Summary: We don't like to think about it or talk about it, but we are all SINNERS!


February 16, 2020

Matthew 5:21-37

The Oft-Dreaded Subject of SIN

The Reading

Murder Begins in the Heart

21 “You have heard that it was said to those [a]of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother [b]without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’[c] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, [d]‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of [e]hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

Adultery in the Heart

27 “You have heard that it was said [f]to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to [g]sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to [h]sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Marriage Is Sacred and Binding

31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

Jesus Forbids Oaths

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of [j]old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let [k]your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

The Message

Today’s gospel reading reiterates what we already know is sinful. So rather than go down verse for verse and comment on each verse, I am approaching today’s message a little differently. During my early morning prayer and meditation and before even reading the gospel for today, God laid it in my heart to talk about the sin in our lives in a very different way.

In your heart of hearts, ask yourself how well you’ve done in keeping those New Year’s resolutions that you made just days ago. Kind of hard to do on your own in the hectic life that most of us maintain. And we are fast approaching the Lenten season and you will be thinking about “giving something up for Lent”. How’d your faithfulness go with that in years past? Neither example is necessarily a sin but shared to exemplify how we so easily get distracted from what we set out to do.

I AM a sinner and so are you. You don’t like identifying yourself as a sinner but that in no way alters the FACT. So perhaps the first important thing for us is to realize and admit that we are indeed sinners. You have heard me say many times that if you did not want to sin you would not sin. You are now probably thinking: “Whoa, pastor I do not want to sin” Really? Wouldn’t it be closer to the truth to say: “I do not want TO WANT to sin”? Think on that long and hard.

Very early on when I started pastoring a church in Vermont, a dear saint of a lady came to me after a service and said, “Pastor, I really want to forgive JOHN DOE, but I simply cannot.” There are things in all our lives that we say we would like to change but “we simply cannot”. I agree with that one hundred percent, if we admit that we cannot do it alone. We cannot overcome the habitual sins that we commit, because we cannot accept the fact that we want to but we don’t go to God saying, “God, I admit that I habitually say – do – think – or fail to do the long shopping list of those things that have us in their grip. I say that I do not want them, but the truth is that I DO NOT WANT TO WANT THEM. Lord, I am asking YOU to help me divest these things from my life.”

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