Moving The Sin Barrier
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
“When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.
In the whole “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus is teaching us the basis for Real Life, life as a member of God’s Family. How we think; How we act; How we respond, as a Christian with Jesus’ nature in authority over our inbred carnal nature. The “BEATITUDES” are a prime example of how drastically different God’s Ways are from ours.
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord; For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
“For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction]. And no one calls on Your name and awakens and bestirs himself to take and keep hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the [consuming] power of our iniquities. YET, O LORD, YOU ARE OUR FATHER; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:6-8
His Hand… His Son… “And the Word became flesh and lived awhile among us.” John 1:14 We can actually feel the Potter’s strong Hand putting pressure on our lives to reshape us after His own pattern as “the Word made flesh” speaks!
We are to be the Light of the World. But it becomes painfully clear that the Light is His, not ours. The only way we can be of value to the world around us is to have exchanged what we are for what He is; to be possessed by Him so that all the world sees is Jesus and the Pure Light of His personality, His wisdom, His reactions, in a surrendered human body – His word made flesh!
In verse 17 Jesus makes clear that even though what He is teaching seems new, He has come to simply finish everything that had been started. History is actually His-Story. All of history, the Law and the Prophets, were preparing man-kind to hear and see the final Page of God’s redemptive plan. And right before their eyes, that promised fulfillment was a living reality. But there’s a problem. God’s people are in such a corrupt state of mind and spirit, they wouldn’t recognize the Promise if it bit them on the nose! Which is pretty much what Jesus did on several occasions (v. 20). I pray that our continued study will accomplish that effect on us too! It should bite and shatter our earthly perception, even of our Christianity, and fill us with His Reality!
Jesus confirms the absolute authority of the Law of God, the Law which they were so loyal to, or so they thought. Then He picks two points of that Law, murder and adultery, and proceeds to use those as examples to expose what the Law is really all about, contrasting their perception with His – Truth.
“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court. But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell of fire.” [vs 21-22]
We’ll come back to what our subsequent actions should be later. Right now let’s jump down to verse 27 and get His interpretation regarding adultery.
“You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who so much as looks at a woman with evil desire for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
You can see that until this moment these people were perceiving the Law as God’s rules about man’s physical actions. Jesus is saying, “That’s not where the ‘sin barrier’ belongs. A sin barrier set up on the physical surface will not even be dealing with the real sin. The Law did indeed accomplish something miraculous – the creation of the sin barrier. But that isn’t enough. The next step is to MOVE THE SIN BARRIER INSIDE. From what you end up doing, to your heart, where it actually happens first.”
The effect must have been explosive. I can just picture those guys as they reacted to this! It must have been something like, “You gotta be kiddin’ me!” From our own nature’s perspective, that makes the Law not just very hard to live by; this makes it impossible! And that’s the point. Beginning to see that it is impossible to please God, is the very thing that will drive us like a hurricane upon the Rock of His Grace. Shipwrecked and helpless, we will desperately cry out to God our Father, understanding that saving us is His work alone, not ours.
He who looks upon the hearts of men and women has proven beyond any doubt His motive and intent regarding His prize creation. He wants a level of intimacy with us that can only be experienced in the secrecy and privacy of the heart. That is what He has always wanted. You stand in a generation that can look back over the patient and loving steps He has taken through His-Story. You can actually read the simple message written across time in the rise and fall of nations and across the universe in the beauty and awesomeness of His creation, “It’s Me! Your Dad! I miss you! Please come Home!”
I invite you to move the sin barrier today; from your physical hands and lips to your heart. You will have a much more practical perspective on Who actually lives the life that pleases our Father. There’s only One who can. He did it once. He wants to do it again – in you! Let the way Jesus thinks, acts and responds become the way you think, act and respond. It’s not enough to just try to be better or more self-disciplined. You have a part to play, but you must understand it is Him who wants to live His life in You! Our part is simply to let Him.
Here’s your part:
1. INVITE HIM IN AND LISTEN! This is not just a one-time deal. Invite Him into every situation, every circumstance, every day, every thought, every desire, every question, every pain. See what I mean? It’s the full-time job of the believer. That’s the “all your heart, mind, soul and strength” you are to love God with. That simply means you will be a hopeless addict for reading the Bible, spending private time with Him and being Him, with-skin-on to those around you.
2. PRACTICE! Your heart, mind, soul and strength are not easy to re-train! You must begin to catch yourself in mid-stream and replace what you are about to say with what He wants to say. Make an actual exchange between what you would normally do and what Jesus wants to do. Then work with all the determination seen in verses 23-26 and 29-32. Get the response time down. Let your emotional, mental and physical forces know Who’s Boss! In every Case! Don’t let even one go by. Practice until your nature dissolves in His! Saying what you hear Him say, doing what you see Him do. Sound familiar?
Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5, 29:29-30:20