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Sermon on the Mount - Murder in the Heart

by Chris Dawson
August 2, 2009
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  1. After telling the Jews that their righteousness must exceed the that of the scribes and Pharisees (v.20), He then illustrates what He meant by that statement.
  2. He draws a contrast between the righteousness required of His kingdomʼs citizens and the righteousness of the Jewish leaders.
  3. He draws this contrast by bringing up 5 moral and religious doctrines taught by the Jews and then gives their true spiritual meaning.
  4. The 5 points are:
    1. The law against murder
    2. The law against adultery
    3. The law against swearing
    4. The law against retaliation
    5. The law of love
  1. You have heard that it was said... (v.21)

    1. This phrase, “You have heard that it has been said,” is used at the beginning of each of the five points.
    2. Notice 2 parts to the verse:
      1. “You shall not murder”
        1. This is the 6th commandment of the 10 (Ex. 20)
        2. This commandment forbad murder: to kill unlawfully and with premeditation
      2. “Whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment”
        1. This is the traditional application and interpretation made by the scribes and Pharisees.
        2. “Judgement” probably refers to local courts of their day.
          1. “in danger of” means “liable to”
          2. (v.25) - The judgment of the civil judge
          3. Deut. 16:18 - Appoint judges in their cities to handle civil matters
          4. Num. 35 - Cities of refuge where accidental killing waited for judgment
          5. Josephus, Antiquities 4, 8, 14 - There were 7 judges in each city
        3. This interpretation was partly true; But it didnʼt get at the root of the sin.
  2. But I say to you... (v.22)

    1. Jesus responds to each of the 5 points with this phrase, “But I say to you...”
    2. God notes the things that take place in the heart
      1. 1 Sam. 16:7 - Man looks at outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart
      2. Matt. 15:19 - Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication
    3. Jesus points to sins which take place before murder is carried out:
      1. Anger
        1. Not all anger is sinful
          1. Mark 3:5 - Jesus looked at them with anger
          2. Eph. 4:26 - Be angry, and do not sin
        2. Christians are not to be characterized by anger
          1. Col. 3:8 - Now put off all these: anger, wrath, malice
          2. Gal. 5:22, 23 - The fruit of the Spirit is... self-control
        3. Anger against a brother (not to say murder) is deserving of the local court
      2. “Raca”
        1. Anger now expressed verbally
        2. Raca - term of reproach used in the time of Christ meaning “block head!”
        3. This is deserving of the council (Sanhedrin)
          1. “You fool”
            1. More intense contemptuous speech
            2. Not only a lack of sense, but also a lack of piety and character
            3. Deserving of hell fire (the fire of hell, Gehenna)
              1. 2 Kin. 23:10 - Valley of Hinnom
              2. Mark 9:43-48 - The place of everlasting torment
  3. Illustration of Reconciliation #1 (vv.23, 24)

    1. Make amends with your brother before offering your worship to God
      1. If you want to be right with your God, you have to be right with your brother.
        1. 1 John 4:20, 21 - “I love God...” must also love your brother.
        2. Matt. 25:31-46 - The goats were condemned for their lack of love for the brethren.
      2. “Worship is not spiritual car wash”
      3. If you do the wrong, go to the one offended and take care of it.
    2. Note also the duty of one offended (Matt. 18:15-18)
      1. Gal. 6:1 - Restore a brother in the spirit of gentleness
      2. Lev. 19:17, 18 - You shall not hate your brother in your heart... I am the Lord
  4. Illustration of Reconciliation #2 - (vv.25, 26)

    1. Make amends with your adversary to avoid trouble
      1. Here a man falls into debt
      2. He is being taken to the judge
      3. Work out your situation with your adversary before the chain of events listed
      4. How will he work to pay his debt while in prison? He wonʼt.
    2. Is there a spiritual application here?


  1. Jesus illustrated the importance of avoiding hateful emotions toward our brothers and sisters and toward all people.
  2. The kingdom of God is to reflect righteousness, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:17)
  3. We are to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3)
  4. We are to be pure in heart (Matt. 5:8)
  5. We are to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9)
  6. If you have been harboring ill-will toward another, get yourself together and make amends.