THE LAW IS ALSO INWARD
We are on a journey through the Sermon on the Mount to try discover what Jesus taught that made Him different from the other rabbis and their disciples. How did He interpret the Torah? What was His yoke?
The Pharisees thought they were okay with God as long as they obeyed the Ten Commandments. They did not understand that obedience to God’s Law was not only doing the right thing, but also having the right heart. This is where they came short of perfect obedience to the Law.
Jesus began by quoting a commandment.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool,’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matthew 5:21-22
God’s perfection goes much deeper than just our outward actions. It starts in the heart. The Bible teaches us that God is love. Whatever He does is always motivated by His love, be it towards His children or towards those who hate Him.
“…He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked…” Luke 6:35b.
Because we are His sons and daughters, He wants us to be like Him.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36.
When we are angry with someone and hate him, we have already killed him in our hearts even if we have not actually taken his life. In God’s eyes, anger is just the same as murder because anger nullifies love.
If God expects such a high standard from us, how can we ever reach that standard? Without His forgiveness for our failure and the help of the Holy Spirit who is in us if we have faith in Jesus, we can never be what God expects us to be.
The amazing thing is that, because we have been forgiven for our failure to obey God perfectly, and because of our trust in Jesus to be our Lord and Master, God gives us the gift of Jesus’ perfect obedience which He calls “righteousness”. Now He doesn’t see us any longer because we are “in Christ”. He sees Jesus only because we are hidden in Jesus. When we fall short of God’s holy standards, He forgives because of Jesus. The Father treats us as His sons and daughters because we are covered in Jesus’ righteousness and washed clean in His blood.
If we try to be perfect on our own, we will fail. When we trust in God to forgive our sins and we rest in Jesus because He obeyed God’s laws perfectly for us, He will enable us, through the power of the Holy Spirit who is in us, to love instead of hate and to forgive instead of being angry with people.
SCRIPTURE TAKEN FROM THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.