JOB 2:10 "... SHALL WE ACCEPT THE GOOD FROM GOD AND NOT THE BAD?"
ONE family TRYING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE.
As a child and teenager, I was in church all the time, and that is no exaggeration. From an early age I learned the 10 commandments, and I was always looking for the "easy ones" to follow. The 7th commandment "thou shall not commit adultery," was one I just knew I would never break...
Matthew 5:28English Standard Version (ESV)
28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
And then this verse happened. Jesus took my idea of adultery and expanded it into a whole new realm. Previously my mind understood to successfully fulfill this obligation of the Law was simple. Do not have an affair with anyone other than my wife. In came Matthew 5:27-32, and Jesus included, not only the obvious, but also lusting after a woman. My mind was blown. My pride in my own discipline was devastated.
For Jesus to take the physical act of adultery and make it a sin of the heart and mind was almost too much for me to comprehend. If adultery can be done this way, what other sins could follow? Are any of the Commandments safe or are all open to being broken in the mind? Is it adultery for 2 people to have sex who aren't married to anybody? Have they cheated on their future spouse by their action? What must I do, or not do, to be right before God? Where is the list?
In the very next passage Jesus gives us another way people commit adultery. Anyone who divorces his wife, except because of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and to marry a divorced woman is to commit adultery.
Who knew that it was so hard to not commit adultery?
The understanding I had as a child and teenager has changed tremendously. These verses along with the verses surrounding them in Matthew (read Heart Problems post) must make us realize that we have tried to limit sin to a list of do's and don'ts, and God has dedicated a very generous part of the Bible trying to show His holiness extends to much more than we have on our puny list.
The purpose of this post IS NOT to make you or me feel guilty over past sins. All of us have already committed the greatest form of adultery. We have left the God of the universe to go into an adulterous relationship with idols that have left us used, broken and unfulfilled. Instead, God calls us to Himself, giving us a relationship full of purpose, hope, and life. I hope we will see our sin, all of it, at its beginning point... in our hearts and minds. I pray we won't think of our relationship with God as a list of do's and don'ts. That we will find comfort (maybe terror) knowing at the end of the day God is looking at what's found in our hearts.
"You have heard it said..."
These words automatically prepare the reader to take an accepted teaching and think about it in a new way. Jesus does not disappoint here. You have heard it said, "you shall not murder." This is one of the easiest truths to teach to people. There is something deep within people that allows most of us to agree that it is wrong to kill others. Without a doubt some still chose to murder, but most people, regardless of religious affiliation can agree with this Christian teaching.
The Jewish people Jesus spoke to were no different. They too agreed it was wrong to murder. This is a nice and easy commandment for us to follow. We can roll down the list of the 10 Commandments and this is the one most of us check off first. "No worries there I have never murdered anyone, and I am way better than that guy who has." Without a doubt the Jews listening that day would have similar thoughts, "wow, I heard this Jesus brought the heat and showed the sinners all of their errors. I must be pretty good if today's lesson is to teach us that murder is wrong."
Little did they know Jesus was not about to let these guys off so easily. Instead he takes the easiest commandment in the Bible and turns it up a few dozen notches. Jesus taught that to be angry with your brother is enough to bring you to judgement. That is quite a big jump to place the sin of murder in the same section as anger. But, Jesus taught the condition of our heart was just as important as the outward sin we commit.
As Christians we are often faced with, "we need to do better," which has us attempting to avoid doing sin. Jesus instead showed the action of murder had a much deeper issue than what could be seen at the surface. The sin began long before the action itself was carried out in the form of murder. Sin had its root in the anger and attitude of the man, and these came long before any murder would be committed.
Jesus does not address the sin, rather He goes to the source of the sin... the human heart. Sin is the manifestation of the condition of our heart, and from our heart condition comes all sorts of evil actions. People around us see the evil actions that come forth, which makes us want to change those actions. We would prefer for people to never see our sin, and therefore we attempt to cover it up, by trying hard not to curse, tell inappropriate jokes, get drunk, and the list goes on. In these few verses we are shown 2 truths, and these truths can help us immensely when dealing with our heart problems.
1. God's view of our shortcomings goes much deeper than anything the human eye could detect.
2. The Holy Spirit must do work on the person's heart before outward righteousness can be seen and more importantly... be genuine.
Most people when confronted with the Gospel will counter with something similar to, "I'm a pretty good person." Without getting too far off topic, just know that there is no "good" person. We are all messed up, and from the moment of our conception, we are all bad. This doesn't change that people continuously deny Jesus, because they feel they are good enough and God will allow them into heaven based on that.
Entrance into heaven does not work that way. In verse 20 of Matthew 5 Jesus says, "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." For the next few minutes let's take a look at what it would take for a person to be "good enough" to enter heaven.
One. You must be righteous. That's simple enough, be a good person. If you ask, "what does it take to get to heaven?" most people will tell you exactly that. Be a good person, or do more good with your life than you do bad. This also leads to the question, "how good is good enough?" Which carries us right into our next point.
Two. Your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. I'm no ancient Hebrew scholar, but I have read the list of rules and laws these guys were required to follow and let's just say, it was strenuous. BUT, Jesus says more is required! Your righteousness must exceed the scribes and Pharisees to enter heaven. What on earth is to be done if these men haven't done enough good in their lives to pull it off?
Three. Changing your idea of "good." We have the idea that doing good is equal to being good. It is not. God is good and He is THE standard of what is required to be considered good. We miss this a lot. We think of doing better than our buddy, our neighbor or our co-worker makes us above average and therefore good. When in reality the standard for good is being like God, and anything less than being like God not good AKA bad.
Four. Recognizing the inadequacy of your own righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 says our righteous deeds are to Him as filthy rags. This is what our "good" actions look like when we do those actions without Him. As much as we want to do good on our own, even our best efforts fall magnificently short. Not only short, but disgusting to God.
Five. Accepting the adequacy of Jesus. There is only one way to live up to God's standard of "good" and that is to accept His offer to do it for you. Yes it is actually that easy. God sets up an impossible task, to live a life that measures up to Him. He then reveals to people that they can't live this life. He does not leave us in our hopeless realization, but instead shows us that He will do the work for us. God sent Jesus to be perfect, because that is what is He requires, and because we have failed miserably. But luckily for us, where we are perfectly inadequate He is perfectly adequate.
For starters: I am nothing special, I love Jesus and He is my Lord. I am the husband of a godly woman. She is working with me to raise a godly child. I am a teacher. I love to read and write.