A Better Righteousness
Jesus is talking about a better righteousness. He’s really expanding on what he taught in the Beatitudes.
- “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…”
- Jesus witnessed first-hand the corruption of the Jewish religion.
- The Jewish leaders emphasized keeping the “letter of the law” in the keeping of their traditions. Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:9
- They were hypocrites! Matthew 23:1-3
- Omitted the “weightier” matters, Matthew 23:23-24
- Self -Righteous, Romans 10:1-3,4
- Our righteousness must exceed their self-righteous attitude.
- Shall exceed = “go beyond” “of a higher caliber”
- Not simply keeping the letter of the law, but the spirit.
- This new law Jesus would usher in is a law written on hearts, spiritual in nature.
- Jeremiah 31:31-34
- “Ye Have heard it said…”
- Stated the Law of Moses, for the most part.
- Jesus is not arguing against Law of Moses.
- He IS arguing against their interpretation of the Law of Moses.
- “But I say unto you…”
- Not setting aside the saying, but showing the correct interpretation.
- And how to apply them.
- He is the source of all authority.
- In these verses we see a further expansion of the Beatitudes!
- A Better Righteousness begins with the Beautiful Attitudes
- Poor in spirit, mourning sin, meek, hunger for righteousness.
- Merciful, Pure in Heart, Peacemakers, Persecuted for Righteousness.
- As we observe these 6 statements of Jesus, lets try and see how they each relate to the different beatitudes.
6 Ways that Jesus Taught a Better Righteousness
▬ A Better Personal Relationship
- Statement: Matthew 5:21 “Thou shalt not kill… danger of the judgement.” (Exodus 20:13)
- Kill = murder.
- Judgment = Danger
- “Well, I didn’t actually kill him, but I wanted to.”
- Better Interpretation. “Attitudes Kill!” Matthew 5:22
- We should have the right attitudes – the Beatitudes.
- Angry = wroth.
- Found 2 other times in Matthew = righteous wrath of God.
- Same word translated Angry in Ephesians 4:16
- Angry Without a Cause.
- The Righteous anger of the Lord is with cause.
- Sometimes our anger is with cause, and there are some things / people we should be angry with. – Ephesians 4:16
- But this is anger without cause, prejudice, hatred…
- Progression shown here, with progressively worse results
- Angry, Contemptuous (“Raca”), Spiteful “thou fool”
- Judgment (court); Council (Jewish leaders); Hell-fire (eternal punishment)
- Carries same guilt as murder!
- Conclusion: Urgent because it affects our relationship with God. Matthew 5:23-26
- Application: Be Reconciled to your brother before you try to worship God.
- Matthew 18:15-17 shows how.
- Beatitudes – Poor in spirit, Peacemakers
▬ A Better Purity
- Statement: Matthew 5:27 (Exodus 20:14)
- Better Interpretation Matthew 5:28-29
- “Looketh… to lust after…”
- Leering… ogling… objectifying.
- Lust of the eyes, imagining fulfilling the lust of the flesh.
- “Adultery in… heart”
- Looking does not constitute adultery.
- Adultery is a physical act b/w 2 people.
- This is no physical adultery, but mental.
- Like with murder, it first begins in the heart.
- “Hand / eye offend thee…”
- Exaggerations to show how serious it can become if left unchecked.
- Make a covenant with your eyes. Job 31:1
- “Eyes in the boat…!” Look for money on the ground.
- Oglers, you may see some things that fulfill the lust of the flesh / eyes, but you WILL NOT see God!
- Blessed are the pure in heart!
- Who is responsible?
- Applies EQUALLY to men and women!
- The one who looks is 100% responsible for their own actions!
- The one who is looked at needs to be sure that what they are wearing is modest.
- Fashion doesn’t dictate modesty.
- Don’t wear clothing that is designed to appeal to the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life…” and you will not be contributing to another’s sin.
▬ A Better Fidelity
- Statement: Writing of divorcement, Exodus 24:1-4
- Implications was that a man could divorce his wife for any reason and be guiltless because he gave her a writing of divorce,
- A Better Interpretation:
- Causes her to commit adultery – if she remarries.
- Causes her new husband to be guilty.
- See Matthew 19:3-9
- Application: One man for one woman for life!
▬ A Better Honesty
- “shall not forswear they self…” – Leviticus 19:1-2; Deuteronomy 23:23
- A Better Interpretation:
- Don’t swear at all.
- “Jesus prohibits all forms of profanity. The Jews were past-masters in the art of splitting hairs about allowable and forbidden oaths or forms of profanity just as modern Christians employ a great variety of vernacular “cuss-words” and excuse themselves because they do not use the more flagrant forms.” -Robertson’s Word Pictures
▬ A Better Vengeance
- Statement: Matthew 5:38, (Exodus 21:24)
- Interpreted these statements so as to justify personal retribution!
- Applied them by frequently taking matters of revenge into their own hands — Just as many people do today!
- A Better Interpretation. Respond to evil by doing good! – Matthew 5:39-42
- Jesus illustrates this principle with several examples…
- Responding to physical abuse – Matthew 5:39
- “Turn the other cheek“
- Responding to a civil suit, by giving more than what the person is suing! – Matthew 5:40
- Responding to government oppression, by offering to do more than what is being demanded of you! – Matthew 5:41
- Responding to those asking for help, by giving them what they ask! Matthew 5:42
- Romans 12:19
▬ A Better Commandment
- Statement: Matthew 5:43
- The law did not say “hate your enemy“…
- It taught to “love your neighbor as yourself” – Leviticus 19:18
- It taught kindness was to be shown to your enemy. – Exodus 23:4-5
- They inferred from this command one had the right to “hate your enemy“
- A Better Way
- “Love” our enemies by showing “active good will” towards them.
- “Bless” those who curse you – speak well of them,m
- “Do Good” – treat them with kindness.
- “pray” for their well-being; for their salvation.
- Romans 12:17-18
- Romomans 12:20-21
- Be like our Father towards our enemies.
- We were once at enmity with God! Romans 5:6-11
Jack McNiel, Evangelist Oak Grove Church of Christ