THROUGH THE BIBLE IN THREE YEARS

This program of daily Scripture studies is designed to help you in daily honoring God with adoration.

Each day, Monday through Friday, a Scripture with commentary is posted.

We have a great friend in Gary Godard. He has set up an archive page. To view ALL the prior Scripture studies by book and chapter, just clik


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TODAY'S SCRIPTURE STUDY

MATTHEW

CHAPTER 5

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Great multitudes of people followed Jesus wherever He went. According to Luke 6:12-16, Jesus had chosen the disciples, and this sermon was intended as instruction to them. Note that the Scripture points out Jesus "went up into a mountain," and then "His disciples came unto Him."

Some of the multitudes obviously heard the teaching Matthew 7:28,but this discourse is intented as instruction for the disciples of the Messianic kingdom which Christ had already been announcing and preaching about. The Sermon on the Mount contains principles of truths for, and characteristics of those who are "disciples" (willing students) of Christ.

For younger preachers, I would point out that this sermon in its entirety can be preached in 20 minutes!
It is not the length of time that is important in a sermon; it is the content that is important! Far too many preachers are intent to deliver to the mind of man more than the behind of man can endure!

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

"Blessed" means blissfully happy. Jesus begins the sermon with the purpose of entering "the kingdom of heaven." That purpose is to have spiritual happiness. Note that each "Blessed" is followed by two things: First, there is a statement concerning a characteristic of those surrendering to Christ as Lord; Second, there is a reward stated for those who have done so.

"Poor in spirit" is the requirement for salvation. It is to recognize that one is totally depraved and eternally lost without Christ, then to surrender to Him as Lord. This characteristic is in opposition to those who are proud and will not come to Christ as Lord. The reward of surrender to Him is knowing that our names are written in "the book" of eternal salvation - "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." It is the reward of having sure knowledge of life with Christ forever. (See 1John 5:13).

"They that mourn" reflects a sense of anquish because of sinfulness. True sorrow for sin is more than sorrow for commission of illegal and immoral acts. It is sorrow for having participated in that which murdered our Lord. In that we are guilty of sin, we are also guilty of participating in His crucifiction. Yet, the reward is the comfort from the Lord by being "accepted in the beloved."

"The meek" are those who are self-disciplined. By the power of God's Spirit entering them, they have received power to control self and keep themselves from the ruinous sins of the world. The reward of practicing such self-discipline is to "inherit the earth." God gives sure knowledge that those who live for Christ in this world will "rule and reign" with Christ for a thousand years, Revelation 20:4-6.

"They which do hunger and thirst after righteousness," I believe, is reflective of those who realize they have no righteousness of themselves (Isaiah 64:6), but have a Spirit-led desire to be like Christ in perfect righteousness. We realize that while living in this present world we cannot BE perfect, but our goal is to "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). The reward of seeking this goal is to know that one day we will be FILLED with the righteousness of Christ Himself (2Corinthians 5:21).

"The merciful" are those who exhibit not only concern, but also care for those who are needy. It was God's mercy that allowed us to be saved (Ephesians 2:4-9). And that characteristic of God is expected to be in those who are His (Luke 6:36). The reward of exhibiting that characteristic is to find MORE mercy in the sight of God.

"Pure in heart" reflects focus upon loyalty to Christ. Those who put Christ in the CENTER of their lives and plan all the rest around Him have a pure sense of His beauty. They "see" God! They learn Who He is, and find His will in their lives.

"Peacemakers" are those who follow loyalty with Christ in their relationships with others. James 3:17 says, "...the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable..." Those who are filled with peace exhibit it. And, thus, they are known as "the children of God."

"Persecuted for righteousness" is an event or multiple events which will happen to all who follow Christ determinedly. For "the disciple is not above his Lord," and "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). However, the disciples happiness cannot be destroyed, even by persectuion! (See Psalm 119:165) Notice that this "B-Attitude" is DOUBLED. Verse 11 indicates the same principle. First (vs 10), it is mentioned "for righteousness sake;" then, (vs 11) it is for "MY sake." Enemies of righteousness are enemies of Christ! When one jokes about, reviles, mocks, or makes crude jokes of Christians, one is persecuting righteousenss and Christ Himself!

