Saturday, February 11, 2017

Epiphany 6

Epiphany 6
12 February 2017
Matthew 5:27-37
“The Heart of the Matter”

In two days, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day.  The day we commemorate matters of the heart. As we continue will Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we see Jesus’ instruction concerning the attitude of the Christian’s heart.

Last month, many witnessed the inauguration of our president. In subsequent days, we have witnessed the swearing in of various members of his cabinet.  What do we make of it when we are called upon to speak, when we ourselves might be put “under oath?” For the follower of Christ, whose heart is pure, some might suggest, there is no need for an oath.[1]

In civil life, because of the untruth in the world, the State, which has to deal with all man, must require an oath. As we look at Jesus’ instruction, He gives us this assurance. In the areas of Christian morality, He makes clear, the heart of the matter. And, the heart of the matter, is a holy heart, only intent on performing the Father’s will as an act in love.

1.       Jesus made us His disciples.
2.       Jesus calls for a holy heart.
3.       Jesus calls for a heart totally intent on doing the Father’s will.
4.       Jesus desires a heart that does the Father’s will.  

1.       Jesus made us His disciples.
A.      Jesus came to seek and claim you to be His own.
1.       Discipleship then is a gift of His grace.
2.       Discipleship places Christ’s claim of grace on you. You are His. Because of His amazing grace.  
B.      Jesus has the authority to make disciples.
1         He lived a life of wholehearted commitment to the Father’s will for your life.
2         He gave His perfect life in exchange and payment for your sin.
3         His Holy Spirit gives you a new heart. A heart intent on doing the will of the Father.

2         Jesus calls for a holy heart. The source of a life in keeping with our discipleship.
A.      Jesus condemns the Scribes. Who interpreted the Law. Only to avoid and sidestep its full intent. They externalized the law. They looked for forms and specifics. They had a rule. For every circumstance. Given any situation. They had the perfect response. They had rules to live by. Yet their interpretation fell short. With respect to the 5th and 6th Commandments. True. They kept the commandments. But only as a matter of an outward act of obedience. Not a matter of the heart.
1.       They would argue. They had NOT committed murder. They had NOT committed adultery.
2.       But inward, they were guilty of hatred and lust. They supported the temple. With lavish gifts. Yet they shamelessly cheated widows out of their property. They purposely defrauded their parents. (Mark 7:11) Yet, for a pretense, they made elaborate prayers. (Mark 12:40)   They criticized those caught in adultery. Yet each had a mistress. (John 8:9) They rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released. They killed the Author of life. Yet God raised Him up.  (Acts 3:15)
3.       This passive aggressive behavior condemned them.   
B.      Thus, Jesus teaches an important lesson. Outward piety is not enough. Our hearts must be pure. No matter how outwardly pious we might appear to others. The Father sees and judges the heart.
C.      We continually need to have the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts that we may live properly. Following not only the letter of the law but also more importantly, the spirit of the law.  

3         Jesus calls for a heart totally intent on doing the Father’s will.
A.      Jesus condemns the Scribes who interpreted the law so as to evade its full intent. They had regulations and prescriptions for every condition of life.
B.      The reason their ways for conducting their live and judgment what was moral failed the test of the Savior. Our condition of original sin clouds our judgment. Human rationalizing is no substitute for the divine requirement. Situation ethics in which “love” determines “right or wrong” won’t work. Our sin makes it impossible for us to love, as we ought. “Doing your best” is not good enough. No matter how acceptable it may be to the world. Our sin condemns us before God.
C.      It is because Jesus was “wholly intent on doing the Father’s will” that we are His today. “You did not choose Me, but I have chosen you…” Says Jesus, “…and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…”  (John 15:16)

4      Jesus calls today for a heart that does the Father’s will in every aspect of living.                
A.      Jesus condemns the scribes who sought to exclude the Father’s claim over every aspect of their lives. “Does it matter what oath I take?” They asked. Jesus is not concerned on whether an oath was taken. But whether the heart is pure.
B.      What Jesus teaches is that we cannot compartmentalize our lives. We cannot exclude God from any area of our speaking or doing.  What we say and do on Saturday night and Monday morning are as much under the claim and judgment of God as what we say and do on Sunday. We must order all of what we do and say under the watchful eye of the Savior who has promised to order our days.
C.      For us He died. That we might live for Him. As you serve Him. You do so in Jesus’ Name. “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” –

Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We have this righteousness in Jesus Christ. In Him, we live to His glory.

Words – 1,065
Passive Sentences – 5%
Reading Ease – 77%
Reading Level – 4.5

[1] The argument of the Amish community as well as some Quakers.

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