READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l As Jesus finishes the Beatitudes in Matt 5:1-11, He declares in vs.17 that He is not removing the law but fulfilling it. He draws up the full meaning of the law for all who follow Him. He does this by using the phrases “You have heard that it was said…” and “But I tell you that…”. In extending the law, Jesus is not setting opposites to the law but is giving us practical ways to understand the spirit or essence of the law. These extensions also place a fence to help prevent us from breaking the law. The six extensions are as follows:
- Murder is extended to include anger (vs. 21-26).
- Adultery is extended to lust (vs. 27-30).
- Divorce is extended to divorce only on grounds of sexual immorality (vs. 31-32).
- False oaths are extended to not making oaths to begin with (vs. 33-37).
- Retaliation is extended to non-retaliation (vs. 38-42).
- Loving our neighbours is extended to loving our enemies (vs.43-48).
The following are three extensions elaborated on in this sermon:
1.Do not murder (but do not be angry) – Eph 4:26 tells us that in our anger we do not sin. Here anger does not refer to righteous anger but unrestrained outbursts and insults. Physical murder arises from uncontrolled anger. Vs.22 tells of grave consequences to anger. Our words can kill, as such thoughtless words can murder confidence and destroy lives.
Three practical handles for this extension are:
a)Resolve to work on the issue of anger. Do not excuse yourself that you cannot help it, for God can transform us.
b)Reflect before reacting. Think before speaking. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
c)Rest in God’s love. Love “is not easily angered” (1 Cor. 13:5). God’s love is the true secret to peace and calm. Surrender all anger to Him.
Has someone been a victim of your anger? Apologise and heal the relationship.
2.Do not commit adultery (but do not lust). Exodus 20:14 states: “You shall not commit adultery.” The extension Jesus gives is to lust as it turns the person into an object to be used for gratification. Jesus uses a hyperbole (Vs. 29 – 30) to teach us to be ruthless in dealing with lust. Every path to lust must be removed. Three practical handles for this extension are:
a)Avoid temptation. What we see with our eyes feeds impure imagination which leads to sinful action. Thus, we should ruthlessly put away anything (websites, magazines, etc) that cause temptation.
b)Setting boundaries. Do not allow admiration and attraction to turn into lust. Do not flirt, maintain physical distance, and do not put ourselves in compromising situations.
c)Pursue accountability. We are to be accountable to our spouse or spiritual friends in this private and sensitive matter.
3.Love your neighbours (and your enemies as well). This is a most difficult command. Loving only our neighbours is a limited form of love. But if we can love our enemy, we can love anyone. This is the essence of the law. How can we love our enemy?
a)Leave justice to the Lord (Rom.12:19). Leave whatever injustices to God to have His way and in His time. We are reminded to overcome evil with good, feeding our enemies when they are hungry or giving them drink when they are thirsty. God’s goodness will strike their consciences (heaping burning coals over the head of our enemy) (Rom. 12:20,21).
b)Don’t gloat over their failures (Prov.24:17). Remember that we are all under God’s mercy.
c)Pray for our enemies (Matt 5:44). We pray for them to turn to God and also that we do not become like them.
Three discipleship principles to help us apply these extensions, and the Sermon on the Mount:
- Humbly accept that you need God. We come to God to acknowledge that on our own, we cannot obey the Sermon on the Mount. The first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” recognises that we cannot do anything without God. We become rich in God when we acknowledge our spiritual poverty. It is then that the Holy Spirit can get His way in our lives.
- Allow God to change the heart. We cannot will ourselves to do His will. The Pharisees had many external observances but lacked a right posture of the heart. The starting point is a change in heart, which only God can do. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Eze. 36:26). Pray for a tender heart which is free from indifference and hardness, so that God can place a new heart within.
- Don’t stop taking the next step. Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (vs. 48). Perfection in our life refers to the complete and full purpose God has for us. Each step forward honours the Lord. Don’t give up. Keep at it.
Let us persevere and grow as intentional disciples of Jesus!
(Sermon notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- What did Jesus mean when he said, “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.”? (Matt 5:17)
- What are the two purposes for the extensions to the law?
- Looking at Matt 5:17 – 48, how did Jesus extend the law?
- Why did Jesus extend the commandment against murder to anger?
- How have we “murdered” someone with our angry words?
- What are the three handles that can help us manage anger? In your experience, would such handles help?
- When Jesus commanded us to “remove our eyes or cut away our hand” because of sin (Matt 5:29-30) , what is the point he was trying to make
- What are the three practical ways we can deal with the sin of lust? What are some healthy boundaries we should put in place to prevent getting into lust?
- Why did Jesus extend the commandment from loving the neighbour to loving our enemies?
- How then can we “love” our enemies?
- Share one or two key insights from the sermon which the Lord has given you.
- Pray for each other to always take the next step of obedience and depend on God to obey His Word.