Presentation on theme: "Presentation 19. Introduction On many computers diagnostic tools are left running in the background in order to warn when there is a problem that needs."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction On many computers diagnostic tools are left running in the background in order to warn when there is a problem that needs to be corrected. The user has no idea there is a problem until a message flashes up on the screen. Jesus views the law of God is an essential diagnostic tool for the well being of our spiritual lives. Whether or not we break it or keep it, or encourage others to do so, says a great deal about our spiritual condition.
Presentation 19 Introduction We have already noted that the religious teachers of Jesus’ day were concerned that Jesus had come to destroy, or set aside, the law. However, from v21ff we see that Jesus, instead of destroying the law, is in fact deepening demands of law. He is saying, "You are swimming in the superficial shallows of righteousness my purpose is to draw you out into the depths of the demands which God’s law places upon you”.
Presentation 19 Introduction Jesus recognised that a great divide stood between him and the teachers of the law. Jesus did not see himself to be contradicting God’s law - he never does that! What he does do is to contradict the narrow interpretation and spurious additions to God’s law made by men. How can we say that? The clue is found in Jesus’ language. Here, we do not find him using his favourite introductory formula when appealing to scripture, ‘It is written...’
Presentation 19 Introduction Indeed, v21 can be translated ‘you have heard that it was said by the people long ago,’ so that Jesus is taking issue, not with scripture, nor with the authors of scripture, but with those who interpreted the scriptures and built around them a variety of human traditions and inadequate interpretations. It is therefore the traditional teaching of the Rabbis which comes under Jesus’ scrutiny. Jesus identifies himself here as the true teacher and supreme interpreter of God’s word.
Presentation 19 What Is Murder? The first example of an inadequate understanding, to which Jesus draws attention, is murder. The law forbids murder. And the rabbis asked, as men do today, ‘What is murder?’ When is murder, really murder? The practical effect of this question is a narrowing down of the definition and in the process we conclude that it applies to very few people and certainly not to us! The Pharisee's taught, that as long as you don't take someone's life, as long as you did not pull the trigger or drive home the knife then you've kept the sixth commandment.
Presentation 19 What Is Murder? Such a person considers himself able to puff out your chest and look down his nose at people who have broken the command and say, “I'm a decent person not a foul murderer.” Think of the rich young ruler who said, “I've kept the commands from youth up..” Our own society shares this narrow view of the sixth commandment. In a satirical poem about attitudes to the commandments Arthur Clough writes; “Thou shalt not kill but need not strive officially to keep alive”. A child is aborted in the UK. every 2 minutes. Is that not murder?
Presentation 19 What Is Murder? Murder is not just an act but an attitude of heart. The Pharisees’ primary concern was with actions, Jesus’ was with motives. Jesus explains that the commandment not only forbids the outward act but also every thought or word that seeks to destroy a man’s life. Jesus taught that wrong heart attitudes result in wrong actions cf. Mk. 7v21. The classic example in scripture is Cain's murder of his brother Able. It flowed from an inward attitude towards an outward action for jealousy, resentment and anger led to murder.
Presentation 19 What Is Murder? Because the law of God deals with our motives as well as our actions it is possible to commit murder in our hearts. Have you ever said or heard someone say, "I wish he were dead". For Jesus, to kill with a knife, or to take part in character assassination, or to belittle another by calling him a fool, is part and parcel of the same spiritual sickness. All of these belong to the family of murder in the eyes of God. Oh a great many people may be restrained from the act of murder by, fear, reputation, or consequences but in the eyes of God the sixth Commandment can be broken in our heart.
Presentation 19 Jesus' Exposition Driving home the inwardness of the command Jesus makes a startling application in v22, anger with one’s brother = murder. That must have caused a few jaws to drop. We must not dilute Jesus’ meaning. He is not saying anger is wrong because it can lead to murder but rather that in the eyes of God it is the equivalent of murder. We live increasingly in an angry society. A social commentator writes, “Anger covers much of contemporary society with an ugly black volcanic slag”.
