As Romans 3:23 reminds us, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But, as Jesus continued to tell the world about God and his message to the people, He wanted to help those listening to understand the distinction between the action of sin, and the spirit of sin. Jesus took some pretty straight forward acts, Murder, adultery, lies, revenge, and helped the crowd to see the spirit of hatred, bitterness, deceit, judgement and pride that waited in the wings to make sure those acts happened.
When we look at the distinction between the heroes and the villains of the Bible, the heroes did some pretty bad stuff–Moses murdered an overseer, David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and killed her husband, Peter denied Christ, 3 times…But, as you look at their hearts, their spirits, each had a heart that was devoted to God and Him alone–they did horrible things; but repented and stayed devoted to God.
Conversely, Saul the King simply never submitted to God’s leadership–he did it his way, and destroyed his life and family. Pharaoh never submitted to God’s request and it destroyed Egypt, his army and even lost his own son. The religious leaders that sought the life of Jesus did terrible acts, but worse, they abandoned the very God they supposedly served. In short, God forgave men’s sin, but, unless they accepted that forgiveness and submitted to God’s leadership, there could be no change.
In our lives, we too struggle with sin. Despite the resources we have to remind us of our need to humbly follow God; we find ourselves saying and doing things that run counter to God’s will and plan for our lives. Despite that, God still wants for us to be like the Moses, David and the heroes of the Bible–submit our hearts to him. If we will he will forgive our sin and bless our lives. What God is not willing to do is to bless a person that has no desire to follow him. God looks at men’s hearts–If our hearts are willing to submit to him, God is willing to start each day–new with us! John said it best–“If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us of all unrighteousness!” I John 1:9
Don’t be fooled–we can never act our way to salvation, it is a gift that only requires our acceptance and submission.
God Bless You
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, 24 leave 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.
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.
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.
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Love Your Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.