21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And 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 or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; 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 together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not 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 tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, 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. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, 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.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus wants us to understand the true intention of the law. It is not just murder that is wrong, contemptuous name-calling-anger is also subject to judgment. It’s not just adultery that is sin, lustful inclinations of the heart are condemned. This is what Jesus meant by a righteousness surpassing that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (v.20). Followers of his are not to merely obey the external requirements of the law, we are to be radically changed down to the level of our secret thoughts and our heart motivations.
- Why is Jesus’ call to righteousness about more than just outward action?
- Where do you see your own heart falling short of Jesus’ call to superior righteousness?
- Does Jesus’ call to avoid sin at all costs seem severe to you? Why or why not?
- How is your view of sin different than that of Jesus?
- What might it look like for you to take the necessary precautions to flee from sin in your life?
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