For several years, W.W.J.D. bracelets have been popular.
Hopefully they helped to generate profitable communications toward conversion to Christ.
Jesus definitely spoke with authority in the greatest Sermon ever preached
(recorded in Matt. 5, 6 & 7)
Webster defines authority as:
'the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior'.
Charles Swindoll calls it 'convincing force' for Jesus' words were living and active. (Hebrews 4:12)
He also said:
"Jesus' words and behavior eclipsed every man-made code of ethics or moral standard.
Without this, humanity is awash in this person's opinion...or that culture's tradition, some groups' opinion or here in 1st Century it was 'Pharisaic legalism'.
Jesus was very clear about this and in vs. 20, He said:
"Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case, enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
In verse 17, He emphasizes:
"I have not come to destroy the law, but to fill it full of love."
In verse 18, He says:
"The law can be a school teacher to lead us to see wrong and do right."
In verse 19:
Jesus gives a warning to anyone who destroys the least commandment and teaches erroneously.
On the other hand, the faithful teacher and keeper of the law, shall be honored.
We MUST keep the spirit of the law and fulfill it or better, fill the law full of love!
As we study the rest of the Chapter, we see the righteousness of God teaching us the following:
1) Go beyond 'legalism' to 'loving'.
2) Go beyond 'self' to 'service'.
3) Go beyond 'tradition' to 'truth'.
4) Go beyond 'the letter' to 'the spirit'.
Please remember that Jesus precedes this section with Blessed Attitudes,
followed by Blessed Atmosphere (influence).
We are to shake the salt and light the light.
These are MUSTS in order to keep the Blessed Actions!
Here are instructions for fulfilling Christ's interpretation of the law:
1) THOU SHALT NOT KILL (Vs. 21-26)
Jesus prohibited even anger, for the seed of murder is in anger and hatred.
Notice the progression of anger and corresponding judgments.
a) There is not an act of worship that is acceptable to God while the worshipper is wrongly related to his fellow man.
A quarrel is never to be nurtured, but is to be quickly resolved.
(Eph. 4:25-26) "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor for we are members one of another. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath."
b) A man's attitude toward his fellow man may be dangerously wrong
even though no physical violence is involved.
c) Is your Christian faith a relationship...or just ritual...Christ-like or Pharisee-like?
2) THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY (Vs. 27-32)
Not only is the act of adultery forbidden, but the unclean thoughts also.
'Removing the eye or hand that offends' are strong words that indicate the seriousness of the problem and the necessity of a remedy, however costly.
(Vs. 32) God's ideal is one man for one woman for life.
However all sin can be forgiven and a divorced person can become vital to the Kingdom of God.
We MUST NOT make divorce 'the unpardonable sin',
as God is still in the Redeeming Business and wants to redeem EVERY situation!
3) A PERSON'S SPEECH (Vs. 33-37)
Jesus again expresses His interest in the attitude and inner motivation of a person.
He earnestly desires His followers to live and speak the truth because this alone is right.
A good person needs no oath, for their character testifies to the truthfulness of their words.
In the movie 'Bambi', the little rabbit, Thumper was laughing at the awkwardness of the little deer, Bambi. Thumper's mother said, "Thumper, what have I told you?"
Thumper replied, "I know....if you can't say something good about somebody, don't say nothing at all!"
4) RETALIATION (Vs. 38-42)
The Jews misinterpreted the law at the point of retaliation for it was their contention that the law commanded it.
Jesus said that the Old Testament teachings were never intended to lead to violence.
It was given to put a limit on such violence.
Jesus taught a "Christian retaliation".....
by which actual good is given in return for evil.
Because God loves us in spite of ourselves,
we must be careful of an envious and malicious spirit.
To be a Christian, a person must be willing to minimize self, share their possessions and render spiritual service.
5) LOVE (Vs. 43-48)
AGAPE LOVE is unselfish love, God-given, Christ-like kind of love.
It treats the other person as one created in the image of God and of much value.
EROS LOVE is a physical love and can be erotic and very sensual.
It may also use and treat a person as an 'it' or a 'thing'.
PHILIA LOVE is a love of personal affection such as love for a brother.
The object of AGAPE is man's enemies. We are to continue praying on behalf of the person who continues persecuting us. God is impartial in providing rain and sunshine, even for the man who is morally undeserving. We should follow His example.
Is there anything special about you?
I hope that it is because you act like your Heavenly Father and are becoming more perfect and complete like Christ everyday.
Martin Luther King went through a lot in his life, fighting for civil rights for all races.
He suffered much and was eventually assassinated for his convictions.
The theme of his life was:
"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."
Jesus dealt with the attitudes and intents of the heart
and not simply with the external actions.
He knew that actions always reflect previously established attitudes.
Also, that the extent of a person's obedience was in direct proportion to the heart's commitment to keep the spirit of the law.
"Out of the heart are the issues of life, so keep your heart with all diligence."
Frances R. Havergal (1836-1879) had very poor health, yet wrote these words:
'Take my LIFE and let it be...consecrated Lord, to Thee.
Take my MOMENTS and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my HANDS and let them move...at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my FEET and let them be, swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my VOICE and let me sing, always only for my King.
Take my LIPS and let them be, filled with messages from Thee.
Take my SILVER and my GOLD, not a mite would I withhold.
Take my WILL and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine.
Take my HEART...it is Thine own. It shall be Thy royal throne."
George Beverly Shea records:
"Near the end of Frances Havergal's life, after writing this song, she gathered together all of her jewels that she had acquired and sent them to the Missionary House where they disposed of them, using the money for God's Kingdom.
She wrote a friend, saying that she had never found such joy in giving!"
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...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
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Another great thought provoking article Travis. ("You wrote:We MUST NOT make divorce 'the unpardonable sin', as God is still in the Redeeming Business and wants to redeem EVERY situation!") For those who hold this view, there is this Scripture: Jere. 3:8-Then I saw that for all the cause for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; So is this telling us that GOD is divorced? Blessings, Sharon