Friday, September 15, 2017

60 - Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 

But I say to you, that whoever looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members be lost, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members be lost, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.'

But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for a matter of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.
 Mat. 5:27-32 


Adultery


You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'.  For centuries already the law has been repeated and you know it well.  But your interpretation of this law does not affect the heart.

Many and severe are the prohibitions of the Jews, concerning looking upon a woman, which they aggravate as a very great sin: they say: 
- it is not lawful to look upon a beautiful woman, though unmarried;  
- nor upon a woman's coloured garments: 
- they forbid looking on a woman's little finger, 
- and say that he that tells (counts) money to a woman, out of his hand into her's, that he may look upon her (this sounds like prostitution) ... shall not escape the damnation of hell: 
- they affirm that he that looks upon a woman's heel, his children shall not be virtuous; 
- and that a man may not go after (walk behind) a woman in the way, no, not after (behind) his wife, he must take her to the side of him, (the idea seems to be that he might see her heel, or worse yet, he might notice her waistline; so he must walk beside her so that he cannot see her) 
- they forbid a man looking on the beauty of his own wife.  

Now these things were said by them ... because they would be thought to be very chaste; when they were, as Christ calls them, an "adulterous generation" in a literal sense: they usually did what our Lord observes, "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel". Gill.  This means that they were extremely picky about the minutest details and at the same time miss the whole point.

So the men in such a society insist that the women wear overbearingly hot clothing all summer long just so that everyone will think of those same men, that make those rules, are above ever thinking of committing adultery.

Christ continues, So I am saying to you whoever looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

On the other side of the globe, in North America, many women walk the city streets wearing almost nothing.  Don't they realize that a woman in a pretty dress is much more beautiful than an under dressed woman is?  But, enough of that.

Men walking the same streets will, of course, see the women, but that does not mean that they are even considering committing adultery.   The sin is not in seeing, it is in lusting; it is a matter of the heart.  Some Bible teachers explain it like this: if you would do it if you thought you could get away with it than you are already guilty of doing it.

Speaking in hyperboles, to emphasize the truth, Christ said, if you cannot look at a woman without having impure thoughts about her, gouge out your offending eye.


We, Christians, are so prone to think glibly of Jehovah's attitude towards sin.  If you do not always treat a woman in a gentlemanly manner cut off your offending hand.  If you do not do that, you might do something which will incur Jehovah's damnation.

Divorce


Christ continues, Not only that but it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.  Under Jewish law, a man can divorce a woman for any reason or no reason. The Talmud specifically says that a man can divorce a woman because she spoiled his dinner or simply because he finds another woman more attractive, and the woman's consent to the divorce is not required. Judaism 101.

The Pharisees asked Christ Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?  If Christ would have said "yes" there would have been a lot less friction between Him and the Pharisees.  

Instead of agreeing He said, a man ... shall be joined to his wife ... So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. This was Jehovah's original plan. But because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives. Mat. 19:5-6.

Christ's standards are higher than those of the Pharisees.  He said, whoever divorces his wife, except for a matter of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery;  Unless your wife is already guilty of sexual immorality if you divorce her you are the one that is guilty of causing her to commit adultery.

The idea seems to be that a woman should not be expected to live unmarried the rest of her life just because her husband discarded her.  The problem is that she becomes the wife of another man while her first husband is still alive.  Her first husband is responsible for her situation because he divorced her without just cause.

whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.  Not only is the wife, who was forced to get divorced, guilty of adultery but the man who marries her is also guilty of adultery because, in Jehovah's eyes, that woman is still part of her first husband ever since the two became one.

What seems so absurd is that many people in various Christian denominations love to claim "all" the words of Christ as infallible; all, that is, except this statement by Christ whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.  

This statement is so completely disregarded by many denominations.  Is it because the preacher does not want to lose any church members?  Is it because churches always tend to go with the flow of society, ignoring what the Bible actually teaches?  Christian churches are to be the moral leaders in any society, not the followers.

