Wednesday, May 21, 2014

God’s Standard Of Righteousness

Matthew 5:27-37

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.  And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. ” (Matthew 5:27-30)

Laws can only deal with actual physical actions, but true righteousness comes from the heart.  While the law forbid committing adultery, Jesus said that just daydreaming about it was in fact adultery in the heart and God looks on the heart.   Since we can’t see what is in aperson’s heart until he acts on it, we cant judge whether a person is righteous or not.  In I Corinthians 4:5, Paul commanded, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”

If a person cannot control his eye, it would be better to put it out so his sin did not cause him to go to hell than to wind up in hell because of lust.  In the same way, it would be better to have a hand cut off and go through life without it than to go to hell because one couldn’t or wouldn’t control his hands.  The earthly mutilation would be only temporary, but hell is for eternity.

“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32)

Because the law was limited to actions and could not produce true righteousness, it allowed people to divorce and remarry, but Jesus said if they divorced, they place their mate in position of potential lust and mental adultery.  If the mate remarried, both she and the new mate were guilty of adultery.  He addressed the issue again when the Pharisees asked his opinion on the subject in Matthew 19:4-9.

“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:4-9)

Divorce was never part of God’s plan, and was not to be considered unless the mate had committed adultery.  To divorce for any other reason and remarry was to commit adultery oneself, and whoever married the divorced person was guilty of adultery because God has never given mankind authority over marriage, either to marry them or to divorce them.  He has kept that power for himself.

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matthew 5:33-37)

The law forbade their perjuring themselves by breaking their oath.  Jesus said they were not to take the oath in the first place, because God, and not they had the final say in what happened.  They were to limit their commitments to yes and no with no qualifying factors.  To do more was sin.

James 4:13-16 addresses the same point.  “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.  It is quite arrogant to believe we can make such commitments without considering God.  We can’t even control the things we use as a basis for our oath.  How can we even consider taking such an oath?

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