February 18-20, 2017
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Matthew 5:20-37
“SQUIRMIN’ ON THE MOUNT”
1. Your hatred is murder.
2. Your marriage harming is adultery.
3. Your mouth is evil.
Matthew 5:20-37 (NIV 1984) “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. 27“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. 31“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. 33“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Have you ever been hit hard, right in the face? I have, by that wall right over there. Sometimes when I come home at night after a meeting and the north wind is blowing I like to take a “warm cut” through the church. Because I’m familiar with the layout of our church and don’t want to waste electricity turning on the lights I walk through in the dark trusting my instincts. One time though I misjudged. I don’t know if I subconsciously shortened my long legged stride or what but all of the sudden, Wham! Smack into the wall. My eyes were tearing. I saw lights. I learned something that night. I learned that I’m not as good as I think I am at navigating like a bat. I learned I need the light. Well, brothers and sisters as hard as that wall is and is much as it hurt to run into it, the Law of God is harder and it hurts more when you run into it. Today we take up a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that I like to call Squirmin’ on the Mount. For if you listen with honest ears and read with honest eyes and think about yourself and not others, you will be squirmin’!
Jesus is talking to people who had been taught that an outward keeping of God’s laws was good enough and that even then there were loopholes, justifications, for breaking God’s laws so that you weren’t sinning. Kind of like how we like to get righteously offended at murder and same sex marriage but maybe not quite so righteously offended at sins common to us. In the Squirmin’ on the Mount Jesus makes clear that the outward righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law was not good enough. In fact it was sin.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” As I look out I see murderers. Remember the last time you got mad at someone and wished them harmed or out of your life? Murder. Or the time you got mad because someone else blew it, conveniently forgetting all your mistakes? “Yes, but that’s not sinful,” you say. Anger might not be, but do you mean to tell me those angry thoughts came out of love? Only one other choice. Hatred. You are a murderer. Are you squirmin yet? Children, you murderers, you call names and make fun of a classmate because of their teeth or their hair or their clothes or how they act? You think it’s funny. God calls that hatred. You are a murderer. Are you squirmin yet? You think it’s OK to yell at your parents or get mad at your teachers and call them names when they discipline you? Hatred. Murder. Are you squirmin’ yet? Your hatred is murder.
And your marriage harming is adultery. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Technically the word adultery refers to a married person sharing their sexuality with someone other than their spouse. Jesus points out that the law of God is much harsher than that. Any harming of God’s gift of the blessed joining of one man and one woman for life is adultery. Husbands who speak harshly to your wives you are adulterers. Wives who nag husbands are adulterers. Are you squirmin’ yet? Guys whose eyes linger at the models pictures in the checkout line, aduleterers. Porn on the computer, on the phone. Adultery. Are you squirmin’ yet? Friends with benefits. Sexting, suggestive text messages. Are you squirmin’ yet? I’ve never watched the Bachelor or Bachelorette so forgive me if I’m wrong but isn’t the goal there to have attractive men and women showing of their stuff with multiple makeout sessions and portray that as love. How does that uphold marriage? Adultery. Are you squirmin’ yet? I remember in the congregation I served in San Antonio a sweet little old southern belle asking in a Bible Class, “Pastor, just what is lust anyway?” I felt my face flush as I started to explain and think of appropriate examples and then stopped and finally just blurted out, “Well you know what it is!” Yes, we know what it is. Adultery. Are you squirmin’ yet?
If the realization that you are a murdering adulterer doesn’t do it maybe the fact that you have an evil tongue will. “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Before this Jesus had talked about phrases that people use to try to get others to believe them. Let’s think about our phrases. “Oh my…” then you use God’s name. No big deal. It’s so common. It’s also blasphemy and comes from the evil one. Parents should I ask the kids to reveal how many of you say that? Are you squirmin’ yet? Any other choice words? What about the way we tell stories that make ourselves look good but others not so much or pass on the gossip not to get anyone in trouble but to do good. That’s evil. Are you squirmin’ yet? We like to think of child molesters as perverts but in the book of proverbs you know who God labels a pervert? A person who uses words to cause division and separate friends. (Proverbs 16:28) Are you squirmin’ yet?
Now what’s the point? Why did Jesus get so harsh? Why does He tear away from us any pretense that we are good people and expose our sinfulness with such sharp words? Why does He make us squirm? He does it out of love. Like that wall with me the true law of God shows us we are not as good as we think we are. And we need the light of the world, Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t just expose us and leave us hanging out to dry like we do to others. He left Himself hanging and squirming on the Mount of Calvary when He paid in full for all the sins His words just exposed. All of our murder, all of our adultery, all of our evil and everything else Jesus took on Himself and was punished for in full. And Jesus gives us His own righteousness that far surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law because Jesus is perfect.
Sometimes it takes a good hard smack in the face for us to learn. I walk much more carefully in here now. Still too cheap to turn the lights on. My prayer for all of us here today is that we learn to walk a little more carefully out of love for Jesus. Yes, our sins our paid for but that’s no reason to keep doing them. It’s reason to stop and fight and show Jesus we appreciate what He has done for us by being more careful with our words, more careful with what we let our eyes see and more careful with what we let into our hearts. Ours is not to walk in the ways of the world but in the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ. Living by that higher standard is a privilege, not a right. Amen.