Summary: Anger, unchecked and uncorrected, affects: 1) Our View of Ourselves, 2) Our Worship of God, and 3) Our Relation to Others.
One of the most shocking crimes a society deals with is when a child kills. Sometimes it is a swarming of a child by a group of kids (Rena Verk), sometimes it is the killing of parents by children (Menendez brothers) and more recently the killing of a girl directed by a rival girl M.J. (Mellissa Tdavorick).
Why does murder occur? Jesus will say in Matthew 15 that it is out of a person’s own heart that “come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders” (Matt. 15:19).
We do not sin simply because of Satan or because of social deprivation, stressful situations, bad influences, or any other external cause. Those things may tempt us to sin and make sinning easier, but when we commit sin-or even intend to commit sin-it is because we decide to sin. Sin is an act of the will.
Jesus’ hearers were aware of the prevalence and seriousness of this sin. No doubt most of them were in full agreement with capital punishment for the crime but were convinced that they were innocent of that particular evil.
After specifying God’s standard of holiness in Matthew 5:20, Jesus now applies this standard attacking self-righteousness by charging that no one is truly innocent of murder. The anger that lies behind murder-anger which many people think is not really a sin-is one of the worst of sins. Although most children do not act out the ultimate result of anger, the anger that exists in all our hearts, even displayed in the youngest, shows the common problem that we must all attend to and realize our common need for deliverance.
Anger, unchecked and uncorrected, affects: 1) Our View of Ourselves, 2) Our Worship of God, and 3) Our Relation to Others.
1) The Effect on Our View of Ourselves. Matthew 5:21-22
Matthew 5:21-22 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ’You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ’You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (ESV)
The first of six illustrations of heart-righteousness that Jesus gives in Matthew 5 deals with the sin of murder: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ’You shall not murder; “Those of old”, the ancients refers to the rabbis and scribes of old who had devised the many traditions with which Judaism had become encumbered and which had virtually replaced the authority of the Scriptures.
“Murder” is the correct rendering since the underlying Hebrew (ratsach, sometimes translated “kill”) did not include killing in self-defense, wars ordered by Yahweh, capital punishment following due process of law, or accidental manslaughter (Blomberg, Craig: Matthew. electronic ed. Nashville : Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992 (Logos Library System; The New American Commentary 22), S. 106).
Understanding the full scope of this term is the issue. According to rabbinic tradition, and to the beliefs of most cultures and religions, murder is strictly limited to the act of physically taking another person’s life. Jesus had already warned that God’s righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (v. 20).
The traditional command you shall not commit murder was scriptural, being a rendering of Exodus 20:13. But the traditional Jewish penalty, whoever commits murder shall be liable to judgment/the court, fell short of the biblical standard in several ways. In the first place it fell short because it did not prescribe the scriptural penalty of death (Gen. 9:6; Num. 35:30–31; etc.). The traditional penalty for murder was liability before a civil court, which apparently used its own judgment as to punishment. In the second place, and more importantly, God’s holy character was not even taken into consideration. Nothing was said of disobedience to His law, of desecrating His image in which man is made, or of His role in determining and dispensing judgment. In the third place nothing was said about the inner attitude, the heart offense of the murderer.
• For kids, a list of do’s and dont’s doesn’t deal with the issue of the heart.
• Direction, weather to a child or across a congregation, will never get to the heart of the matter until it gets to the heart of the matter.
In verse 22 Jesus gives three examples that show the divine definition of murder: being angry with another person, insult him, or calling him a fool.
A) The Evil and Danger of Anger. Matthew 5:22a
Matthew 5:22a But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; (whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ’You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire). (ESV)