How does this make the disciple "blessed," or blissfully happy? "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully." (1 Peter 2:19) If a person suffers for Christ, or for righteousness, he is suffering WRONGLY. And this produces the reward of thankfulness, knowing that he has suffered for Christ and for doing that which is right. It is not a normal thing for a person to do such, but it is because of the Spirit of God Who indwells us and compels us to live for our Master. Thus, he who suffers "for righteousness" realizes that the Spirit of God is working within him! That is thankworthy! The disciple can "rejoice and be exceedingly glad" because he knows that God's Spirit is causing him to "will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Jesus compares Christians to two different things, both adding meaning and clarity to WHO we are.

SALT. Salt was considered a preservative. If salt lost its ability to preserve, then it was useless and should just be thrown away. Christian, you are a preservative in this world. If it weren't for you, people would commit worse acts more often than they do. Your influence upon the world is necessary to restrain evil.

Now, here's what I hear Jesus saying: "If you are not exercising your influence, you are UNnecessary, and God will allow you to be run over ("trodden under foot")! WOW! That puts a whole new perspective upon remaining active in ministry for our Lord!

LIGHT. Christian, not only do you restrain evil, but you illuminate character and integrity. You should be as a "candle" on a lampstand, and shine the truths of God publicly. Pierce the darkness of evil by being who God called you to be. When people see you living for Christ, they will recognize the truth of salvation. They will SEE that a person can truly be "born again." And they will "glorify your Father" because of the mercy and grace they see applied to you.

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus did not come to destroy, or put away the LAW. He came to "fulfill" the perfect righteousness of the law. He came to do what no man could do.

He that is not judged by Christ, and acquitted by His grace, shall be judged by the Law. Jesus Himself IS the Law! He is the measure, the rule, the standard by which all men shall be judged.

He that is judged by Christ, will be obedient to the "Law." Just because Christ fulfilled all the law for us does not mean we should abrogate the law to ourselves. The laws of God are the goal of perfection. And Jesus Himself said, "Be ye therefore PERFECT, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) This should be the Christian's goal. Though we may fall short, we should be constantly striving toward that end.

Jesus did fulfill every "jot" (smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet) and every "tittle" (smallest projection on a Hebrew letter, like an apostrophe) of the law. He was perfect and without sin.

To teach less than the goal of maturing in growth through Christ is to receive a lesser reward. It is important that churches and leaders in churches teach GROWING in Christ. One is not "born again" to be stagnant again! One is born again to be vibrant, and vibrancy is the result of constantly trying.

20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Now, some may think this harsh. You see, the Pharisees were among the most outwardly righteous people in the world. However, that was just their problem. They had an OUTWARD appearance of righteousness, but inwardly they were focused on SHOW rather than surrender to God. In one instance Jesus said they were like the tombs...whitewashed on the outside, and appearing good, but INSIDE they were full of "dead men's bones!" (See Matthew 23:27)

The true believer in Christ has an inward desire to be like Christ because he is indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God. His sin may show on the outside at times, but inside he is constantly striving to be like Christ. He already has the imputed righteouseness of Christ (Romans 3:21-22), and this enables the Christian to strive for perfection (Romans 8:1-5).

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Here, Jesus begins a series of teaching points. Each begins with "Ye have heard" and ends with "But I say unto you...." Through these, Jesus shows how His fulfillment of the law, and our striving to fulfill the law must be even stronger than the most outward show of religion.

