Matthew 5c

Matthew 5 C:   I Know What’s Missing

“I’m going to fix this world today, because I know what’s missing..” ( He Took a 100 lbs. Clay, song recorded/written by Gene McDaniels, 1961)

“ I have set before you, life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” ( Moses speaking, Deut. 30:19b)

“ In Him (Lord Jesus) was life; and the life was the light of men.” ( John 1:4)

“ I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“ God is light, and in Him is no darkness…” ( IJohn 1)

Life requires light, it is a scientific fact. Regeneration, being born again requires revelation as to how this happens. ‘ Being born again, not of corruptible seed , but incorruptible, by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever.” ( I Peter 1:23)  We have been called out of darkness into light.  The instrument, the Spirit of God uses to implant in the human spirit the divine seed of the life of God is the Word of God. Is this not amazing? !

“ The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” ( Psalm 119:130, KJV)

In the Word of God the Christian finds everything  they need for salvation, sanctification and service. “ If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” ( John 8)

Does your soul pant for God as the deer pants for water?   His Word is alive and powerful. It is life changing, life giving and life transforming.  Here the Lord Jesus will tell us what  the Word of God says, He will tell us the Truth.  The truth is we are called to be, commanded to be salt and light.

Salt has many uses in our lives- in our bodies it helps retain fluids, which can be very important in situations where sweat is flowing due to heat and exertion. In fact salt creates thirst.  Salt is used as a preservative and keeps meat from decaying. It can also be an abrasive, helping us ( for example) maintain traction on snowy and icy roads. Salt also is used to enhance flavor.  Jesus said as believers we are ‘ the salt of the earth.’ Whereas, it seems we have our share of abrasive Christians, I wonder if we have too few who are adding a distinctive flavor to our world around us and it seems as if the world is in danger of becoming rotten to the core. Do people see in us something that makes them hunger and thirst for what we have? If salt loses its savor, its saltiness, it is good for nothing.

Then Jesus tells us we are the ‘ light of the world.’ In both of these descriptions of what we have become as believers, salt and light, notice Jesus did not say this was a gift some receive and some do not- he says it in such a way- this is what we now are and are expected to act as : salt and light in the time and place where God has put us. All believers are salt and light.

As Christians, we are to know what we believe and why we believe it. However, we need to know what to do about what we believe. In other words, we need to know how we are to behave.  Jesus told us: “ I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by  me. “ ( John 14)   He is showing us how to behave, for He is the Way. He is teaching us the truth, and when we comprehend the truth of how we are to behave, we realize we cannot do this in our own strength and power- we must depend on His life in us. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

It is only in functioning as salt and light, that the church can spread the gospel to the world, the whole earth.  Light was the first commandment given in the creation account. Light dispels darkness, it creates clarification.  Jesus is the light of the world, and whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.( John 8:12)  Here he tells us- we are the light of the world. Therefore, we are to continue what He has started.

His directions for how to utilize the light are clear. We are to put our light on a stand, not under a bowl. The two bowls we most often put our lights under is the bowl of willful sin and the bowl of indifference. Willful sin, says God I know it is wrong, but I am going to keep disobeying you. Be not deceive, God is not mocked, you will reap the consequences. Indifference is  not caring, apathetic. Not caring and being a Christian do not belong together. Sometimes we let the world of unbelievers or false religions show a more caring attitude than we, as Christians do. The story of the Good Samaritan teaches this truth and shows the Samaritan’s love for his neighbor, after a priest and a Levite passed him by, not wanting to get involved. Do you see how the Samaritan  showed he loved his neighbor?  By doing good works. This is exactly what Jesus tells us we are to do- ‘ we are to let our light shine before men, that they might see your good works, and praise your Father in heaven.’ No, we are not saved by good works, but Ephesians 2: 10 tells us we are  ‘ saved unto good works, which God has ordained you to walk in.” So we need to trim the wick which means to remove the dirt and grime of less-than satisfactory living.  Put off the old, put on the new. Replenish the oil, and make sure we are being fueled by the Holy Spirit. Then put it on a stand where the light can be seen, where it can do the most good.

And last but not least- we must look at our motivation. Examine our hearts- are we doing our good works for the right reason?  Is it to glorify our Father in heaven or ourselves?  Do we want people to see us in a good light or to see our Father in a good light? For He is the One who gave us the light, and is the giver of all good gifts , in whom there is no shadow or turning.