Here we are not even considering the idea of living together without being married.  If divorce and remarriage were not so easy in our society, and especially in the Christian churches, perhaps couples would try harder to be easier to get along with.    After all, living alone is not much fun.

Even though this post is written with males in mind, if the necessary changes are made, it also applies to females.  They also cannot do whatever they may feel like doing and still remain pure!

Friday, September 8, 2017

59 - Thou Shalt Not Murder

"You have heard that it was said to the ancients, 'You shall not kill,' and whoever kills will be liable to the judgment. 

But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother without cause will be liable to the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Empty-head!' will be liable to the council. But whoever says, ' fool!' will be liable to the fiery hell. 

Therefore if you offer your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,  

leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  

Make friends with your adversary quickly, while you are on the road with him, lest your adversary hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be cast into prison. 

Assuredly I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. 
Mat 5:21-26 EMTV


That is No Little Sin


We noticed in the last post that Jesus Christ did not agree with the Roman Catholic church that there are mortal and venial sins.  James wrote, For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all. James 2:10.  All sin is sin! 

Let us not flatter ourselves into thinking that those things we call "little sins" will be overlooked by The Just Judge.  They must be accounted for and Paul wrote, the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 6:23. 

Life after sin is possible but it cannot be achieved by hours of penance, self-torture, or paying indulgences.  It is available to us only because Christ Jesus died and rose again and we must be willing to accept that as the only payment for our sins.

Christ continues with the topic of "big sins" versus "little sins".  You have heard whoever kills (commits premeditated murder) will be liable to the judgment. (such an one must be put to death ... "by the house of judgment", the country's highest court system.) Gill.

Note that this word kill does not include a soldier's actions in a war.  I have more about this in: https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2012/07/is-pacifism-biblical.html


Anger



Christ continues, But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother (fellow human) without cause will be liable to the judgment.  Certainly, Christians are allowed to be angry when there is a reason for it, but not without cause.

Road rage is a good example of this.  Someone pulls in front of us, into the space which we rightfully thought was ours, and immediately we seeth.  This is anger without cause.  It might have been the other driver's innocent mistake, but even if it wasn't, so what if he is ahead of us rather than behind us.  No big deal!  Keep your cool.

It seems strange that Christ said that we will be brought to court for being angry about something.  The idea could be that we won't be taken to court for being angry but because of how we act in our anger and, in the example above, attack the other driver with a tire iron, or worse, and so we end up in court on a murder charge. 


Slander


It sounds as if Christ is speaking of slander because He says whoever says to his brother, 'Empty-head!' will be liable to the council (in Christ's day this meant the Jewish Sanhedrim. Strong G4892.)   The Supreme Council of the land. 

Instead of Empty-head the KJV uses the word Raca and some Bible commentators say that this word represents the worst that any person could call another person.

Judgement


But whoever says, 'fool!' will be liable to the fiery hell.  The word fool, in this case, designates a person as morally worthless and an apostate.  If a person takes it upon himself to judge another's character that way, he, himself, should receive a punishment fit for a rebel against God, that is, everlasting destruction. NW Com.  We may judge another person's actions but we may never judge another person's character!

Therefore,  (because, if the previous statement is true), if you offer your gift on the altar, (or your tithe in the offering plate) and there you remember that your brother has something against you, (this is important because your eternal welfare depends on this) leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Mat. 5:23-24. 

All of a sudden, during the church service, you remember that a fellow human being is upset with you so don't put off making things right with him/her.  If necessary leave the church service right then, as soon as you think of the problem, and be reconciled with your brother.  Later you come back and worship the Lord, with a clean slate.

I am sure that almost every one of us knows someone who refuses to seek reconciliation with some one else.  To them, Saint John writes Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15 NW.


Going to Court


If someone is threatening to take you to court do your level best to placate him.  Make friends with your adversary quickly; if you don't, the judge may find you guilty and you end up in jail and there you will stay until the whole debt has been paid.  You are much further ahead to just swallow your pride, try to avoid a court case, and not spend your income earning years in prison.

