King with other sinners. Dealing with other sinners is how we spend the majority of our time on this planet because everyone is a sinner! gives us several key things to keep in mind regarding dealing with fellow sinners and our own personal sin.
Some people live with the motto of an “eye for an eye” or maybe returning good with good. After all, these are normal human things! However, returning good for evil, that is divine! That is the perspective of Jesus Christ and what we see throughout . Whenever our heart is genuinely changed from the inside out, we are able to be salt and light in our world and are able to think, speak and act more like Jesus Christ. The way that this is possible is not our of our own works or effort, rather it is all about grace that we receive from our Lord and Savior.
Martin Luther King Jr. made a great point whenever he said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” As sinners living with other sinners, we must be light. We must be changed and we must live differently.
Matthew 5:21–23 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,
Matthew 5:21–48 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:21-
Matthew 5:24–26 NASB95
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.
Matthew 5:24-26
Matthew 5:27–29 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.
Matthew 5:27-
Matthew 5:30–32 NASB95
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. 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.
Matthew 5:30-
Matthew 5:33–36 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.
Matthew 5:33-
Matthew 5:37–40 NASB95
37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. 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.
Matthew 5:37-
Matthew 5:41–44 NASB95
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. 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,
Matthew 5:45–47 NASB95
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?
Matthew 5:41-
Matthew 5:48 NASB95
48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Lots of Scripture to unpack here. Our outline helps break this into 4 sections.

Live right with your Friends (21-26)

In this passage there are 6 antitheses as Jesus illustrates the greater righteousness that He demands from His disciples. He says that the people have heard something but that Jesus requires something even greater. As we looked at last week in , the scribes and pharisees were very righteous in the eyes of other people because they kept all the 613 laws or at least attempted to do so. With that said, they were not “righteous” in the eyes of Christ. Their external actions were not what God demanded, He demands internal obedience. This is the idea that Jesus gets at in this passage during these “You have heard, But I say to you...” statements.
This opening section opens with Jesus calling His followers to live according to a higher standard. The law was clear in that it was wrong to commit murder and that there was a consequence for doing so. This is basic human reasoning. Killing someone is wrong. If you murder someone then you will suffer the consequences. You can go up to the most adamant atheist and ask them if killing someone is wrong and worthy of punishment and they would likely reply by saying that it is certainly wrong and worthy of being punished. You don’t have to be a Christian to understand that murder is wrong. However, Jesus raises the bar up a notch and says in verse 22 that being angry to someone then you are liable to judgment. This is troubling for us because we’ve all been angry with people before. But Jesus isn’t done yet. He continues to intensify his argument by then saying that insulting your brother/sister makes you liable to the council (probably the Sanhedrin - the Jewish leadership) and finally if you call your brother/sister a fool then you are now liable to God’s judgment and to hell itself.
While the punishment on earth for being murdering someone is not the same as the earthly punishment for being angry with someone or perhaps calling them a fool, however, the punishment from an eternal perspective is similar.
The final insult given by Jesus, calling someone a fool, is the Greek word “Moros” where we get the word “moron” and this is far worse than calling someone dumb or an idiot. This word is found throughout Matthew (7:26, 23:17, 25:2-3) and is used to describe someone who is not a part of the kingdom of God. Calling someone a moron, in , means that you are saying that they are not a Christian, they are not saved and they are going to hell.
If you do this to another person, you are facing judgment by the King of Kings. Does this seem a little extreme to you? Probably. It would have sounded extreme to Jesus’ listeners as well! Jesus’ message sounds extreme because He is showing that the standards of the Kingdom are far greater than the standards of this fallen, sinful world. Our world is concerned with equality and external actions, Christ is concerned with the condition of our heart which is the true source of our actions.
So, we must watch our heart in order to live right with others.
Christ continues in verses 23-26 and says that we should get ourselves right before we offer things to the Lord. He gives two illustrations in these 4 verses: financial giving and differences with others.
Before we gather to worship God, to sing songs, to study the Word and to give our gifts to Him, we must ready our heart and do some careful inspection. tells us that
2 Corinthians 9:7 NASB95
7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
tells us that God loves a giver with a clear conscience. First, we must be reconciled to others before coming to worship God through our offering. D.A. Carson is direct when he says, “Forget the worship service and be reconciled to your brother; and only then worship God. Men love to substitute ceremony for integrity, purity, and love; but Jesus will have none of it.”
Forget the worship service and be reconciled to your brother; and only then worship God. Men love to substitute ceremony for integrity, purity, and love; but Jesus will have none of it
The second illustration in verses 25-26 deal with settling our differences with others. One of the hardest things to do as humans is to disagree with others and to settle our differences peacefully and with love. The illustration used by Jesus is not simply people disagreeing over something little like what color carpet is in the sanctuary or whether we should sing 2 verses of a song or every verse of the song, those are extremely small things that do not matter in the scheme of eternity. The disagreement in verses 25-26 is one so severe that the courts have to get involved. We find a principle in such disagreements in
Romans 12:18 NASB95
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Romans 12:8 NASB95
8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Piper is right whenever he notes that Christians are supposed to pursue reconciliation but we are not responsible for making it happen. We cannot sacrifice the integrity of Scripture in order to reconcile ourselves to others! We should pursue reconciliation but we cannot make it happen. Spurgeon notes that, “A lean settlement is better than a fat lawsuit… make peace with the utmost promptitude.” We stop things from escalating. Seek reconciliation in order to live at peace with Athers, even whenever they were the ones “at fault” especially in our mind!
This is not easy, in fact it’s probably the hardest part of being a Christian, but we are called to be peacemakers and sometimes that means that we have to seek peace whenever someone else has wronged us.

