Summary: Jesus refutes the teaching of the churchmen of His day and makes clear the intent of God’s Law.
The Meaning Of Righteousness? Part 2
Last week we listened as Jesus spoke to us about basis and foundation of absolute truth, absolute right and wrong. And as you may recall Jesus made it clear that until heaven and earth pass away, Gods Word remains authoritative and in fact absolute truth and the basis for absolute right and wrong.
The Righteousness God Requires Must Come From The Heart
Today the Lord continues to speak about the Law of God as He teaches that righteousness is a matter of the heart.
Matthew 5:20 through 48
20For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 21You have heard that the ancients were told, YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER and Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court. 22But 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 goodfornothing, shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, You fool,shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
To Jesus legalistic, works oriented hearers, this was a radical teaching. If the meticulously religious and seemingly moral Pharisees could not get to heaven then who could?
He has essentially made it clear that true righteousness exceeds anything that a person might have or accomplish in himself.
When we take this teaching with other teaching through out the New Testament it is clear that the purpose of Gods Law was not to show what to do in order to make oneself acceptable, but as Jesus has already pointed out in the the first beatitude, the first step toward the kingdom of God is poverty of spirit. That is, recognizing ones total wretchedness and inadequacy before God.
Remember That God Considers The Attitude Behind The Act
From the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus focuses on the internal. He is concerned with what men are like in their hearts and minds. The right external behavior only counts when it corresponds to right internal attitudes and motives.
The Bible clearly teaches the principle that God looks to the heart.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men
As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts.
But the LORD said to Samuel, Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.