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Matthew 5:21-26

A More Excellent Way

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • June 3, 2018

In Matthew 5:21-26, we discover how to overcome anger and avoid its consequences by taking the “more excellent way”.

  • Sermon Notes

Matthew 5:21-26

Introduction

1.Does it seem like our world is getting angrier by the day? Conflict after conflict.

ILLUS – A couple’s secret to a successful marriage

2.How do we live in a world filled with anger and conflict and not be consumed by it in our own hearts?

3.In 1 Corinthians 12:31, the Apostle Paul declared that there is a “more excellent way”, it’s love.

4.In Matthew 5:21-26, we will discover how to overcome anger and avoid it consequences by taking the “more excellent way”.

Matthew 5:21-26

Context

1.In Matthew 5:1-20, Jesus declared the standard for being His disciple and entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

2.What is that standard? Perfection. He said in Matthew 5:20, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

3.That was a radical statement. In that day, the scribes and Pharisees were hailed as the definition of righteousness.

4.Then Jesus exploded their world view and said their standard was not good enough because they only stressed an external obedience to the Law. God has a different standard, for God looks at the heart!

5.God desires a deeper righteousness where obedience flows from a heart that is filled with faith because it has been transformed by His love and grace through Jesus.

6.In verses 21-26, Jesus applied the kingdom of heaven standard to the sixth commandment, once again taking it to a deeper level by examining the heart of man. What did His teaching reveal?

I.The Anger of Man Misses the Mark (21-22)

In verse 21, Jesus quoted Exodus 20:13. 

The “ancients” mentioned by Jesus were the original recipients of the Mosaic Law at Mount Sinai. 

This wasn’t the first prohibition against murder. God gave the first command to Noah after the flood.

Genesis 9:6, Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.

God made murder punishable by death because each person is made in His image; life has value.  

The scribes and Pharisees taught that if a person did not commit the physical act of murder, all was well, no command was broken.  

But Jesus elevated the standard when He said, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;” (22)  

What was Jesus saying?

A. Do not let anger master you

1.The word “anger” means a “settled anger”, “a malice that is nursed inwardly”.

a.There is a righteous anger. The Reformer, Martin Luther, called it the “anger of love”.

Martin Luther, “An anger of love [is] one that wishes no one any evil, one that is friendly to the person, but hostile to the sin.”

b.The Apostle Paul also spoke of a righteous anger but warned that it can easily turn fleshly and sinful.

Ephesians 4:26-27, Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.

c.In Matthew 5, Jesus was speaking of an unrighteous anger, an anger driven by pride, vanity, hatred, malice, and revenge.

2.Jesus was saying that while murder is forbidden, so is the anger that prompts the thought and leads to the act. When we’re angry with someone, it’s like committing murder in our hearts because we want to get rid of the one who gets in our way.

1 John 3:15, Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

APPL – Anger is a choice which can become a way of life.

Proverbs 19:19, A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.

APPL – Anger will master and destroy the person who permits it to reside in their heart. God warned Cain about it.

Genesis 4:6-7, Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

APPL – James said our anger always falls short of God’s righteousness because it is driven by a desire to glorify self and gratify self.

James 1:19-20, But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

James 4:1-2, What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.

APPL – A heart filled with anger will eventually speak words filled with anger. Jesus continued in verse 22, “and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

B.Words have the power of life and death

Proverbs 18:21, Death and life are in the power of the tongue…

1.“Raca” means “good-for-nothing”, “brainless”, “numskull”, or “idiot”. It was an insult which questioned a person’s intellect.

ILLUS – A pregnant woman wakes up from a coma…

2.“Fool” refers to one who is a “rebel”, “outcast”, or “apostate”.

Psalm 14:1, The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

3.Notice the progression and corresponding judgment:

a.Anger – guilty before the lower court.

b.“Raca” –guilty before the supreme court.

c.“Fool” – guilty enough to go to hell! One scholar noted that “the man who tells his brother that he is doomed to hell is in danger of hell himself.”

4.Why? Our words reveal what’s in our hearts. Only a heart filled with murderous thoughts would say such hateful words.

Luke 6:45, The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

APPL – Our culture applauds those who vent their anger. Hurtful memes laced with vile insults go viral on Social Media platforms and are justified as humor or “free speech”. Unfortunately, this has even infected the church. Long ago, James, the half-brother of Jesus, called out this hypocrisy…

James 3:8-10, But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

APPL – How can we overcome this deep-rooted corruption of the heart? The situation is hopeless, but with God, all things are possible!

II.Be a Peacemaker (23-26)

God desires a deeper righteousness, a righteousness that comes from a heart that is transformed by His grace and love. The result of that transformation is that our hearts look more like God’s heart, even towards those we are at odds with.

Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

ILLUS – A father attempts to reconcile with his son

A.Take the first step to make things right

1.Jesus gave two practical examples in verses 23-26 for us to follow when conflict arises so that we do not walk in anger, spewing hurtful insults, but walk in a manner worthy of Christ. Let’s put them in a contemporary context…

a.If you are worshipping at church and remember a church member has something against you, go and make it right, then come back and worship. (23-24)

ILLUS – Asking forgiveness before a service…

b.If you are behind on a payment with a creditor, make it right before you get sent to collections. (25-26)

John Stott, “We must never allow an estrangement to remain, still less to grow. We must not delay to put it right. We must not even allow the sun to set on our anger. But immediately, as soon as we are conscious of a broken relationship, we must take the initiative to mend it, to apologize for the grievance we have caused, to pay the debt we have left unpaid, to make amends… If we want to avoid committing murder in God’s sight, we must take every possible positive step to live in peace and love with all men.”

B. Put on love

1.What Jesus taught was personal and practical.

a. Personal because Jesus is personally committed to helping us experience His victory. If you struggle with anger and giving insults, Jesus wants to set you free

Galatians 5:1, It was for freedom that Christ set us free…

b.Practical because He has given us God’s Word so that we may have His wisdom to navigate the mine fields of this world.

Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

2.The Apostle Paul commanded us to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14). To put on Christ’s love, we must know how much God loves us!

John 17:22-23, The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Pastor Rich, “If we only knew how much God loves us, it would change our lives.”

3.To put on Christ’s love, we must take off the old self. It’s a daily choice…

Colossians 3:8-10,  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…

4.We must give greater place to studying and meditating on God’s Word so that our hearts are healed and our minds are renewed. Then we will be able to build up others because we have been built up in Christ.

Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms andhymnsandspiritual songs 

singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Philippians 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

ILLUS – How the Founder of Next Step Ministries marriage was saved after years of anger and vile insults

Conclusion

Psalm 51:10, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

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