Don’t give into Deadly Temptations (27-30)

Christ continues this passage by hitting close to home. Everyone knows the command, “do not commit adultery.” It is plain and simple. A married person is not to have personal relations with anyone other than their spouse. While our culture might not see adultery as that big of a deal, Scripture says that it is! We talked about this during Christmas as the punishment for adultery was death. Tim Challies lists 6 specific reasons why adultery is harmful and destructive.
Adultery is turning away from a promise - to your spouse and to God.
Adultery leads the adulterer from security to chaos and brings about divisionA
Adultery is secretive and dishonest. Adultery loves darkness and tries to remain a secret as long as possible.
Adultery destroys the adulterer. Adultery erodes the character and integrity of the ones involved.
Adultery damages society. Adultery is like a wrecking ball that destroys the fabric of society and stirs up hatred and impacts others.
Adultery hurts children. Children are harmed deeply whenever adultery transpires and some children are scarred for the rest of their life when these situations come about.
Adultery is devastating and serious and many people would agree regarding these 6 points. With that said, Jesus drops a devastating truth bomb whenever he says in verse 28 that whoever looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery with her in his heart.
Many people call Jesus Christ a great teacher and leader but I can’t think of a single non-Christian who would say that Jesus is right in . Jesus says that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Adultery is not limited to a single action but it is something that devastates and destroys for long periods of time! Lust destroys marriages. Lust destroys families. Lust destroys integrity. Lust can also lead to eternal destruction if there is no repentance.
Men and women, may we be like Job who noted,
Job 31:1 NIV
1 “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.
Jesus continues in verses 29-30 by giving us some practical application for this issue. You can be blind and still have lust in your heart, but your eyes certainly make lust easier. The point that Jesus makes in these 2 verses is simple yet profound: sinful lust will lead you down a dead-end road. It will not deliver what it promises. You might think that it will satisfy and make you happy but Jesus promises that it will actually lead you to hell. So do whatever you need to do in order to deal successfully with sinful lust, even if it means losing a part of your body!
Speaking openly, this is something that everyone struggles with. Men struggle with it more, as the numbers illustrate, but all humans struggle with this idea. The Greek word for struggle is “skandalon” and it is in the present tense. This is good news because we all have things that we struggle with and things that used to control us in the past. This verb is not past tense, it is present tense. The idea here is that if your eye keeps on causing you to sin and lust then you would be wise and better off to gouge it out and throw it away! Now our eye balls are extremely useful and important, right? I can’t imagine going throughout my life as a blind person because I love seeing God’s beautiful creation. I love seeing my wife and my family. I love traveling and enjoying the beautiful sights our world has to offer. I can’t imagine living without my eye ball but Jesus says that it is better for me if I am struggling with lust to cut my eye ball out and live without it than to live with it and struggle with lust.
Friends, if that doesn’t show you the magnitude and seriousness of lust then I’m not sure what else will! The real issue obviously lies within our heart. The key to spiritual victory is not a mutiliated eye or cut off arm, rather it is a circumcised heart as shares
Deuteronomy 10:16 NASB95
16 “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.
As the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah shared, once we have this circumcised heart, God’s law is written on our heart
Jeremiah 31:31 NASB95
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
Jeremiah 31:33 NASB95
33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
How many of you have watched the film Fireproof? Fireproof was a Christian film that came out about 10-12 years ago that was centered on a couple whose marriage was crumbling apart because God was not at the center of their marriage! In the film the husband was all about himself and one of his biggest temptations was lust. As a result, their marriage suffered severely for a long period of time. After a “come to Jesus moment”, though, the husband was changed from the inside out and new that he had to make some changes. Some of the changes were easy, others were extremely hard. One change that has always stood out to me from the movie came towards the end as the husband was casually on his computer doing some work and a pop-up came on that led to a site that he previously visited often. He was tempted in this moment but instead of simply closing the pop-up or shutting the computer off, instead he took a baseball bat and shattered the computer before throwing it in the trash.While that might sound extreme, that should be our response whenever lust or temptation in general appears in our life!
So, if your eye or hand causes you to stumble, it is better for your sake to cut it off rather than to use it and stumble. Christ’s call here is simple: Don’t give into deadly temptations! Christ wants our heart. He bought us with a price. We should treasure our heart above all else.

