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Ethics of the Heart

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
February 18, 2021 7:00 am

Ethics of the Heart

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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February 18, 2021 7:00 am

Laws are made to govern societies and maintain order in human relationships. But man-made laws can only address outward actions and assign consequences for those actions. God’s law, however, addresses the heart. Learn how Jesus took the historic idea of Hammurabi’s Code and flipped it upside down.

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Laws are made to govern societies and maintain order in human relationships. Man-made laws can only address outward actions of the sign consequences for those actions. God's law, however, addresses the heart on this broadcast of the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will learn how Jesus took the historic idea of Hammurabi's code and flipped it upside down to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically when we understand God's definition of sin in his standards for righteousness will see that the law ultimately drives us to our need for him open to Matthew chapter 5. Let's learn together from the teaching of Dr. Boyce number of years ago when Dr. John Gerstner was still living on the way this speaking one of our reformed theology conferences. I recall he was saying that modern authors write as if they had never met a righteous man or a virtuous woman may be true but it is we asked the question, where is true righteousness to be found that we know what real righteousness is we might very well ask that question as we ponder this portion of the sermon on the Mount because Jesus has just said in the verses immediately before hand that if we are to see the kingdom of heaven are righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees and the Pharisees or acknowledge that the most righteous people of their day they made at their business. The entire goal of their lives to study the law to abandon the keypad on the scribes did the same thing. But if our righteousness has to exceed their righteousness in order to be acceptable to God will then what in the world is this kind of righteousness that we somehow have to achieve where we ever going to find it while the answer of course is that we see it in Jesus Christ.

We can also answer the question this way by saying it's exactly what Jesus talks about in these remaining verses is called for righteousness exceeding that of the Pharisees in verse 28 now from verse 21. On to the end of the chapter he describes what a righteousness that is excessive of the heirs is really like.

We need to think about this carefully, because the issue is an issue of life or death, heaven or hell is he saying that we have to have an excess of righteousness. Righteousness like this ever going to get to heaven so we have to look at this carefully. There's no portion of the entire New Testament. To my knowledge the delineates between these two different kinds of righteousness more clearly on the verses now conclude this chapter I were we begin just a starting point is to notice that the contrast that Jesus develops error are not between Moses. Teaching is the teaching of the Old Testament in his own teaching is that there was a difference between the two because he's just said in the previous verses that he hasn't come to abolish the law, are the prophets to both fulfill them he's here to teach and do exactly what the Old Testament describes William Barclay's entirely wrong when he writes in one point that Jesus quotes the law only to contradict it and the substituted teaching of his own, is not doing that at all.

Rather, the contrast between what the teachers of his day were saying was the meaning of the Old Testament and what its meaning actually was. You see that even in the language he uses when Jesus quotes from the Old Testament. He always says it is written, meaning God has spoken. This is what we find in Scripture. This is the authority when Jesus speaks here of the teaching that he's disagreeing with them contradicting. He doesn't say it was written. He says it was said or has been said, indicating that what he is rejecting is not the Old Testament but the erroneous interpretations of the old testament that were common in his day.

Now, the way he handles this is by contrast, as I already said, and the point at which he begins these contrasts is the sixth commandment ever since the law had been given on Mount Sinai. The Jews were aware that it contained the words you shall not murder. So far so good. What happened in Jesus day is that the teachers of the law had combined. I commandment is Exodus 20 verse 13 with the verse in Numbers 35 verse 30 which demanded death for murderers and so the effect of combining the two was to suggest that what the 10 Commandments were forbidding was the unlawful taking of another's life and only that, because that of course is the offense that would be punished by execution. Now Jesus asked the question and the fact whether that is all that murder really is nothing but killing. Suppose a man would like to kill his enemies but he gets stopped by some unexpected circumstances almost ready to do it but something happens that we can actually carry through, or suppose he's too cowardly to kill nobody like to do it or suppose he's just afraid of being caught one of the merely hates his enemy or one of the insults them. Is he still innocent of breaking this commandment, Jesus says no of course not because of what Jesus is doing is looking at it from God's point of view way all of this would be evaluated in the heavenly court. We talk about human and nonhuman courts. All we can do with is the outward act because of course that's all we see, we can't see the heart and we can really get very far in determining motivations were talking about God's court. Appearing before the bar of his just as God does see the heart knows exactly what were like, and therefore Jesus is right when he says that anyone who even insults his brother calling him, you fool will be in danger of the fire of hell. Verse 22. It's not earth shattering Lee knew of course, sometimes when we read this teaching of our Lord in the New Testament we think it has to be entirely lawful in order to be authentic are actually from God.

