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.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,But the LORD weighs the motives.
I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways,According to the results of his deeds.
Time and again during Jesus ministry on the earth his opponents would be grumbling about what he was doing and Jesus address them about it because he knew what was in their hearts
Luke 9:46 through 48
An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. 47But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, 48and said to them, Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.
John 2:24 through 25
But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 5Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of mens hearts; and then each mans praise will come to him from God.