MURDER
"Ye have heard...."
This first point considers the subject of murder. Jesus recalls that the law says, "Thou shalt not kill." The reference to being "in danger of the judgment" probably refers to the FIRST law about murder (Genesis 9:6)

"But I say unto you..."
He Who INSTITUTED the "law" through Moses, is certainly capable of INTERPRETING the law! Obviously, it is wrong to murder. Jesus is saying here that it is also wrong to have malicious thoughts toward your brother. ((To say "Raca" was to call a person "emptyheaded." To say that a man was a "fool" probably was a reflection of his character, because it meant that he didn't believe in God (Psalm 14:1))

To have malicious thoughts toward our "brother," or to malign his character actually cuts us off from God! Harboring those evil intentions destroys whatever "gift" we might bring to God! The root of murder is in the angry heart! We must first "be reconciled" with our brother, THEN God will be willing to receive our gifts.

Unlike some, I do not advocate that the "prison" here refers to hell. We must remember that Jesus is speaking to believers. Therefore the "prison," I believe, refers to being LEFT ALONE! Holding evil intentions piles up a debt that is impossible to pay (vs 26). And one will be held in that "prison" until he is relieved by getting right with his brother, or God brings death. God does not bless, nor does He apply the riches of His grace to those who are harboring evil in their hearts. And that action by God leaves a believer to be imprisoned in self-inclusion and ineffective in ministry.

Gossip and feudalism not only destroy personal ministry but also taint the ministry of the church. These sins can be forgiven when we reconcile with our brother and come to the Lord begging forgiveness.

Be right with your brother. At all costs, strive to be "reconciled" so that God will bless your life and ministry.

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

ADULTERY
"Ye have heard..."
Adultery is forbidden by the 7th commandment (Exodus 20:14) Adultery was punishable by DEATH (Leviticus 20:10) The severity of the punishment reflects the seriousness of the crime! God's plan for the production of society is one man with one woman for one lifetime.

It doesn't matter how many times you see adultery protrayed as "ok" on the television screen, in the movies, or read about it in the romance novels -- it is WRONG! The HUB of all societal relationships and activities is the untainted married couple. Sexual activity outside the bonds of holy matrimony is a sin which destroys families, leaves children unattended, and forwards costs to the mainstream of society. If you have heard that from the laws of man today, it is because it was first contained in the law of God!

"But I say unto you...."
The root of the sin of adultery lies in the lustful heart! If the person is thinking about it, contemplating it, he will act upon it when the opportunity is presented. Remember David. He first SAW Bathsheba. Then he contemplated. Then he formed the opportunity, and committed the act.

Note the severity with which Jesus approaches dealing with the sin of adultery. If it is your right eye which leads you to the first step - PLUCK IT OUT! If it is your right hand, CUT IT OFF! If we all applied that to ourselves, we would all be going around blind and helpless! Isn't that right? Don't lie to yourself and God. But Jesus is stating that we should certainly deal with ourselves with very severe steps in order to be kept from this sin. Deal with the root and you will be able to stay away from the actual commission of the sin.

31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

DIVORCE
"Ye have heard...."
Where did the law of divorce come from? It came from God Himself through Moses. Why did God give a law of divorce? Jesus answered that Himself. He said, "For the hardness of your heart!!" (See Matthew 10:5-9)

First, it was because men were throwing their wives out of the house because of stupid things. For instance, if she didn't cook the biscuits right, she could be thrown out. But they weren't DIVORCING her, they were just casting her out to be at the mercy of society. No one else could marry her, and hardly anyone would care for her - because she was actually still married. So God commanded a "law of divorcement." (See Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

"But I say unto you...."
The wife was considered equal in office and position to the husband. Though sometimes treated as chattel mortgage by the sinfulness of men, she was to be called "blessed" by her husband and her sons (See Proverbs 31:28) She could command her family(See Exodus 20:12), and sometimes took the leadership of the family. Her voice was to be heard in the conduction of all activities of the home (See Genesis 21:12)

So you might say, that God's given instructions for divorce was a strike for "women's rights." (That certainly does not mean that God condones the present-day "women's liberation" movement!)

With the sole exception of sex outside the marriage, divorce was unthinkable! And Jesus wanted it understood that, if a man divorced a woman for any reason other than "fornication," then he brought the same judgment upon himself as upon her -- adultery -- when he remarried.

