Feb 17, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Do not cross the double line. Do not pass. Do not enter. Do not steal. Do not kill. Do not lie. Do not commit adultery. Do not covet. Do not. Do not. Do not.
Have you ever noticed how negative life can sometimes get if we are not careful? We can get trapped in the "do not" whirlpool and feel like everything around us is taboo. Anything we do will bring lightning bolts down on our heads. Growing up, I felt that way. I grew up in an era when the church laid down lots of rules and regulations and said if you don't do any of these things, you'll be alright with God.
It's funny how easy it is to get trapped in that mentality. The church still has that problem in many ways. The Pharisees still live in too many of our congregations. They quickly point to the things we shouldn't do and tell us how evil we must be because of our behavior.
Jesus never seemed to work that way. It seems to me that he operated from a different point of view. It's not that he didn't understand the laws the Pharisees preached. His Sermon on the Mount proved that and went far beyond what they held as the universal standard. You can hear his explanation of the law in his words recorded by Matthew:
"You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, 'You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire.
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
"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 lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
"Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be 'Yes, Yes' or 'No, No'; anything more than this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:21-37 NIV)
These demands certainly go much further than the Pharisees required, but Jesus puts a spin on what he asks of us that the temple could never do. Remember the two commands he says sums everything up? He puts those in pretty positive terms. Love God and love others.
How much more positive can his commands get? He gives us two and says he will send his Spirit to empower us to keep these two commands. He gives us simple rules to follow, then tells us he will provide us with the means to do it — what an extraordinary deal.
We could never keep the old rules. Jesus comes and explains the old rules start with thoughts we harbor and mull over until they become more than just ideas. They grow into acts of disobedience. Murder begins with anger. Rape and adultery start with lust. Theft grows from the seed of covetousness. Acts of disobedience don't just happen; they germinate from ideas planted in our minds because of the evil desires within us. We take the God-given emotions and feelings we have and allow Satan to twist them and try to satisfy them in unhealthy disobedient ways to gain temporary pleasure.
Those who listen to Jesus' words and follow him have found the promise God gave to the Israelites pretty applicable in their everyday life as well. Moses shared it with them in Deuteronomy 30, and it goes like this:
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20 NIV)
I think I'll choose life by following his decrees as simple as they are: love God and love others. It's a good way to live.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked NIV are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV): Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission of Zondervan