But it's not all that because of course what Jesus is doing is merely interpreting the Old Testament rightly the people who have the Old Testament knew perfectly well that God did not merely command that we love him, but that we love our neighbors. Also, we love that we mustn't speak badly about them. You go back to the early chapters of the Old Testament you find there that this first domestic quarrel of all time between Cain enabled the two brothers resulting in the murder of the one grew out of jealousy and hatred. In other words, it was a matter of the heart to what Jesus is doing here as he interprets the sixth commandment is still treated as the Bible itself does not, as the people of his day were doing something else in these verses. Not only does it define what murder is according to God. It also tells us what we should do about it what it says is of her to do two things. First of all, were to make the wrong right being reconciled with her brother verses 24 and 25.

We mustn't allow this kind of hatred or anger to build up because bitterness poisons us in these supports things so need to make it absolutely right. And then secondly we have to do it right away even before we worship God, we might say, well, the worship of God is the most important thing. Nothing can stand in the way of that what Jesus says here is that we have to make the wrong our brother between brothers between sisters and brothers or whatever it may be right.

The reason God comes into the picture here is because anger like all sins is ultimately a sin against God, and therefore has to be made right before him well at this point, Jesus begins to talk about the danger of perishing. He talks about being thrown into prison until you pay the last penny is not talking here about a physical prison is what Jesus has in mind when he is doing this in the context of God imprisonment paying the ultimate penalty he's talking about hell and damnation for our sins. Other words what he's talking about in this section takes us right back to what he said in the verse before it where he says, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will in no sense enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words, you will perish, Jesus taught about murder in this section he now applies in a directly parallel way to adultery.

In verses 27 to 30.

In other words, he defines it first teaching that luster any other impure sexual font is the equivalent of adultery in God's sight. Just as hatred is the equivalent of murder in God's sight when he teaches what can be done about it saying that if we are troubled in this area. We need to deal with it radically and at once, just ask a few questions. Adultery wrong S Jesus teaches no question about it is sex outside of marriage long S that to teaches that very clearly. But Jesus isn't just picking on people who have fallen into sexual since he's doing it in a much deeper level probing into the meaning of this commandment and what he saying is at the root of the problem here, as in all other areas as impure.

Some of the words. The difficulty is the difficulty of the heart, I can't help reading this without thinking of a brilliant section of mere Christianity in which CS Lewis is writing about the sexual instinct and complaining that in our day. It's obviously gone wrong.

He has an interesting illustration. He says suppose you could get a large audience together for a striptease act as you're getting a girl to undress on the stage.

Now suppose he says you come to a country where you could fill a theater by simply bringing a covered plate onto the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see just before the lights went out that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, wouldn't you think that in that country. Something had gone wrong with the appetite for food and wooden anyone who would growing up in a different world think that there's something equally clear about the state of the sex instinct among us. Lewis is well aware of the objection that's raised at that point somebody would say well if you go into a country with is that much fascination with food. The obvious conclusion is that the people are starving. So to make the analogy the preoccupation with sex in our day as a reaction to the Victorian age, when it actually was hushed up CS Lewis says that's hardly the case. If you look around to see what actually is been happened in our day. Sex is not hushed up today as a matter of fact, it is discussed without and in magazines and radio television.

Not to mention in movies and yet we have more outright perversions more adultery or divorce more illegitimacy, more down like misery and confusion in this area and at any time in our history hushed up as Lewis is probably the other way around.

Reason it was hushed up in the Victorian era is that it become such a mess.

People had to repress, and he suggested perhaps that will come again in our own time. Now you ask what should be done. I suppose Jesus was thinking of people living in an age like ours, especially when he prescribed the radical treatment that he does describe in verses 29 and 30.

These verses say if you're right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out is better for you to lose one part of your body than your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away so long as people know that the early church father origin took that literally had himself castrated in order to avoid sexual sin.

That's not what Jesus is talking about because a little later on in Matthew he explains what he means about the hand and the in the 18th chapter, verses seven through nine. He defines hands and nicest things that cause people to sin, so the meaning is, get rid of whatever is tempting you to sin, especially in this area suggestive movies. Yes, especially the kind that you can rent in the video stores and bring home and watched privately pornography. Yes, even the daily talkshows that wallow in sexual dirt almost endlessly all of the above. Get rid of the poison turn the shows off protect your mind from such defilement. That's what Jesus is saying I'm well aware that that's only negative that the positive answer is needed as well. That is a healthy biblical view of what sex is and what marriage is to be, but that's not discussed here that comes elsewhere in the Bible. Here Jesus is talking about the problem and how to protect ourselves from the temptation. So we have two of these things are six of these examples, the third of them is divorce.

