“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.’ 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.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
This statement by Jesus is extremely profound. He addresses the real issue concerning the Law. The Pharisees believed they were doing a pretty good job of keeping the Law. After all, they could say that they never murdered anyone. According to Jesus, anyone who harbors anger or hatred in their heart toward another person is subject to judgment. If you harbor hatred in your heart toward another person, you are just as guilty as a murderer. Jesus is pointing out that only keeping the letter of the Law misses the whole point. God is more concerned with the heart of the Law. Once again, we must remember the purpose of the Law: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the Law; rather, through the Law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 5:20). The Law was given to show us we couldn’t keep it. This is why both you and I need a Savior who has perfectly kept the Law and can credit to us His own righteousness.
It is spiritual pride that leads us to believe that we somehow measure up. The question is what is the standard we are comparing ourselves to? When we compare ourselves to others, we might come out okay on the righteousness scale. But what happens when the standard becomes God’s perfect holiness? How do we compare then? According to Isaiah, “All of our righteousness are as filthy rags in God’s sight.” God knew this to be true. Therefore, He provided a way for us to be reconciled to Himself. God provided a substitute to take the penalty for our sin. Jesus paid the price so we would not have to. All we must do is trust in the person and work of Christ for His righteousness to be imputed to us. This is the biblical doctrine of “justification.”
Like the religious people of Jesus day, we are tempted to see the Law as a way to earn right standing with God. If we succumb to this temptation, we will be constantly comparing ourselves to others in the hope that we will end up on the positive side of the scale. If this is our heart, we will one day sadly hear the words of Jesus saying, “Depart from Me…for I never knew you.” The Law points us to our need for a Savior! This is what it was designed to do. Let us not get sucked into a false sense of security that comes from self-righteousness. Instead, let us be honest with ourselves and cling to the righteousness of Jesus that comes by faith. The Law doesn’t save us! Jesus does! This is our only hope.
Questions to Ponder:
Do you find yourself frequently comparing yourself to others? If you were a religious person in the first century, how would you have reacted to Jesus’ words? Have you ever harbored hatred in your heart toward another person? What is the true condition of your heart before God?
- Worship the Lord as your Savior and Messiah
- Thank Him for clothing you with a garment of salvation and robe of righteousness.
- Confess any sin. Confess any pride, judgement towards others, hatred in your heart toward specific people or organization. Ask Holy Spirit to reveal to you any sin.
- Ask the Lord to keep you in posture of humility, brokenness and reality that you are prone to wonder away from Him in thought and in heart. Ask Him to remind you throughout the day how your righteousness comes from Christ alone.
Almighty God, Heavenly Father, I worship. I declare You and You alone are the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Lord, equip me to remember the reality of my position in Christ Jesus. Thank You for clothing me with a garment of salvation and robe of righteousness. Thank You for giving me life in You and giving me a new name.
Spirit of Truth lead me into the Father’s heart and will. Infill me now so I can be poured out like a drink offering throughout the day. Help me Lord to respond to Your convictions. Enable me by Your Spirit to seek and submit to You. Help me to listen and obey. Convict me when I start to stray, when I move in my own strength or think I’m earning Your affection or “points” by what I do. Teach me how to cast down anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
Revealer of Truth help me to respond to You when You point out to me that my heart and mind are starting to wander in places it shouldn’t. Please also keep me in this place of measuring my own life up to You, rather than those around me. Make me clean from the inside out. Lead me into Your truth throughout the day and let me see You ever before me. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.