Treat one another Well (31-42)

The 3rd and 4th statements go hand in hand as Jesus gives speaks regarding divorce in verses 31-37. In the United States, roughly 40% of marriages end in divorce according to Time Magazine. While this number is high, we know that marriage is a special covenant between man and woman ordained by God in the Garden. Marriage is important and sacred. But, notice that Jesus gives a clause where divorce can be an option.
God’s plan is for one man and one woman to be together until death do them part. We get that idea from Jesus says in Matthew 19
Matthew 19:6 NASB95
6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
While this is true, sin happens and sin causes problems. Abuse and adultery can certainly give people grounds for divorce but we must be careful to see Scripture for what it says and what it does not say. Divorce is never commanded in Scripture. The Bible never says that if your spouse does this, then you have to do this. The Bible says that it is permitted. In our fallen world reconciliation does not always happen, but the Gospel message is all about reconciliation and if at all possible, broken marriages should seek to be restored by a restoring God. This doesn’t always happen. There are circumstances that certainly permit divorce, but church we have to be careful here. Divorce might be the norm in our culture but it must never become the norm in the church! Marriage is not a fairy tale, it’s hard work. One of the things that I learned in marriage counseling is that 2 sinners living under 1 roof naturally leads to some problems, and that’s ok! We are sinners living with sinners and no one is perfect! Our pursuit in relationships, especially marriages, is to seek reconciliation.
The 5th statement is regarding equality. Jesus says that we should not seek out vengeance but rather turn our other cheek to the evil person.
gives us some wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 6:16–19 NASB95
16 There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.
Whenever someone does evil to us, we are to not relate to them as their enemy but rather as their neighbor. We are to be loving, not hateful. Kind, not harsh. Paul tells us in not to repay anyone evil for evil. The mindset of our world that says, “I don’t get mad, I get even” is foreign to what the Bible says. We don’t live to get even, we live to glorify God! Even whenever it is hard, we turn the other cheek as Jesus modeled time after time. He was mocked, spit upon, beaten, slapped, scourged and nailed to a cross, yet He never retaliated against His abusers. The disciple of Jesus Christ is never more like Jesus than when he or she responds to abuse with grace and without retaliation. This doesn’t mean that we can’t protect ourselves or our families from harm, but we do so while showing love and without showing revenge and anger.
Where the law is present, let grace abound even more! Where someone goes with you 1 mile, go with him 2. Help others out regardless of the cost. Be generous to those in need. What is our motive in all of these things? Simple: God has helped us out immensely as He offers us forgiveness whenever we were sinful beggars. We have been blessed, therefore we bless and help out others, even whenever they are mean and jerks.

