The First Reality
Posted on 03/19/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
This is the day the Lord has made, let's rejoice and be glad in it together.
Stand to your feet and click-touch the pulpit, and let's worship the Lord together.
Father God, thank you for your presence here with us today. Thank you that where two or more are gathered together in your name, you're there in the middle of us.
Accept our offering of praise today, Lord, may it be as sweet-smelling incense to you. Purify our hearts just a little more today, so we can be a little more like Jesus.
And it's in the precious name of Jesus we pray.
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I EXALT THEE
For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
You are exalted far above all gods.
And I exalt thee, I exalt thee, I exalt thee
TO HIM WHO SITS ON THE THRONE
To him who sits on the throne
and unto the Lamb
To him who sits on the throne
and unto the Lamb
Be blessing and honor and glory
and power forever
Jesus, Jesus, Holy and
anointed one, Jesus
Your name is like honey
on my lips
Your Spirit like water
to my soul
Your Word is a lamp
unto my feet
Jesus I love you
I love you
Lord, you are great, and greatly to be praise! May we worship you with our lips, our hands, our minds, our souls, and our lives.
You may be seated, as we prepare to go to God's Word.
Today we're going to pick up where we left off week before last. We've been going through one of Jesus' sermons which he ended by saying,
"If you hear the words I have just spoken to you and live by them, you're like a wise person who builds your house on a rock. The rains will fall, the floods will come, and the winds will blow and beat upon your house, but it will stand because it is founded on the solid rock.
If, on the other hand, you hear these words I have just spoken to you and do NOT live by them, you're like a foolish person who builds your house on the sand. The rains will fall, the floods will come, and the winds will blow and beat upon your house, and it will fall, and the destruction will be great."
The words Jesus had just spoken must be important words indeed, since by living by them we will not be shaken by whatever life throws our way, and by NOT living by them, we are guaranteed failure and destruction.
Today we are going to take a look at Matthew chapter five, verses 21 through 30. Put on your listening ears today, because these words of life from the Master will give you a firm foundation if you live by them, but will leave you in personal ruins if you let them fall to the wayside.
Let's read together starting in verse 21:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.
And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of judgement. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell."
First Jesus tells us that if we are angry with someone without just cause, we are comitting murder in our heart. I think this is pretty clear, so we won't spend much time on it.
What does "without cause" really mean? Personally, I believe that Christians were not committing murder in their hearts when they were angry with Hitler for murdering the Jews. Sometimes anger is good, and can motivate us to positive action.
On the other hand, getting angry with someone for going too slowly in the passing lane or for being in front of you in the express grocery checkout with too many items, is being angry without just cause.
Each person must answer to God for themselves, and we should not sin against our conscience. But for me, having feelings of anger is natural, especially after a long, hard day. But holding on to those feelings is wrong -- it is murder of the heart.
Next Jesus says, "Whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of judgement. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.
Well, most of us are pretty safe with the first one, since most of us don't even know what 'Raca' means and certainly wouldn't think to call anyone that.
The meaning of 'Raca' is empty-headed, an idiot, a dummy. Ah, now it hits home. If anyone here has never said this about anyone, speak to me after the service, you are a rare specimin indeed!
So if we are calling others stupid idiots, even under our breath as we slam on the breaks after they pull right out in front of us, we are in danger of being judged.
In our vocabulary, "idiot" and "fool" are pretty much the same thing, but Jesus says if we call someone a fool, we put ourselves in danger of hell. So what does "fool" really mean?
The first meaning in Strong's Greek Lexicon is "foolish" which doesn't really tell us anything. The second meaning, however, sheds an interesting light on the subject.
"Foolish" in this verse can mean "impious, Godless". And who among us has not been guilty of accusing someone, perhaps just under our breath, of being Godless? Or perhaps just not as spiritual as we?
Scripture instructs us to correct the brother or sister who is living in sin, and even to shut off fellowship if they refuse to repent. But how often do we see someone worshiping, or not worshiping in a way we think is right, and have thought they were unspiritual or fleshly or misled?
We're very quick to judge others. It makes us feel more justified ourselves. But be careful, brothers and sisters, because by accusing others of being unGodly when all we have is a few differences can put you in danger of being without God yourself... forever.
Jesus goes on to say, "if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift and first be reconciled to your brother, and then come offer your gift."
We can do all the spiritual things we wish, but if our relationships are not right, we are most unspiritual indeed. Be quick to be at peace with everyone, as much as it is in your power to do so, and thereby you will be able to be at peace with God.
Jesus continues by saying, "Agree with your enemy quickly, while you are on the road with him, lest he or she deliver you to the judge, who hands you over to the officer, who throws you in prison."
Unforgiveness is the most horrible prison of all. Countless souls are locked up in this prison, and they are unable to come to Jesus, unable to find peace, unable to find forgiveness, because you or someone else in their life has them locked up in a prison of unforgiveness.
Once again, we should remember to make peace whenever peace is within our power, gaining a God's-eye-view of life and life's issues by spending time in his Word, in prayer, and in worship, so that we can have mercy and forgiveness on others, just as mercy and forgiveness have been poured out on us without measure.
Next Jesus gets very personal. He gets us men where it hurts. To the women, many of you may not understand the struggle men go through, or perhaps you think men are simply perverts. But God created us to be visually-oriented, and when this natural wiring is used correctly, it is a beautiful thing that can bring husband and wife closer together.
But when it is used wrongly, it destroys marriages, destroys ministries, destroys families, destroys lives, and ultimately destroys souls forever in hell.
Jesus says, "You have heard it said 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Perhaps that's not so bad, do you suppose? Let's continue reading...
"If you right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell."
Sounds like Jesus is taking this whole lust thing rather seriously. Is he advocating dismemberment? Hardly. What he's saying here is that we should do whatever it takes to cut ourselves off from sin.
Is the Internet a stumbling block for you? Then have it shut off, or subscribe to an accountability program which monitors your Internet activity.
Is the television a stumbling block for you? Donate it to the Salvation Army or take it apart and turn it into a fish tank. Shut off your cable and only rent Godly, family-friendly videos.
Scripture does not pretend, like we do, that we are more manly if we stare in the face of temptation and act like we have power over it. That's not manly, that's just plain stupid.
Rather, Scripture tells us to RUN AWAY from temptation. Don't look back! Set your eyes on Jesus and on the path he has layed out before you, or perhaps on seeking him until he reveals that path to you.
For those among us who are trapped in lustful addictions, we will be starting a workshop very soon. Be watching the announcements.
Women, don't think you're off the hook here just because you may not have this problem. Remember that "wonderful man" who you wish your husband were like? While men lust with the eyes, women lust with the emotions. Steer your heart toward the man with whom God has joined you together as one. Women are commanded to respect their husbands, and complete emotional faithfulness is a wonderful place to begin.
Jesus makes it clear that sin does not begin on the outside, rather sin begins on the INSIDE. What we do in our minds, or on the Internet, is just as much sin as if we did it in the physical.
Don't be fooled, imagination is the first reality. That's why Scripture tells us to bring EVERY THOUGHT captive to the obedience of Christ.
At this time I will ask the ministry team to come stand across the front. All of us are in need of ministry, that's why we have one another. There's no shame in asking for help. The only true shame is in needing help but being too proud to ask for it.
This altar is open for ministry and prayer. Come and kneel here in the virtual world, and in the physical world. And instant message one of the ministry team for prayer and ministry.
In a few minutes we'll all meet next door for a time of fellowship.
May the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.