Last week in God Is. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. . . , I said that Jesus was placing Himself in a position to interpret the Law, or Torah, correctly in the Sermon on the Mount. He is now going to elaborate on the mindset that precedes evil acts, and, perhaps, showing a little less emphasis on the physical act itself. The act itself is still wrong, but Jesus is now teaching people how to nip problems in the bud before the urge even shows up to commit these horrible acts. He is radically redefining the 6th Commandment here. We read in Matthew 5:21-22: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
This verse begins “You have heard that it was said to those of old. . .” Five times in this chapter Jesus says something close to this. “You have heard this, but I say this” is a theme that we can see. Again, Jesus is asserting His authority, and now even asserting His authority over previous teachers of The Law. He then quotes the 6th Commandment which is recorded in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 which is simply: “You shall not murder.” As we dive into this verse we see that Jesus is making a direct reference to the account of Cain and Abel that is recorded in Genesis 4. In this account we see that Cain became angry at His brother because God favored his act of worship and not Cain’s act of worship. The Lord told Cain to be careful because sin was crouching at his door, but Cain chose not to listen and harbored bitterness that manifest into an insatiable appetite for murder. John observed this as well, and he says it so clearly we will simply read it in 1st John 3:11-15: “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Let’s read that last part again: “Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
This is the radical new interpretation of the 6th Commandment, and one that all warrior Christians should fully understand. John fully understood what Jesus said on that hillside. He got it. It is the anger that dwells deep in the hearts of men that causes the judgment that God deploys. It is hatred for our fellow-man that makes murderers. There are different words for kill and murder in all the languages that contributed to this study. The Hebrew Text of the 10 Commandments and the Greek Text that produces the English words we read in this study all mean to murder. The difference is anger in the heart, and not loving your fellow-man.
This week I challenge you to check your heart and see what is inside that you would not be proud to show our God. He can see it anyway.
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Matthew 5:22 – “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”