Now, let me hurriedly belabor this point for a moment. Anyone who has forced divorce for reasons other than adultery can be forgiven. ALL sins can be forgiven. There are two things that adults in this situation should do. First, they should admit to their previous marital partner that their reasons for divorce were wrong. Second, they should go to God and ask forgiveness. One who follows these steps can live without the stigma of divorce because the root has been forgiven ( See 1John 1:9).

33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

SWEARING
"Ye have heard..."
Perhaps Leviticus 19:12 is the basis for this statement. God does not take lightly the use of His Name! He is jealous for the Holiness of His Name, and so should we be. If a person swears by the name of God, he will be held accountable to fulfill his oath. If he is able to sidestep the oath with men, God will still hold him accountable!

The word "forswear" means to intentionally swear FALSELY! What we call PURJURY!

But I say unto you..."
Again, let me emphasize that Jesus is the One who gave the law to Moses, and certainly He is the best INTERPRETER of that law! His statement here is to not swear by ANYTHING falsely!

Now, recently, some have made a big "to do" about whether we should "Swear" upon the Bible in court. Personally, it doesn't make any difference. In a court of man's law, one might be "sworn in" with his hand upon the Bible, saying "..so help me God." Remember, here Jesus is speaking of swearing falsely, or intentionally committing purjury. He is not talking about taking an oath of truth in a court of law.

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

RETALIATION
"It hath been said,....."
Many people fall into the trap of quoting PART of Scripture out of the context in which it was given. Here is the Scripture including "an eye for an eye" in context:
18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye , tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deut 19:18-21)

OR:

22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24 Eye for eye , tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Ex 21:22-25)

This is the TRUTH of what God said. But some others had said, because God's law allows "eye for eye," then revenge could be taken.

"But I say unto you...."

As you can see, the Scripture in both cases above say that the JUDGES are to determine the punishment. Acting in retaliation for revenge is nullified by first submitting each case to the JUDGES! The law did not allow personal vengeance ( See Leviticus 19:18)

Jesus goes further to say that we should not "resist evil." Yes, we should REPROVE evil. But Christians (disciples of Christ) are to be "...first pure, then peaceable , gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." (James 3:17)

Mr. Wycliff says in his commentary on this Scripture: "A child of God should willingly suffer loss by assault (v. 39), lawsuits (v. 40), compulsory regulations (v. 41), begging (v. 42 a), and loans (v. 42 b)." (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

Christians, by surrendering to the "yoke" of Christ, are to be as He: charitable, willing to give, willing to lend, and willing to suffer for righteousness.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

RELATIONSHIPS
"It hath been said....." To "love thy neighbour as thyself" came directly from the law ( See Leviticus 19:18). However to "hate thine enemy" was not part of Scripture.
"But I say unto you..."
Jesus' correction of the cynical interpretation by some was to "love your enemies!" Exhibiting "sonship" to the Father is to do as Christ did. He "blessed" those who cursed Him, did "good" to them that hated Him, prayed for those who despitefully used Him, and even loved those (we) who crucified Him!!

Expressing love for those who love us is easy. Expressing love for those who are hurting us takes deep down resolve that can only come from the power of God's Holy Spirit indwelling us.

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

WOW! What a command!

Jesus here presents a mini-conclusion based upon the teaching points He has made already, "Ye have heard....but I say unto you..." Jesus is saying,"Commit yourselves to DOING these things, and you wil exhibit the LOVE of the Father."

As I have stated before, it is impossible for a saved sinner to be perfect on this earth. We are STILL sinners.

However, it is NOT impossible to exhibit perfectly the love of God!
And this is our constant GOAL as Christians. We exemplify HIM in all that we DO!

As we come to Chapter 7, we will see our Lord begin to discuss the ATTITUDES of disciples.

PLEASE CONTINUE WITH US IN BIBLE STUDY TOMORROW.