Summary: OUTLINE: The Letter of the Law (Do Not Commit Murder) The Spirit of the Law (Anger and Hatred are the Root of Murder) The Application of the Law (Seek Peace with Others)
The Letter and the Spirit: Murder
There is a famous quote about the Bible which has been attributed to everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Mark Twain. The quote is this: “It’s not the parts of the Bible I do not understand that worry me, it’s the parts I do understand but do not want to do.”
I wanted to begin my mentioning this quote this morning because we are about to embark upon the meat of the Sermon on the Mount wherein Jesus will be correcting the many misunderstandings of the Jewish teachers.
He will say, “You have heard it said... but I say to you”
Throughout this, He will say some things which may possibly be hard to hear.
But the reality is that they are hard to hear not because they are hard to understand, but because many of them are simply hard to obey.
They require putting away of the flesh and total dependence upon the spirit.
I pray that in the weeks to come that we will see that Christ is here outlining the ethic of the Kingdom; one wherein believers operate in the spirit and not as slaves to the flesh.
READ: Matthew 5:21-26
In the book of Romans the apostle Paul makes a point about the Law of Godwhich is very important to our study today.
Romans 2:29 “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.”
In this passage, Paul makes a distinction between the “letter” of the law and the “spirit” of the Law.
This idea of understanding law as both having a literal application and a foundational backing (or spirit) has been discussed down through the ages, and it is often a big debate in interpreting laws; it often inspires great disagreement when discussing how laws are supposed to function within a society.
The question becomes, are we obligated to the letter of the law only, or the spirit with which it was intended?
Now, I mention the apostle Paul because this idea of the “Letter and Spirit” of the law is often attributed to him, since he used that language in Romans.
However, before Paul ever wrote one word on this subject, Jesus had already demonstrated this principle in the Sermon on the Mount.
In our text today, Jesus begins a series of teachings wherein He will be demonstrating that the teachers of His day had become masters of the “Letter” of the Law, but that they had abandoned the “Spirit” of the Law, thus they were not properly “Applying” the Law.
The Letter of the Law (Do Not Commit Murder)
The Spirit of the Law (Anger and Hatred are the Root of Murder)
The Application of the Law (Seek Peace with Others)
I. The Letter of the Law - Do Not Commit Murder
Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.”
Now, it is important to point out at this point that this is a true statement:
The Law forbids murder.
But, why is murder so evil to begin with?