As far as a Christian taking a fellow Christian to a non-Christian court, St. Paul made it very clear that such a thing is not allowed.  Does any of you, having a matter against another, dare go to court before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 

So is there not among you a wise man, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brother and another?  Rather than taking a Christian to a civil court, find a wise man, in your church and accept his decision.  But brother goes to court against brother, and this before unbelievers (to a civil court)

First of all, it is actually a defeat for you that you have lawsuits against one another (a Christian against a Christian).
Secondly, Why not rather accept wrong? Why not rather accept being defrauded? 
Thirdly, you wrong and defraud, and these things to your brothers! 1 Cor. 6:1-8.  It completely destroys a church's testimony when non-Christians hear about Christians cheating Christians and then taking the poor defrauded brother to court.

Friday, September 1, 2017

58 - True Righteousness


Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfil. 

For assuredly I say to you, until heaven and earth may pass away, one iota or one tittle shall by no means pass away from the law until all things are fulfilled. 

Whoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men thus, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Mat 5:17-20 emtv. 


Validity of the Old Testament



Before this, Christ had several negative run-ins with the Pharisees and, to avert any false accusations about Him trying to turn the teachings of Moses on their head, He said do not be so rash as to think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets.


When the Jews spoke of The Law they were not referring only to the "Thou Shalt's" and "Thou Shalt Not's", they meant all The Pentateuch (the first five books of our Bible).  Likewise, the phrase, the prophets, meant all the writings of the prophets of our Old Testament, not just some favourite predictions of the future.  From His statement, it seems reasonable to assume that He might have meant everything between the first section and the last section which He named.

I did not come to abolish
(to set aside), but to fulfil (one of the meanings is to finish a task. Strong).

The Book of Hebrews goes into, step by step, detail to show us that The Law did not fulfil all the requirements but that Christ did finish the task of making reconciliation with God possible.  

For the law having a shadow of the good things to come ... can never with the same sacrifices, ... make those approaching perfect. Heb.10:1  

For the law made nothing perfect; but there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Heb.7:19  


assuredly I say to you - I tell you, you can count on this

until heaven and earth may pass awayas long as time exists 

one iota or one tittle - the smallest parts of the Hebrew Alphabet as found in sacred text

shall by no means pass away -

until all things are fulfilled - the words of Jehovah will not pass away until His plan on earth is finished.


Least in the Kingdom of Heaven


Whoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men thus, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.  Are there lesser and greater laws.  It seems that Christ is here calling out the Pharisees and their obsession with bigger sins and lesser sins. The Pharisees were remarkable for making a distinction between weightier and lighter matters in the law, and between what has been called, in a corrupt part of the Christian Church, mortal and venial sins. Clarke.


By having religious leaders teach that there are mortal and venial sins the general public has come to accept that committing "small sins" is irrelevant.  OK, we all agree that we should not murder or steal but surely, lying is a small sin and God won't mind so much.


Christ has a different approach to that idea, He said, Whoever ... shall break even one of the things you call little commandments and teach that it was just a little sin ... will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.


whoever does them 
(keeps even the little laws which you say are not important) and teaches (others to also keep) them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Regarding the phrase, kingdom of heaven, Barnes has this to say, The meaning of this passage seems to be this: in the kingdom of heaven, that is, in the kingdom of the Messiah, or in the church which he is about to establish.

unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  This is setting the standard very high.  They were well known and highly regarded for keeping their version of the law.  Christ says, That is not nearly good enough! You must be more righteous than that.

The Pharisees wore their righteousness on their sleeves; Christ continuously taught that true righteousness starts in the heart, not in outward appearances. Going to church on Sunday to fool your neighbours just does not cut it.

Because Christianity starts on the inside and works its way out it is real.  When Christ enters a person's life He changes the person's heart - "basic inclinations". Facade and pretended righteousness must fall by the wayside.