Text: Matthew 5:21-26
God is concerned with the spirit and the heart of the person. And while the outside can appear right, the inside can be a complete wreck at the same time. The Lord Jesus Christ is going to deal with matters of the heart and of the spirit and he’s going to show you how those matters of the heart and spirit betray themselves in everyday examples. Now, everyone here is familiar with your temper getting out of control and you doing something you regret. What you hopefully learned from that episode is that an uncontrolled angry spirit is more expensive than you can afford. That is the specific point of these verses.
The law’s jurisdiction (vs 21)
- Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13) is the sixth commandment.
- This law could only measure behavior. But it wasn’t able to weigh the spirit before the crime was committed. It could only attempt to measure it after a crime was committed.
- Proverbs 16:2 …the LORD weigheth the spirits.
- Most people can say, I’ve never killed anyone. Some people say we’re not under the law, we’re under grace, but Jesus Christ doesn’t loosen the law, he tightens it up. Where the law engraved in stone identified behavior. The LORD is a quickening spirit who doesn’t identify behavior, he identifies heart problems, unclean spirits.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ….because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
- BEING righteous is much harder than LOOKING righteous.
The Lord’s judgment (vs 22)
- But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause…
- The Lord Jesus Christ is describing righteousness internally; he’s talking about the sanctification of the Spirit. An unclean angry spirit inside of them will get them into trouble with the law and could even be the sin that keeps some away from eternal life. Allow an angry unclean spirit to control your thoughts and attitudes and it will cost you.
- Without cause is unjustified wrath and that is important because being angry is not a sin, but being angry without a cause is devilish. Some other words for it may be cruelty, malice, envy, bitterness, or hatred.
- Someone who is happy who you don’t think deserves to be happy.
- The LORD bless a person that you don’t think deserves a blessing. (The Lord said the devil tried to convince him to destroy Job without cause. Solomon said don’t strive with a man without cause, if he hasn’t harmed you in any way.)
- Someone gets a raise that you didn’t get and you get mad at them.
- Someone has children and you don’t. Or someone has better children than yours and it ticks you off.
- For a pastor, someone has a bigger and better church than I’m pastoring and I envy them and hate them for it.
- Someone is better looking than you and you hate them for it.
- Someone has more money than you and you envy them.
- These all describe the emotion, the spirit, that has the potential to become a behavior problem.
- Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
- Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
- If the emotion is not met with truth, then it becomes an idol and a behavior.
- You do what you can to nurse that feeling. You offer sacrifices to your idol. You justify revenge. Malicious thoughts consume you.
- You forgot James said, the wrath of man doesn’t work the righteousness of God.
- Proverbs 14:17 He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly…
When the unclean spirit becomes behavior, there is a cost
- The wife who is in other people’s business gossips to her hot-head husband all the ways people hurt her or just gossip about people she doesn’t like.
- A child who lies about someone else so they don’t get in trouble themselves.
- The preacher who is envious and begins to destroy the other pastor with his mouth. Solomon said, An angry man stirreth up strife…
- Now, the unclean spirit has a voice, and a behavior, and it will manifest itself at great cost.
- First, there may be a legal cost involved if you can’t get control of your anger. To be in danger of judgment is a legal matter. This is not the great white throne judgment. This is a legal matter. See it in verses 25-26 as well. There are legal consequences for destroying someone with your mouth because you wish you were them or you hate them.
- Second, there can be social or religious costs. The council is almost every time a description of religious leadership. And Raca is a specific accusation with contempt. But remember the accuser has no grounds for this other than they hate the one their accusing.
- When the truth comes out and your accusations turn out to be just a product of your hatred. Socially, people stop being your friend. And in an organized spiritual structure, you’ll be ostracized.
- It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. I met a lady at the college the other day who works in the office with Marybeth and within 5 minutes of meeting her, she had bad-mouthed several people. My first thought was you’re so wicked and dangerous. You’re going to tell someone you just met specific names and problems you have with them. You’re not really telling me anything about them, but you sure are telling me a lot about you.
- Finally, the stakes can be your own soul.
- Accusing an innocent person, which is exactly what the Pharisees did to Jesus Christ, saying he was full of the devil. He was mad. He was a lunatic. And they felt perfectly justified in accusing an innocent man. And Jesus said, you better get off your high horse and quit justifying yourself in this sin. This has the potential to be the snare that keeps you from eternal life.
- Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
- There are consequences with God for feeling justified in your hatred and envy.
The solution (vss 23-26)
- You need to notice that what a person offers to God isn’t the thing that makes him right with God. The Lord says reconcile, then I’ll accept what you’ve brought.
- Angry with your adversary? The adversary here isn’t evil. He’s just become YOUR adversary because you hate him so much. Now, it’s time to confess and withdraw your accusation against him.
- Trusting Jesus Christ doesn’t just mean trusting that he is the Son of God. It means trusting his teaching, specifically here tonight his teaching about controlling your hostility toward people who haven’t done you any wrong.