Greater Righteousness and Lust - Matthew 5:27-30

Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 5:27-6:21

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Greater Righteousness and Lust - Matthew 5:27-30

In the second example of greater righteousness Jesus upheld the importance of faithfulness in marriage – no one should commit adultery. The disciples of Jesus, however, will also pay attention to lust in their hearts. Lusting for someone else's spouse is contrary to God's kingdom — it brings God's judgment and interpersonal harm — so lust must be cut from the life of a disciple.

Greater Righteousness and Marriage – Matthew 5:31-32

The third example of greater righteousness is closely related to the second one (Matt. 5:27-30). In Jesus' day the rabbis debated each other about the grounds for a valid divorce. Many rabbis said that one could be righteous in divorcing one's spouse for almost any reason that caused offense. Jesus taught that only in the case of sexual immorality was a divorce valid. This important teaching protects the dignity and situation of women who have often been mistreated in divorce. See WCF 24.5; WLC 139.

Greater Righteousness and Speech - Matthew 5:33-37

Words are powerful. It is through speaking that God created the world and our speech matters too. Often in the name of religion people make righteous-sounding commitments. Jesus taught that making promises or vows outwardly but then failing to consistently do them is less than the righteousness that God requires. See WLC 99; HC 102.

Greater Righteousness and Retaliation - Matthew 5:38-42

The fifth example of greater righteousness addresses the human tendency toward revenge. Jesus is calling his disciples to a higher way of being in relationship to others. Rather than paying people back with evil, Christians should retaliate with abundant kindness.

Greater Righteousness and Love - Matthew 5:43-48

The sixth and final example of greater righteousness is the highest and most comprehensive one: the call to love. This addresses the same topic of the first example (Matt. 5:21-26) but here stated positively. The call to love corresponds with what Jesus says is the greatest commandment (to love God) and stemming from that, to love others (Matt. 22:34-40). This greater righteousness is rooted in God's own nature. God loves even his own enemies and so his children must do the same.

You must be perfect – Matthew 5:48

All of God's commandments and teachings are rooted in his nature. The call to godliness means the call to think, feel, and act the same way God does. This section of the Sermon (Matt. 5:17-48) is summed up with the command to be "perfect" like God is. This word can be easily misunderstood. It does not mean Christians must be flawless or sinless (an impossible task as fallen creatures) but consistent, wholehearted, devoted, singular in direction. The opposite of being "perfect" is being double-minded (Jam. 1:2-8). God is consistent and singular and so too should his children be. See WLC 7.

Whole-Hearted Righteousness and Piety - Matthew 6:1-21

Jesus applies the theme of greater righteousness (Matt. 5:20) to three areas of life: ethics (Matt. 5:21-48), piety (Matt. 6:1-21), and relationship to the world (Matt. 6:19–7:12). Within the topic of piety Jesus teaches his disciples about whole-hearted righteousness with three practical examples: almsgiving, praying, and fasting. In each case Jesus motivates his audience through the promise of great reward with the heavenly Father (Matt. 6:1).

Reward - Matthew 6:1

reward. Jesus often speaks about God rewarding people for their faithfulness. This is an especially frequent theme in Matthew, where the language of reward/recompense (Matt. 5:12, 46; 6:1,2,5,16; 10:41-42; 16:27; 20:8) and treasure (Matt. 6:19-21; 12:35; 13:44, 52; 19:21) occur regularly. Disciples do not earn favor with God by merely doing righteous things, but God does honor and bless his people for their faithful and obedient response to Jesus. See also the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30)

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