Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

(Kind of a gross picture, isn't it?)

Murder.  Adultery.  Divorce. (Matthew 5:21-32)

It was another difficult morning at Bible study yesterday because the topics were so personal.  But Jesus doesn't tend to pull punches - He lays it on the line and forces us to respond.  So here was the basic teaching:

  • God wants to get to the heart of the matter.
  • God considers sinful anger against another human as murder. All men are image bearers of God and only God is the judge of men, therefore we are to reconcile relationships as far as it is up to us so that our worship is not hindered and so that we aren't found guilty of murder.
  • God also considers lust to be adultery.  Therefore, radical amputation is sometimes necessary to remove the temptation, but it pales in comparison to the punishment that comes from not dealing with sin.
  • And finally, God views divorce and remarriage as adultery with the exception for unfaithfulness in a marriage. We also concluded that remarriage is allowed to a believing spouse whose unbelieving partner refuses to stay in the marriage.  This was particularly hard teaching because bad marriages and divorces abound in the church...abound.  I mean it, they abound.
The holiness of God should become more apparent as you study the word of God.  It should make Him much bigger and reduce you to your proper size.  The hindrance to this happening is our pride. We don't want to view ourselves in light of scripture, but rather we tend to justify ourselves by saying our sin isn't really that bad.  

If lust in your heart is considered adultery, then sin is pretty damning.

If anger towards someone is considered murder, is really underrated.

As for divorce, I think that sexual impurity also abounds today, which makes most divorces "biblical" per se, but that hardly justifies doing something God hates - both the immorality and divorce are abhorrent to Him.

So yes, sin really stinks and after a study like yesterday, once again I find myself poor in spirit and mourning over my sinfulness.  God wants to get to our hearts, my friends.  And when I say hearts, I am not talking about our feelings but to the core of our minds - where our beliefs are born and where we form understanding that drives our actions.  He wants us to see sin as He sees it.

Why is Jesus making this so hard on His audience?  Why is He shining a light on their sin, rather than building them up and encouraging them?  Again, this is our pride asking this.  We must understand that in shedding light on the enormity of our need, Jesus is being more gracious and loving than we deserve.  For without us recognizing our sin, we will never repent of it, we will never see our need for a Savior, we will never beg for forgiveness and we'll never fully receive His mercy and grace, which He freely and abundantly bestows on us.

We need to marinate in this teaching for a few days, then own it, repent and determine to put off sin and put on righteousness.  God is forgiving and He's also extremely powerful and helpful when it comes to victory over sin.  He knows what is best for us - He knows what pure hearts produces in the lives of His children. Therefore, let's not embrace our sin only because then we will have to endure the consequences, but let's not embrace our sin because we see God more clearly and want to please Him more than indulge ourselves.

If you are not convinced that letting Christ rule in your life is a better way to live, then you will never release your kung fu grip on sin.

Not I, but Christ.

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