I had a friend over tonight for our regular Smallville viewing on Thursday nights and afterwards, we started discussing apologetics issues and this time, it came to biblical interpretation and the role of the law in the life of a Christian. It’s late as I write this, so I’d simply like to focus on one point I brought up and explain it further.
When we read the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has a total reversal. The Beattitudes that he starts out with have as the blessed, the very ones that you would not expect to see as blessed. The ones that are despised by the world are the ones that are honored in the kingdom. The kingdom is about what kind of person you are.
Yet in Matthew 5:20, we are told how great our righteousness must be. Our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees. We look at that group and as much as we condemn them, we also realize that these were the big lawkeepers of the day. If anyone was said to be moral, it would be them.
Yet turn to a passage like Matthew 23 or Luke 11 and you see Jesus turning on them and telling them exactly how he sees them. Jesus does not deny that they keep the externals of the law. He talks about how they are inside though. What kind of lives are they living in response to the moral law that is written on our hearts?
So we have a command telling us not to murder. Well, I don’t know about you all, but I haven’t murdered anyone lately. I’ve decided to limit that to days that end in “Y.” Few of us hopefully have murdered anyone. Jesus says “Okay. You haven’t murdered. How’s your heart?” This is when we get to the real matter.
What’s your attitude towards your brother? Do you love your brother or do you hate him? 1 John tells us that loving our brother is essential. How are you doing on this? Is this something that you do easily? Isn’t it hard when your brother does something that truly annoys you? What if he genuinely wrongs you? Are you loving him then?
Anybody else having a challenge?
What about adultery? Most of us I hope have not committed that. But what about the internal reality? I could safely say I’ve made mistakes involving the opposite sex. I think most single guys especially would say that. I can only speak as a guy of course, but I don’t think the struggle is easier for our female counterparts.
Men. How are you handling yourself sexually? Are you living a pure life there, or is it something that is controlling you? Keep in mind I’m not talking about sexual desire per se. You should have that. The question is, do you have the desire or does the desire have you? Do you control your sexual drive or does your sexual drive control you?
What about oath keeping? Jesus raises the bar. Here’s how good your word should be. There should be no need to emphasize anything or even call on oaths. Your word should be gold. How about it? Is your word trustworthy? When you say you will do something, do you do it? How are you measuring up to the commandments?
I could go on, but I want this point to be clear. Jesus is raising the bar, but I think the good news must be said. He has fulfilled that as well and he is making us into that kind of people. We must be perfect as our Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) However, he is helping us on that perfection. When we stand before God, we will have been brought to that goal.
Furthermore, if you think about Heaven, consider this. Heaven will be a place full of kingdom people. Read the Sermon on the Mount and think about what kind of world we would live in if everyone kept that sermon perfectly. That’s an idea of what Heaven is like. Heaven is for Kingdom People, and Christ is preparing us for that.