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Summary: Jesus, who often fretted the Pharisees, said it’s not what is on the outside that counts, it’s the internal things that matter of the most.

It’s what’s inside that counts most.

Matthew 5:20 -- 22. 01/11/04

You do not have to study the lives of the Pharisees long to realize they wanted to go through the motions of being religious. But Jesus, who often fretted the Pharisees, said it’s not what is on the outside that counts, it’s the internal things that matter of the most.

Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tut. He starts his story telling about the entire fancy carvings genuine gold inlay. He would find a coffin completely overlaid with gold. Inside the larger coffin would be a smaller one made of solid gold. Inside that coffin wrapped in golden cloth was the shriveled old corpse. The entire thing on the outside was beautiful but the inside was full of a dead man’s bones.

The outer covering of beauty isn’t as important as the inner man. The Pharisees were masters of creating a good-looking exterior, but inside they were dead as a hammer.

Now if you went to church with the Pharisees, who says we don’t, but you would find a group of people who attend every church service. They would be on time and they would all be carrying their Bibles. They would everyone tithe. None of them would ever swear, drink or ever commit adultery. And they all will go straight to hell. Jesus said, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus is saying your righteousness must be on the inside. He is calling for clean heart not just as clean shirt.

Jesus compared the practices of the Pharisees to a man washing dishes. Can you imagine a man washing dishes? Anyway the man would polish and shine the outside of the cup but the inside full of filth. They made special effort to clean the outside but the heart was full of filth.

There was a daughter of wealthy parents who got saved in one of Billy Graham’s crusade. The mother was so embarrassed by her daughter’s actions. Her mother said you are a sweet girl you don’t need this. The daughter looked her mother in the eyes and said you cannot see my heart. She knew she needed forgiveness and salvation.

The Sermon on the Mount Jesus tried to rip away the veil hiding this misconception, so that everyone could see his or her need for salvation.

To further illustrate his point, Jesus used the illustration of murder. He talks first of all about THE MURDER OF MAN. Verse 21, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said of them of old time, thou shall not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.” These words can be translated thou shall do no murder.

Now there are times when killing things are acceptable. The killing of animals is not forbidden. The law itself demanded an animal sacrifice. Jesus ate fish and he did not eat them alive.

Also the Bible does not forbid capital punishment. In the book of Exodus 21:12 reads, “he that smiteth a man, so that he die, he shall surely be put to death.” Some say that is in the Old Testament. As far as I know and the last time I checked, it is still the Bible, the Word of God.

What the Bible speaks of it is a sin to take the life without just cause. Homicide is forbidden, as is suicide. By the taking of life without just cause is acting as God. By suicide, you are taking the matter out of God’s hands and putting it in your hands. God alone is wise enough to determine the time of a man’s life. He can give us grace to meet our every need.

Not only are homicide and suicide forbidden but also infanticide is forbidden. Taking the lives of innocent babies is murder. I’m disappointed that here in America we are more concerned with spotted owls and baby whales than about unborn children. Most of these that are caring sign to protect the cow stand silent when babies are murdered in the womb. God will one day Judge America for violating the principal of, “thou shall not kill.”

When Jesus was talking about the Old Testament command of murder, the Pharisees were nodding their heads in agreement. Jesus not only spoke about the murder of man but also THE MURDER OF MALICE. Look at verse 22.

Jesus destroys their illusion of righteousness. They failed to see that their heart was full of malice. They looked down on everyone who wasn’t as righteous as themselves. They hated the lost and in doing so became lost themselves.

It’s what is on the inside that counts. A person can put on a clean suit and pretend to be something. That doesn’t impress God. We can never behave our way into heaven. To receive Jesus as our savior changes the inside. The spirit of God takes up his abode in our heart and replaces hate and anger with love. Isn’t that what you really want? Do you know Jesus?

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