This was a great problem in Jesus day so many men were divorcing their wives as today, we would say of the Jewish people and that they hope that this happened in a culture so deliberately based upon the Bible and its teaching among the people who are known for being so family centered. Well, the answer is just what we've been seeing all along. The problem is the perversion of the heart.

Now, in the case of divorce work like this. The only passage in the Old Testament deals with divorce explicitly is Deuteronomy 24, 1 to 4 is worth reading. Goes like this. If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he find something indecent about her and he writes her a certificate of divorce gives it to learn sensor from his house and after she leaves his house. He becomes a life of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce is a touring sensor from his house really dies in the first husband who divorced her is not allowed to marry her again after that because she's been defiled. Now read that carefully is perfectly obvious that it doesn't teach divorce only recognizes that it happens voting requirement that husbands at least give their wives formal divorce certificates indicate that they renounced all claim on them. Point of the passage is to say that if that happens and the woman marries another man she can come back to her first husband.

That's what the passage is teaching but here's what happens in exactly the way people often function in moral areas today. The teachers of Christ time to become very legalistic about the certificate of divorce to be done in a very formal and legalistic way but they had become excessively liberal about what the husband was allowed to find displeasing or indecent, and his wife, and they ignore the matter of the remarriage entirely, was the subject of a well-known debate between two of the great rabbis whereby shall I allow my was the conservative he interpreted the grounds of divorce since being adultery or sexual impurity in the woman and on the other hand Hillel was the great liberal. He broadened the woman's offense to include even so trivial a matter of spoiling the dinner or being troublesome.

Given the quarrels or speaking disrespectfully of the husband's parents given the nature of the human heart is very easy to understand which of the two opinions prevailed and so in Jesus day divorce was allowed for almost anything.

Now this is all going to come up again in our study of Matthew because it is discussed at length in Matthew 19 versus 3 to 12, but already we see the answer. What Jesus is saying is that God doesn't like divorce all Pharisees go to discover that for themselves. They had read in Malachi 216 they would've seen God saying I teach divorce and they would find in other passages as well.

What Jesus is doing is referring to the Old Testament as a whole on the slide of upholding and preserving marriages. William Hendrickson is one of the good commentators on Matthew and here's the way he sums up what Jesus teaches, the more we study Christ teaching as presented to us in this passage, the more we begin to appreciate it here by means of a few simple words, Jesus discourages divorce refutes the rabbinical misinterpretation of the law reconfirms laws true meaning censures the guilty party defends the innocent and throughout it all upholds the sacredness and inviolability of the marriage bond as ordained by God. So that's the standard that we talked about a few other things taking over of this according to the surveys we have today most Americans lie all the time and with very little reason was a study done years ago by James Patterson and Peter Kim called the day America told the truth and the irony of the title is Americans don't tell the truth. In spite of that people in most cultures recognize the obligation to tell the truth were supposed to be up bright and trustworthy in our words will do that in Jesus day they knew they were to keep their word. What was the problem. Well, the Bible says that you are to stand by your word, but rabbis began to think of it in terms of all those taking vows which vials were violent and which were not.

If the Bible said is it does keep the oaths you've made to the Lord well.

Such oaths were clearly binding. What about all those work made to the Lord only to heaven. Sometimes they use words like that to avoid referring to the name of God or by the temple, or by one's wife vows like that binding. There is a whole tractate of the Mishnah. Their shipment of which is given over to distinguishing between which oaths were to be kept in which box have a little bit of a reflection of that later on in Matthew in the 23rd chapter were Jesus elaborates on some of these distinctions, but his point there is exactly the same as the point he's making here any failure to keep one's word is a sin before God. So the godly man of the godly woman was following after God and obeying Jesus Christ shouldn't have to take about all rather should be yes no should be no match or beat utterly trustworthy. Jesus deals next with the law of retribution or retaliation is a word forever.