Jesus then begins to teach about the law. In this crowd, Jesus knows he has Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees who are listening to what he has to say for he has large crowds following him and is becoming a source of influence, and thus a threat to their power base.  He is also talking to a group of people he assumes know the moral laws.  For as Jews they have been taught the law since their youth.

Today the belief that God’s Word is absolute truth and contains the absolute moral standard for our behavior is no longer accepted by our society. We are no longer a nation that accepts the morals of the Law of God. Our society says there are no absolutes. ( What a contradictory statement, they have just stated an absolute.) In our enlightened 21st century, we have redefined moral standards. In fact, all you have to do is look at the decision of the Supreme Court in its ruling on pornography. It was in fact, a non-ruling, as they kicked the can down the road for fear of being accused of not separating religion from government. What it ruled was it was up to the local government to decide what was pornographic and what was not. In other words set your own moral standards, we are free to make up our own minds about what is moral and what is immoral.  And as result we have become an ‘ amoral nation.’ A nation with no moral standards.  The result is chaos.  We have forsaken the fruit of the Tree of Life and are eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, deciding for ourselves what is good and what is evil.

When parents  teach the moral laws in the home and they are not reinforced by society in the school, the church,  the government, enertainment and business- the result is confusion and chaos. (And imagine when there are no moral absolutes taught in the home by absentee parents.) When a society rejects Gods’ clear standards set forth in the 10 commandments, we are in trouble. We have passed laws now that are directly opposed to God’s moral laws.   Paul tells us: “ Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” ( Romans 1:32)

“ Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them . I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. ….For I tell you unless your righteousness surpasses the righteousness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17&18, and 20)

God is the One who gave us the Law. Jesus  endorses the Law of God -100%. We are talking about the 10 Commandments. God gave us 10 commandments that are still the core of his moral law. They are just as relevant today as they were then. In fact, the Lord Jesus says they will last forever.  Some people think, well I do not recognize this God of the Bible so I do not have to keep these laws. It does not matter if you don’t like the lawmaker, if you choose to disobey His laws- you will suffer the consequences.

As a result, our society in the 21st century has rejected God’s law and is in a state of free fall into moral chaos. Everyone has become a law unto himself.  Yet Moses told Israel this regarding the Law:  “ I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws. I have set before you- life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life , so that you and your children might live.” ( Deut. 30)

Now a word to Christians who believe, well my sins are forgiven and I am no longer under the law, but under grace.  Paul says we should no longer live in sin, and he says absolutely NO to those who say  where sin abounds, grace abounds more.  He says God forbid we should live any longer in sin having died to it. Freedom from the law does not mean I have the license to do what I please. It means I now obey God out of love for Him and what He has done, rather than out of fear of His wrath.  I choose not to sin, because I love God more than I love sin.  In fact when we sin, we are saying the opposite- I love my sin more than I love you God.

Jesus then proceeds to set up a contrast between what they have been taught and what is the correct interpretation.  In doing so, Jesus will reveal that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.  For out of our deceitful hearts that are desperately wicked comes  ‘ evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. These are what makes a man unclean…” ( Matthew 16) He is telling us He can fix our world today- because He knows what’s missing.

“ You have heard that it was said by them of  old time, do not kill ( KJV) [murder, NIV]  and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment. But I say to you, That whosoever is angry with his brother  without a  cause shall be in danger of judgment, and whososever shall say to his brother, ‘ Raca, shall be in danger of the council but whosoever shall say, you fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Do you understand what Jesus is saying here?  He is saying here the sinful act of murder is not only prohibited, the sinful thought is prohibited. Why?  Because out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality.. Notice the anger is without cause. There is righteous anger, and we are told to be angry, but sin not. We should be angry over the mistreatment of people, angry and sad over sin and its devastating consequences.

