The Battle for Righteousness Matthew 5:20-26

June 22, 2008

INTRODUCTION – As we jump back into our series in the gospel of Matthew, keeping our theme “Truly great in 2008” in view, I want to quickly review where we have been, so we have context for where we are going.
Jesus Christ – knowing that His time on earth is short, and knowing that His disciples must carry on His mission upon His departure, and knowing that the forces of hell will come against them, is seeking to build a culture of kingdom character and purpose that will enable them to not only enter into and experience all the blessings of His kingdom, but also to expand it.. That’s what we see in the first 11 vs. of ch. 5 – typically called the Beattitudes, followed by a few verses on the role His disciples play in the world as salt and light.

Our last discussion in this series revolved around the commandments of God or the whole topic of obedience to the word and will of God. (read Matt. 5:17-19) This is one of many passages in the gospels where Jesus makes very clear how crucial every word of God is for us to be able to know and follow Him.
We determined that those who are great in the kingdom of God are those who have learned to become obedience trainers. They not only seek to obey the Lord themselves, but they also try to help others do the same.

Vs. 20 picks up the theme of righteousness again – implying that righteousness and the keeping of God’s commandments are connected at the hip. (read vs. 20)

The theme of righteousness in Matthew. (13x’s); righteousness – 7 x’s.
Joseph was a righteous man – 1:19
Jesus insisted that John baptize him “to fulfill all righteousness” – 3:15
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” 5:6
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 5:10
And now vs. 20.

Because of Jesus’s emphasis on true righteousness and His ongoing exposure of the bankruptcy of the righteousness of the Pharisses and Scribes – – you will note an ever increasing tension between the Pharisees and Jesus, which ultimately will culminate in His death.
There have always been, and there always will be religious leaders who will try to redefine righteousness – to fit and support their unrighteous lifestyle. Their emphasis will always be on form and outer works – rarely touching on inner righteousness – – the purity of one’s thought life and motives, etc.
Unfortunately their influence will keep many from entering the kingdom of God.
Paul and the Corinthians.
I Cor. 6:9,10 “…the unrighteous shall not enter the kingdom of God.” Corinthians very arrogant about this.

The more I study the scriptures, the less credence I put in a person’s testimony that they prayed some prayer or made some decision when they were a child or a young person – – when I see little evidence of true righteousness in their every day life.,
To make sure we have no confusion whatsoever and are able to enter the kingdom of God – Jesus Christ begins to give a number of illustrations of true righteousness.

I. Committing murder re-defined (vs. 21-22)
The seriousness of unrestrained anger – an internal state – possibly not known to anyone but the angry person

Saying is as bad as slaying?

Murder in God’s eyes is an internal attitude or though process that may never result in anything more than angry demeaning words

The words are said to the person.

So what if I have said something like this to someone and I am getting ready to go off to a church service or Bible study, or maybe just getting ready to have my quiet time??

II. Reconciliation must precede worship (vs. 23,24)
No amount of sacrifice in worship will cover over an un-dealt with offense against one of God’s creation.

A true worshipper will not just care about his relationship and standing with God; but he will also care about his relationship and standing with men.

III. Mediation always trumps the courtroom (vs. 25,26)
Quick, humble, person to person reconciliation is God’s ideal – rather than having to let the legal process kick in.

CONCLUSION – True righteousness demands that we see and feel about every person we relate to as God sees and feels about them.

Bad attitudes must be confessed and cleansed.

Wrong words uttered must be confessed to the person offended.

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