The combination of words and flapping the lex talionis. It's a way we have of referring to this idea, which we sometimes described as an eye for an Ohio tooth for tooth is a very old legal principle goes the whole way back so far as we know to the law code of Hammurabi in the third millennium before Christ, and perhaps even before that, and is found quite a number of times in the Old Testament. It limits recovery to the actual damage done but is that what we are to do says Jesus is not all you know Everhart do we fulfill the law simply by not going beyond a retribution for what the actual damages. Jesus says no it's not that the right attitude before God is not to insist on our rights at all, rather necessary cheerfully to allow other people to on the house and finally talks about love for our enemies. So talking about retribution leads naturally to that again you see that Jews were well aware of the fact that we are to love our neighbors and they began to handle it linguistically. The way we do. The law said love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus called it the second of the great commandments, the first being the love the Lord your God with all your heart mind soul and strength. Wealth okay love your neighbor as yourself. And how about your enemies. You have to love them how they reason that it were to love our neighbors at excuses as we want to hate our enemies below the Bible to say anything of the sort of Jesus as no-no neighbors or everyone and where to love them all because this is the way God loves us God's enemies we hate him in our natural state, with every fiber of our being that Jesus loved us enough to send Lord Jesus Christ to be our Savior.

So you want to be a member of his kingdom under the rule of the God, it was love you.

To that extent that you have to love your neighbors as well. In order to do that you have to have a change of heart always brings us to the summary summary of verse 48 be perfect. Therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect. This also teach perfectionism because none of us are perfect, or will we be in this life, but if it doesn't do that, it does raise the question.

What exactly is verse 48 me be perfect. Therefore, as your father in heaven is perfect. Well I mentioned William Barclay earlier. He explains the meaning of that verse by the Greek word perfect telling loss which describes something perfectly suited to the end which was created. Like for example a full grown adult as opposed to a person who is still a child or an adult is acting like a child, the words premature uses another example, he says, is like a fool as well suited to the task for which it was devised as mean it does everything. But since the task of venison satisfied everybody task are one of the great commentators thinks Cory is right in supposing that the under lying Aramaic word. The Greek word now, but the Aramaic Jesus actually spoke means all including the reason for using that here is that Jesus is just said in the verses before that that God shows his grace even to the evil as well as to the good and the point would be. We should be like God and that side sees it much the same way he says this is really just calling for impartiality.

This is perfection in the sense of the complete absence of partiality, thus imitating him who was no respecter of persons, and lavishes his favors upon the just and the unjust alike. Well, those interpretations could be on the right track but I don't think so.

I think DA Carson is right when he says let's not drop the idea of perfection so easily extra were never going to be perfect in this life, but that's what we should aim at. That's what we're required to be, let's not forget that this whole section is put in the context of our having a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, without which we will not enter heaven. Jesus is talking about something that exceeds any human capacity whatsoever. Carson notes that I think is right in this, that the form of this verse is exactly like Leviticus 19, verse two, which says be holy, because I the Lord your God am holy verse of Peter picks up and talks about in his letters, so here it says be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect. What is teaching is teaching that this is the design of the law. That's what Jesus has in mind. This is the direction in which the law has always pointed and it's not a matter of mere judicial restraints, which is what human law does. You mustn't do this and you mustn't do that, nor even does it merely point to the law of love. Rather, it points to all of the perfections of God exemplified by the authoritative interpretation of the law bound up in these antitheses other words, it's telling us that we have to be like Jesus Christ. Somebody will say yes, but I thought salvation had to do entirely with imputed righteousness and the answer is yes it does is not all there is to it often said when we talk about being justified by faith, the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to us. Apart from any works of our own, but that is not all that happens in salvation. Jesus of the Gospels never seems to talk about imputed righteousness, but he does talk about a change of life does say to Nicodemus you have to be born again. All that really means is that there is no justification without regeneration dresses is no regeneration without justification. That's only another way of saying that if were to begin to attain the righteousness that's required of us that we would see happen. We must have a new life must be transformed part Barclay is right when he says that we should be perfectly fitted to that for which we were created.

That isn't some low standard as if it means only to be a well-rounded person we are created to be like God is how Adam was created let's make man in our image, says the very back beginning of Genesis were to be like God where to aim in the character of Jesus Christ. You see, the only way will ever be able to aim out at eventually, by the grace of God attainable. We get to heaven as if God himself gives us a transformed heart desires, righteousness hungers without a bubble. Things you don't have that desire in your heart you need to come to Jesus Christ to find that change that you need that nature which flows from him, in which aspires to a righteousness which surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law is prayer. Father, we thank you for this teaching. Hard as it is for us to receive because the standard is so high and deep is utterly impossible.

We can deal with the externals, but we can't by ourselves change our hearts so we actually love people. Instead of being angry with them and treating them and we actually have pure thoughts of actually speak that which is right constantly all the time. We need a new nature and so we come to you for that. We ask you to begin to lead us in that way as you do, that we might appraise you as the one from whom all good things come to that which alone we have in Jesus Christ we pray in his name. You are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce, a listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.

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