Love your Enemies (43-48)

The 6th statement from Jesus takes the idea of loving your neighbor a step further as He says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Yikes. This is tough! Jesus’ use of love in verse 44 is an imperative command. It requires action. This isn’t something that we can pick and choose to do sometimes or something that only some people have to do. As Christians we are all commanded to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us! We are to love our enemies constantly and consistently. This is where the story of the Good Samaritan can come in and provide us with some help. Even whenever we encounter an enemy of sorts who is in need of help, rather than kicking them down, we demonstrate the love of Christ by helping them out.
Not only do we love them but we also pray for them. Prayer is powerful. A lot of times we want to pray for people close to us whether it be family members or close friends because we want the healing and the power of God to help them out. Whenever we have an enemy of sorts, though, we can be quick to run to the Imprecatory Psalms that pray for vengeance and judgment on our enemies! Rather, Christ calls us to pray for them. Christ calls us to do something greater than simply helping out those who we are close with and those who are in our family. We are to imitate our Heavenly Father who has lavished filthy sinners like you and I in His love. Craig Blomberg makes a good point when he says that, “The true test of genuine Christianity is how believers treat those whom they are naturally inclined to hate or who mistreat or persecute them.”
God gives sunshine to all. He gives rain to all. He gives us breath in our lungs. He gave us another day on this planet this morning. Friends, none of us deserve what we have. Whenever someone survives a serious illness or a serious accident the doctor might say that they are “living on borrowed time” - church that is also true of us. We are living on borrowed time. Each and every day is a gift from God that we do not deserve! Whenever we approach life with this mindset we are able to love those who oppose us because we remember that God loves our enemies too.
The goal of all of this is to be “perfect” but we know that we will never be perfect so how does this work? The Greek word is better translated as our English word “mature, or whole”. As John Walvoord notes, “While sinless perfection is impossible, godliness, in its biblical concept, is attainable.” What was the point of the Beatitudes? What was the point of being salt and light? We are to do those things constantly and consistently. Will we ever do those things perfectly? No! We are to reflect the character of Christ each and every day. We are to be today what we will be tomorrow and in eternity! We pursue perfection because Christ was and is perfect! We will fall short, but we should become more like Christ in these areas the more that we study God’s Word and are conformed to His image. Again, it’s not about keeping a formulated set of rules like the law, it is about becoming like Jesus from the inside out and knowing that there is forgiveness whenever we fall short!

Conclusion

To quote Spurgeon, “What a mark is set before us by our Perfect King, who, speaking from his mountain-throne, saith, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”! Lord, give what thou dost command; then both the grace and the glory will be thine alone.”
What a mark is set before us by our Perfect King, who, speaking from his mountain-throne, saith, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”! Lord, give what thou dost command; then both the grace and the glory will be thine alone
We are sinners living with other sinners, yet as adopted children of the King we are called to follow the pattern set before us by Christ. This is a call and a command that we cannot take lightly because it is serious! If we do not apply Christ’s teachings to our lives then who else will? How will our world know what Scripture says if the church is only the church inside these 4 walls? How will the lost hear the Gospel if our focus is solely on looking good and worshipping solely with our brothers and sisters?
Akin, D. (2019). Exalting jesus in the sermon on the mount. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
May we be characterized with an overwhelming generosity as we are sinners living with other sinners. Even when people take advantage of us and treat us poorly, may we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. May we look out for what Jesus says truly matters, regardless of the cost, even if it means denying our “rights”, cutting off our eye ball or turning the other cheek because we never look more like Jesus Christ than when we do exactly that. Let’s pray!
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