Summary: WE cannot fully understand GRACE unless we understand the depths of the fall.

The SIN of Thought

Matthew 5:21-22

To understand the gift of GRACE we have to discover the depths of SIN. Sometimes we think that sinning is only the dirty dozen or breaking the 10 Commandments. In the passage read this morning, we discover the Spirit of the Law. Jesus said, “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” Jesus brings to mind that it is not just the commission of the acts, but even the very thought of the act is SIN.

Thomas Costain’s history, The Three Edwards, describes the life of Raynald III, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium. Grossly overweight, Raynald was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means "fat." After a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size he couldn’t fit through the door. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. However, Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Everyday he wheeled before Raynald on a cart, the tastiest foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter from the food. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: "My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills." Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year, a prisoner of his own appetite.

There are many of us here today who are trapped by our own sinful desires, yet some of us don’t even realize that we are trapped or don’t know how trapped we are. SIN comes in a very delicious way, very tempting, looking good, justifying the actions. We are trapped and we need a way out. That sermon is several sermons away, first we need to know what has trapped us, what blocks us from a more fulfilled life in Christ.

In this passage he starts by dealing with anger, I am not going to start there. My thoughts varied this week as to which sin to start with. I have decided to use Galatians 5 and Proverbs 6:16ff

The first is comes from Proverbs 6:19

PR 6:19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

In Galatians 5 Paul starts this off by saying,

14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

One who stirs up dissension is like those who keep biting and devouring each other. He goes on later in the same chapter to lump several others with this sin. He says in verse 20,

20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy;

There are several that come with dissension; hatred, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy. All of these are the horse of the same color. All of these become a breeding group for divisions, strife, and chaos.

What is dissension? Roget’s Thesaurus uses words like opposition, disagreement, rebellion and conflict. In and of themselves they may not be wrong, but as Jesus tells it is not necessarily the deed, but the heart behind the deed as well. We can have disagreements without sowing dissension. So, what is it that brings a disagreement into dissension? One commentator puts it this way, “a state of affairs in which men are divided and feuds flourish.”

We have all heard of the feud between the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. It hit newspaper front pages in the 1880’s, when the Hatfield clan feuded with the McCoy clan from across the border in Kentucky. Historians disagree on the cause of the feud -- which captured the imagination of the nation during a 10-year run. Some cite Civil War tensions: McCoy’s sympathized with the Union, Hatfield’s with the Confederacy. Others say it began when the McCoy’s blamed the Hatfield’s for stealing hogs. As many as 100 men, women and children died.

In May 1976, Jim McCoy and Willis Hatfield -- the last two survivors of the original families -- shook hands at a public ceremony dedicating a monument to six of the victims.

Jim McCoy died Feb. 11, 1984, at age 99. He bore no grudges -- and had his burial handled by the Hatfield Funeral Home in Toler, KY.

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