Sermon # 12 Series: Matthew
Title: SEVEN VITAL LESSONS
Text: Matthew 5:21-48
Subject: Christianity As It Ought To Be
Date: Tuesday Evening – September 13, 1994
Tape: # Q-43
I have never attempted to preach a sermon that I felt less qualified to preach, or that I more needed to have preached to me, than the one I am going to try to preach to you tonight. The title of my message is Seven Vital Lessons. When I say that something is vital, I mean that it is vital. You cannot live without it. Tonight, I am going to show you seven things we all must learn, we must each personally learn them, or we cannot live before God. These things are vital. My text is Matthew 5:21-48. In these verses we have a picture of Christianity as it ought to be. No child of God can read these verses without painful feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, and deep conviction. None of us measures up to the standard that is here set before us. Read the passage with me. But be prepared to have your heart torn, bruised and broken. (Read verses 21-48).
In these twenty-eight verses our Lord Jesus Christ shows us that grace experienced in the heart makes people gracious.
These verses deserve our closest attention. A proper understanding of the lessons they contain lies at the very root of all true Christianity.
I. First, our Lord here teaches us The Spirituality of God’s Holy Law.
In verses 17and 18, he declared that he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Here he explains to us that his gospel does nothing to lower the standard of God’s law, but only magnifies and honors the law. To the Jews of his day and to the religious of our day the law of God is nothing more than a standard of moral conduct, a regulatory rule of life and behavior. So our Lord selected three of the commandments and expounded them to show us that the law requires more than outward conformity. The law of God requires inward, spiritual perfection, perfection in heart, in thought, and in mind, as well as outward perfection.
A. “Thou shalt not kill” requires more than not committing murder it forbids all unjustified anger, all malice, ill-will, and cruel, mean-spirited speech – (vv. 21-26).
Many who would cringe at the thought of wringing a chicken’s neck are mass murders at heart, for they slay thousands with their angry words.
B. “Thou shalt not commit adultery, “requires much more than marital fidelity – (vv. 27-33).
Adultery and fornication are horrible crimes against God and against man. One of the saddest indications of God’s judgment upon our society is the freedom of conscience with which men and women commit licentious deeds of immorality.
But the God with whom we have to do looks beyond actions to thoughts, attitudes, and looks! Multitudes who march in protest against pornography run a constant porno shop in their own evil minds – Who is not guilty?
C. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain” requires much more than not using God’s name in an oath – (vv. 33-37).
II. These interpretations of God’s law are intended to teach us The Strict Holiness and Justice of The Lord our God.
· “The Lord looketh upon the heart!” (I Sam. 16:7).
NOTE: God did not punish Adam for eating an apple but for the rebellion and treason of his heart!
NOTE: Sin is not an outward problem, but an inward problem – A Heart Problem!
III. Thirdly, our Lord’s words here demonstrate The Complete Ignorance of Man Regarding Spiritual Things (I Cor. 2:11-14).
Most professing Christians, I fear, know no more about God’s law and true holiness than the spiritually ignorant scribes and Pharisees of our Lord’s day. They know the letter of the law, and try to live by it. Because they are not outwardly immoral, they presume, like the rich young ruler, that they have kept God’s law (Mt. 19:20), and see nothing terribly obnoxious and sinful about themselves – No man by nature knows…
That is the reason for man’s natural pride, self-righteousness, and easy contentment with an outward form of godliness.
IV. Fourthly, our Savior’s object in these verses is to teach us The Absolute Necessity of A Divine, Sin-Atoning Savior.
A. God Requires perfect righteousness – We can’t produce it.
B. God Requires complete satisfaction for sin – We can’t give it.
C. God Provides What He Requires in the Lord Jesus Christ.
· By a Man!
· Of Infinite Worth, Because That Man is God!
V. We cannot possibly meet God’s demands. And we trust Christ alone as our Savior - (I Cor. 1:30). But that does not make us indifferent to sin. In these verses, our Lord is teaching us The Importance of Constant Watchfulness and Diligence Over Our Lives. (Eph. 4:17-32)
It is your responsibility and mine to put on Christ Jesus and be renewed in the inward man day by day, to make no provision for the flesh and walk not as other Gentiles walk in the vanity of their minds.
Let men call you precise, puritanical, and peculiar if they please; but if you want to walk with God and glorify Christ, you must labor to crucify the flesh and mortify your members. You must strive to walk in the Spirit, so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
VI. Sixthly, in verses 38-47, the Lord Jesus teaches us The Blessedness of Grace and Love.
J.C. Ryle wrote, “He that would know how he ought to feel and act towards his fellow-man, should often study these verses.”
A. We must always be ready to make up quarrels and disagreements, lest they fasten into greater evils. (vv. 23-24).
B. Our Savior forbids everything like retaliation, revenge, and an unforgiving spirit -(vv. 38-42).
C. Our God and Savior shows us that we who claim to be his disciples are to practice indiscriminate, universal love toward men (vv. 43-47).
We are to put away malice. When cursed, we are to bless. When we receive evil, we are to return good. We are not to love in word only, but in deed. We are to deny ourselves and take the trouble to be kind and courteous. We are to put up with much and learn much, rather than hurt another, or give offence. Unfailing courtesy, kindness, tenderness, and thoughtful consideration of others are things that all men can understand even if they cannot understand our doctrine.
Rudeness, roughness, bluntness, and incivility are not spiritual graces, but reflect the absence of spiritual grace. (Eph. 4:32-5:1).
D. Our Lord uses two very weighty arguments to enforce these principles of grace and love.
1. It is the character of God to be merciful and kind (v. 45). If God is my Father, I will reflect his character.
2. It is the character of worldlings to be selfish, self-serving, and self-centered – If that is my character, I am yet of the world! (vv. 46-47).
VIII. Lastly, our Lord shows us The Standard We Must Pursue (v. 48).
We cannot settle for less than absolute perfection. We cannot attain it here. But we must strive to attain it. That standard of perfection involves three things.
· Total Commitment to Christ!
· Total Conformity to Christ!
· Total Communion with Christ!
If we truly seek this perfection here, we shall find it in the world to come.
1. I thank God that salvation is by grace alone in Christ.
2. I want, more than life itself, to honor God my Savior while I live in this world.