We are all familiar with the Beatitudes of Matthew, Chapter Five. We have heard countless sermons quote these familiar verses. But I will tell you that I never heard a message that linked them to the Kingdom of God, even though Jesus begins by associating them with the Kingdom.
He says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of God". When my spirit first recognized this connection, all of the Beatitudes took on new meaning! And while it is not the purpose of this post to examine Matthew 5:1-12, I invite you to read the post I wrote, I Finally Understand the Beatitudes! Suffice it to say that this amazing Scripture illuminates the blessings of belonging to the Kingdom of God and the spiritual implications of Jesus's rule in our lives. These twelve verses highlight what our spiritual attitudes, goals, and character traits should be as Christians.
And interestingly, each of the twelve verses simulate the progression of what it looks like when we take this journey with Jesus towards our complete and whole sanctification. First, we are poor in spirit, without a relationship with our Creator; then we mourn for our fallen state; we become meek and teachable; then hunger and thirst after righteousness; becoming merciful and pure in heart; seeking the peace of Heaven; which goes against the world's nature and we are persecuted for our righteousness; ending with us receiving great rewards in heaven for our allegiance to our Lord. That's what it's like to be transformed from a lost soul into a Kingdom citizen!
But it's what Jesus has to say about fulfilling the Law that I want to examine today. How many times have we read His teachings on Murder, Lust, Divorce, Oaths, Revenge, and Love in the Book of Matthew? We've all seen the simple moral lessons on each of these important topics, and Jesus makes it clear that they are important commandments to follow. He even warns that entering the Kingdom of Heaven depends on us understanding them. But I want to take you a little deeper, if I may.
Remember, Jesus wants us to understand that He has not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but rather to fulfill them. And have you noticed that He begins each of the five topics He covers with this statement: "You have heard it said [to those of old]"... quoting from the Old Testament and the Law. But He follows it up with, "But I say to you"... bringing a new perspective to the Law, now that the Kingdom of God has arrived with Him.
I want you to see and understand two things: 1) He is showing us what a renewed mind, one that perceives things from a Kingdom perspective looks like; and 2) He is showing what the root cause is of these spiritual sins. Let me show you how that works. Let's start with the topic of Murder. Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder'... But I say, whoever is angry with his brother ... whoever insults his brother ... whoever calls his brother a fool will all be held to judgement. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison."
He is showing us how to renew our minds and not give in to sinful actions. He gives us a heavenly solution to a sinful problem. There is no murder or anger in Heaven. But even more importantly, He is showing us that the root cause of murder is the spirit of anger! If you give in to the spirit of anger, and do not change your perspective to a kingdom one, that anger can lead to bitterness, then to resentment, on to hatred, and eventually can wind up at murder!
Now let's look at Adultery. Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Here, we see that the root cause of adultery is lust. If we give in to a lustful spirit, it can lead to fantasizing, perhaps pornography, and even eventually, adultery. But Jesus gives us a solution. Change the way we've looked at, and bind it as it is bound in Heaven. Put a stop to anything in your life that enables or encourages you to go down that road.
Divorce is a difficult one. Jesus doesn't have much to say about it: “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Jesus quotes the Law and then re-defines it according to the Father's spiritual rules. It's as if He's saying, "You've heard me say that lust is the spiritual root of adultery, and lust is what leads to sexual immorality. So, that is the only grounds on which you can serve a bill of divorce to your wife. No longer can you just decide you want to end the marriage. Any grounds other than the one I have established is not recognized, and is a sin. Divorce does not exist in Heaven. It should not exist here on earth.
Oaths are another area that He is adamant about. "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all....". Here, Jesus is reformatting the Law again. Taking an oath was okay under the Law, as long as it was not false. But in a renewed Kingdom mindset, one doesn't want to take an oath at all. We recognize who we are, and our word as sons and daughters of the King carry all the weight we need. Oaths can lead to destruction, such as the oaths taken by Freemasons against their bodies and the health of their family members. I have seen those oaths destroy families and lives. The consequences of seemingly meaningless pledges and vows have unleashed havoc on innocent lives for generations. Follow Jesus's advice: Let your "yes" mean "yes", and your "no" mean "no".
Revenge or retaliation is another topic Jesus addresses: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." There is no revenge in Heaven, except for that exacted by YHWH. Remember: Vengeance is His alone! So a Kingdom mindset turns the other cheek to keep the Enemy from inciting evil; always giving more than what was taken. A Kingdom mindset does not let a root sin of anger develop into bitterness, followed by hatred, which could end up with murder,
Finally, Jesus ends up with the most surprising advice: "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." That is so counter-intuitive to the human mind. But a spiritually renewed mind can recognize that that is exactly what Jesus did! True love is a sacrificial love, and it is perfect love.
So I hope you were able to see the elements of Inner Healing, and see the root causes of spiritual issues in Jesus's teaching. And I hope you were able to peel another layer of revelation off Scripture today. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to bring it to the fullness of its purpose: to help us transform this earth into Heaven. Our Lord has so much to reveal to us about the mind of the Father, and is trying to teach us to renew our minds to see from the Father's Heavenly perspective. These verses offer so much more than "Don't Murder, don't cheat on your spouse, don't get divorced, don't seek revenge, and just love everyone". Jesus is trying to teach us how to live a Kingdom lifestyle and not yield spiritual territory to our Enemy. May we grow each day toward that perfect life and discern His righteousness in all its ways!
Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.