Monday, April 16, 2012



In this early presentation of Jesus we come now to where Jesus actually moves through 6 specific teachings taught by the scribes and Pharisees and then gives His teaching on each one. Each teaching is from the Law that Jesus says He will not abolish, but will fulfill. Each time he prefaces the teaching with something like "You have heard it said, but I say to you." The difference is very clear and deeply convicting.
Beginning with the 21st verse in chapter 5 is the teaching on murder: "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever, commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 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. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 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. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent."

This refers to a debtor's prison. Handle your conflicts to the best of your ability to avoid hurtful circumstances. I don't think anyone would be against this teaching that a murderer ought to be sent to court for some accountability. Jesus takes the entire matter deeper. He is saying that murder is not committed simply on the social level between people (externally), but murder goes deeper into the heart (internally).

Jesus says: 1st Degree Murder is anyone who is angry at another brother. The root of murder is in the heart-anger! Now, you will have anger, but don't hang on to it and allow it to fester. That will prove to be as destructive as the social act of murder.

2nd Degree Murder is anyone who calls his brother "good-for-nothing". The word, Raca, has to do with attacking one's head, calling him stupid!

3rd Degree Murder is anyone who calls another a "fool", this term has to do with contempt for a person's heart and character. Jesus covers the entire spectrum of anger!

Jesus then drives His point home by using an extreme illustration. Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you; in other words, Jesus says that even the high act of worshipping God must not take precedence over your relationships with others. This is a powerful point! He will reiterate this dynamic later in this speech. You must understand that your relationships with one another are at the heart of God! Jesus sets forth the procedure to follow. Leave your offering there-stop your worship or attention toward the Lord.

Go to your brother-seek out this offended one. Be reconciled to him-as far as it depends upon you. You may not accomplish full reconciliation in return. Then come and present your offering-now you are ready to face the God of gods.
Be careful not to act like a Pharisee and wrangle over words, like saying, "Well, I haven't really had 'anger' in my heart, maybe 'dislike' but not anger or called anyone 'stupid' or 'fool', therefore I have not done any of these things that are at the heart of murder.

GET OVER IT! You may not have murdered someone in society (an outward act), but you are guilty of murder through one or more of the degrees of murder (an inward act). NOW ACT UPON IT. THE JESUS WAY! Embrace SECRET #19: The follower of Jesus knows his heart of hate is equal to murder. To Jesus everything originates in the heart, so guard your heart by wrapping it around Jesus and His teachings. You'll never go wrong with that!



SECRET #18 is The follower of Jesus lives his life inside out. Jesus teaches this principle on many occasions, but the first time is in Matthew 5:20. He says: "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."
As I pointed out in the last secret, Jesus is not saying here to be more showy than the scribes and Pharisees were. He is actually saying that He is looking for you to go beyond or deeper than that external religious show and get back to the heart of the matter-internally.

In the Old Testament and quoted again in the New Testament God says: "I want compassion and not sacrifice." God, Himself set up a most extensive and pervasive sacrificial system, yet wants your heart of compassion. There is a natural tendency toward external religious motions. It's to show to others how religious you really are.

What God wants is a heart relationship and not an external religiosity. The external consists of man-made traditions and commandments. These are usually add-ons that either smother or nullify the essence of what God wants.

There is a theme throughout the teachings of Jesus. It's being before doing. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon and evaluates the heart. This is what it means to live your life inside out. You are living your life before an audience of one-your Creator. Whatever is on the inside (being) will flow out into your actions (doing).

There is also the theme of salt (inner character) and light (external lifestyle). Your inner character of salt is required before your outer expression of light. This, too, is all about living life inside out. Lived out this way your life will be more credible, attractive and effective.

When you live your inside out-salt before light and being before doing, your life will become more and more like a fountain. People love to be around a fountain and enjoy it. People come to the fountain; the fountain is not taken to the people. This is the way you want to live your life-so attractive that people want to see and know more about where the center of your life really is. What makes you tick? What makes you so attractive?

I have often expressed that believers tend to move into a stance that has very little effect in changing their world. Believers tend to talk to themselves about the world or talk to the world about themselves. The favorite pastime of the church is to confess the sins of those outside the church. My favorite line is, "We are judging the world and talking to ourselves, when we ought to be judging ourselves and talking to the world!"

It's so much easier to busy ourselves with causes, but these 'good' causes get in the way of the 'best'-changing our world for good and forever! Bob Briner's book, SEVEN NOBLE CAUSES THAT KEEP CHRISTIANS FROM CHANGING THE WORLD, is right on target here! Check out the external, noble causes he lists: 1.    Squabbling over prayer in public schools! 2.    Making Jesus a right winger! 3.    Thwarting the homosexual agenda! 4.    Fighting other Christians over doctrinal purity! 5.    Shutting down the abortion clinics! 6.    Cleaning up television! 7.    Fighting for family values!

These external causes are nothing more than deadly detours away from matters of the heart. It's all about external demonstrations for Jesus, but has little to do with demonstrating Jesus to the world.

We take deadly detours because they make us feel active and engaged. Why? Because it is so difficult to live your life from the inside out. It's so much easier to do something external and not really own it in your heart. To talk the walk is easy; to walk the walk is living like Jesus and that's tough. This is why I often say: "I'm trying to do the toughest thing I've ever tried to do in my life. I'm trying to following the teachings and principles of Jesus." This is why SECRET #18 is key: The follower of Jesus lives his life inside out.