The Lord Jesus says this kind of unrighteous anger must be taken seriously. Did you know most murders are committed by family members? It has been that way since Cain slew his brother Abel. And do you remember what occurred  prior to this first murder?  Cain’s offering was not accepted, Abel’s was. “ Cain was very angry. And the Lord said to Cain, “ Why are you angry? Why is your face so downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” ( Gen. 4)

Do you see how this type of anger preceded the first murder?  If you do not deal with this anger, you are in danger of judgment. You are standing at the edge of a slippery slope. Sin is personalized in the Genesis 4 and displayed as a beast crouching at the door ready to attack. Although you may not commit physical murder- you might lash out with angry words, slander, words of hatred, hurtful words that can kill something in the soul of that other person. It can also cause you to kill a relationship when words you cannot take back have gone forth like a sharp sword and cut the other person.

This anger is dividing our nation and the world. This kind of anger is destructive. When our leaders  in government insult one another, when one group is angered at another group, then the followers take up the offense and the results are disastrous. We live in a divided nation, and divided communities.  Hateful words tossed back and forth like bombs dropped on each other causing all types of injury and  fall out.

Anger can be an explosive force that can wreak havoc in families and society and a community. Righteous anger that does not sin, can be a force for good and for change.  Too often Christians have looked at society’s problems and experienced the wrong kind of anger that only causes further division instead of righteous anger that does not sin but works for good. Example:  The angry crowd shouting at the women entering an abortion clinic are expressing righteous anger in the wrong way- they have not helped the person in trouble. Righteous anger that does not sin offers  the love of Christ to a hurting young woman caught in a difficult situation and offers constructive alternatives, i.e. , Birth Choice.

When a nation and a people determine they will decide for themselves what is good and what is evil- then you can bet two things will always be involved. – sex and money.  We have to remember sex is a divine creation.  God saw it was not good for man to be alone, so He created a suitable helpmate for Adam.  Sex is a facet of love, yet like anger it is also a powerful force. Since God created it and it was for our good, He gives us the rules by which it is to operate. Sexual fulfillment is God’s design for the marriage relationship. Therefore our Creator has given us the manual of instructions in His Word as to how to properly use what He has given us. Thus, God says we are not to commit adultery. Sex outside marriage is forbidden.

Here Jesus tells us where sexual sin starts- with lust in our hearts.  Love longs to give. Lust longs to take for our own selfish desires.   Lust says I love me and want this person for me. God created Eve so that Adam could give himself to her.  This would bring his greatest sense of fulfillment.

When Jesus talks about gouging out your eye or cutting off your hand, was he advising self-mutilation?  No, he is talking about the opposite of lust and selfishness, he is talking about denial. Remember that one of the fruits of the Spirit is – self control.  This means we have to be careful what we allow to come in through our eyes, as well as our other senses. I do not have to physically cut off my hand or gouge out my eye- these senses must be denied when they arouse the wrong type of desires.  How do we do this?  We are to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh so we may not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Also be practical  : Cut off the sources as much as depends upon you.  Change the channel- don’t go there!

When we decided for ourselves what is good and what is evil without Gods’ moral law as our guideline- we will sooner or later decide on what pleases self.   In Genesis 13, Abraham and Lot part ways. Abraham lets Lot choose where he wants to go and he will take what is left. In essence, Abraham was allowing God to choose for him.  Lot looked at the whole plain of Jordan and saw that it was well watered like the garden of the Lord and like Egypt.  So ‘ Lot chose for himself…”

God has told us what His way is- and Moses told us I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses—choose life.  We need to learn the principle of denial  and self-control. For self, the old man, the flesh wants to choose the way that seems right to the old nature- it is the way that leads to death.

What  a clear picture of the carnal Christian is presented to us in the story of Israel and their deliverance from Egypt in the book of Exodus. Part of us longs to live and thrive in the Promised Land and part of us at times lusts for the leeks, onions and garlic of Egypt. Part of us longs to hold on tight to the Lord Jesus Christ, while another part does not want to let go of the world. These two natures inhabit every believer. The conflict between these two natures is what Paul writes from his own experience in Romans 7. In fact a distraught Paul cries out – who will deliver  him from this body of death? Who will rescue him? The answer of course is the Lord Jesus Christ, He is our Deliverer.

Thoughts lead to behavior. Behavior is what determines our character. Character is determines our decisions. And life is made up of a series of decisions. Where we aim our thoughts is generally where we end up.  Our lives today are more or less the outcome of what we have thought through the years until this very moment.

And what comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.   This is why our minds must be transformed.

You are what you think about— it is your choice what you decide to set your mind on.

The Lord says I can fix your world today- I know what’s missing!

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14