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July 31st, 2017 -Pastor Keith Cromie

Jesus turned some heads when he told the disciples and others who were listening in…unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:20)

I wonder if His listeners thought to themselves, “How are we ever going to get into the kingdom? The scribes and the Pharisees were the experts, the professionals. They tell us what the Law means and how to obey it.” Whatever they thought, Jesus at least had their attention.

We need the same message today. The reason: performance-based religion leads to moral checklists left incomplete and spiritual report cards marked D for discouraged.

Jesus was trying to reclaim people by offering new life, new relationship with God through His own righteousness. It was Jesus who would make it possible for our sins to be forgiven. It was Jesus who would show us how to live out of that forgiveness in ever increasing measures of glory.

However, Jesus had to convince people then, just as he does today, that our own religious performance just can’t pass muster. So, in a series of six examples, Jesus shows the futility of measuring our lives solely on externals. Read the following section of Jesus’ sermon. You’ll see both the pattern and the focus of our study on July 30.

Matt. 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Matt. 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Matt. 5:31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Yes, Jesus moves into the home and talks marriage and divorce. So will we. These are tough topics for sure. Yet, we can see the truth Jesus is driving at related to the permanence of marriage, while at the same time see the grace and the truth that will help us keep our relationships in top shape.

Be praying and preparing your heart to hear grace and truth from our Lord.


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