One truth shared: Jesus exposes the monster of sin in us that he might kill it and transform us.
“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.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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. 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.”
Matthew 5:21-24; 27-30
Kill the Monsters
Everyone has a sinful nature. There is a deep-seated monster that lives inside us. It’s like incurable cancer in a human body. Our spiritual genetics are so flawed, we won’t survive. It’s why every human being in the world dies. Sin is a monster that kills us.
In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, he shines a bright spotlight on the monster. People thought that as long as they did not murder, then they were obeying the Fifth Commandment. As long as they didn’t commit adultery, they were keeping the Sixth Commandment. Jesus explained that sin isn’t just doing the outward act of murder. Like cancer cells, sin is already there inside us. It might begin with a feeling of anger or a lustful desire that decides to look. If our hearts were pure, we wouldn’t have those feelings or desires.
We like to think, “C’mon, God, don’t take things so seriously. I’m not perfect, but hey, I haven’t killed or committed adultery.” Today, Jesus makes this clear: if you are easily angered and impulsively blurt out ugly names and curses at others, you will pay with literal hellfire.
Wow. Sin is not a little oopsie because I’m having a bad day. It’s a monster that will kill me.
How serious are you about getting rid of sin in your life? Next week ushers in the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Jesus is readying himself for the serious task of facing hellfire and death on the cross. He did not come to earth to relax God’s holy standards. He came to obey them, even the least one we think we can fudge a bit. He kept them completely. If you’ve ever put together a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, maybe you’ve felt the frustration of a few missing pieces … So close! God demanded a righteousness no one could perfectly match. We have holes all over. Until Jesus came and completed it perfectly.
The missing piece of the puzzle is Jesus.
This week, identify your sinful impulses. Don’t let them stay hidden. Listen to Jesus’ words and shine a bright light on them. Repent of them. Remember your need for Jesus who killed the monster! Now fight the impulse to hurt people, especially people who hurt you first. Fight impure thoughts. Imitate Jesus and live a life of love.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for your commandments that help expose the monster of sin within us. Forgive us for the times we sin against you. Send your Holy Spirit to give us the strength to resist temptations and to live a life that is pleasing to you. We do all of this to give you praise and glory. Amen.