Presentation 19 Jesus' Exposition There is no need not travel to the flash points of violence in our world to see corruption. All we need do is look within our own hearts. Whenever we deliberately belittle someone we reveal the animosity and hatred of our heart towards them; well that is murder!!! Sadly, we so often treat the damage we do with our lips very lightly because we do not see the corpses which we leave behind.
Presentation 19 Jesus' Exposition Is Jesus suggesting that all anger is wrong? No! Think of the righteous anger that Jesus displayed in the temple. Paul, tells us to be angry in Eph. 4v26. Luther spoke of “an anger of Love, one that wishes no one any evil, one that is friendly to the person but hostile to the sin”. The Psalmist writes, “love the Lord and hate evil” Ps 97v10. A failure to be angry with evil and saying, ‘it doesn't matter’ is a sure sign of moral decadence. But we must be careful to distinguish between our anger with someone's sin and anger with their person. Only anger with his sin is legitimate.
Presentation 19 Jesus' Exposition Jesus makes this distinction in v22b for anger can cause us to treat a person with contempt. Two important terms are used, ‘raca’ meaning ‘empty contempt for a man's worth’ and ‘moros’, a term, implying a person is a ‘moral moron’, hence a slur against his reputation. We can destroy a person with words- destroying both his self worth and his worth before men. Anger, which can reveal itself in verbal insult either to a person's face or behind his back is little more than an expression of desire to crush someone who stands in our way. “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer” 1Jn. 3v15. Searching words!
Presentation 19 How To Deal With Anger It is therefore of great practical importance to ask, “How do we deal with anger?” First, having discovered its existence, we need to be persuaded of its seriousness. Jesus’ ministry constantly made men face up to their true heart condition. He was not the sort of physician who told a man with cancer that all he had was a common cold. Jesus wanted his hearers to understand what the true state of their hearts health really was.
Presentation 19 How To Deal With Anger Jesus recognised that it was important for his hearers to see that when they flew into a rage they would inevitably make a bad landing. Many people find it difficult to face up to their anger. It is also probably true that people take greater care to window dress their anger than any other sin. And they will go to significant lengths to justify it. Benjamin Franklin was clearly aware of this when he wrote; “Anger is never without reason but seldom with a good one.” We need to admit its existence before we can effectively deal with it.
Presentation 19 How To Deal With Anger Secondly, we must act immediately. Jesus uses vivid pictures in v23ff to indicate that anger must not be allowed to fester. It must be dealt with immediately. The first illustration used is of a man presenting his gift in the temple but he is not enjoying fellowship with his brother. Jesus tells us he should be reconciled with his brother first before attempting to bring his worship to God. Why? Because what we are before God involves how we are related to others. If we are at odds with others we cannot come into God’s presence with clean hands and a pure heart.
Presentation 19 How To Deal With Anger The second illustration describes two men who are encouraged to make an out of court settlement rather than be caught up in a protracted court case! It is best to deal with enmity sooner rather than later. Enmity is a time bomb that should be diffused before it explodes and causes irreparable damage. Most broken human relationships could have been preserved it those involved had acted quickly enough. Angry thoughts fester and become malignant cf. Eph.4 v26 The longer we delay the more difficult it is to deal with entrenched roots of bitterness.
Presentation 19 How To Deal With Anger We need to learn how to deal with injustices for injustice or misunderstandings often lies at the root of estrangement. And so we must do what we can to correct what is producing our anger. Be prepared to make amends and where necessary to apologise. Think of the response of Zacchaeus after his conversation with Jesus. Luke 19v8. Now what if the other person maintains a white hot anger towards us? What if they refuse reconciliation? Do we change our attitude towards them? Are we then justified in getting our own back? No. cf. Rom.12v18-21
Presentation 19 Conclusion People who are conscious of their anger often want to suppress it and hold it down as much as they can. But that's about as effective as trying to plug an active volcano with a cork. It will not prevent an eruption. This is a problem that flows from our heart and we must ask God to change our heart. Only he is able to control the volcanic activity, to remove the build up of pressure by imparting a love for the person we are in danger of resenting. This is why it is important to surrender our heart to Jesus for transformation for only a divine and not a human solution can free us from malignant anger and its consequences.