Well, it's quite possible that the most important question that any man, woman, or child could ask of themselves is, what does God require of me if I am to stand before Him in judgment, as Scripture says? When you stand before God on Judgment Day, what exactly is He going to require of you before letting you into heaven?
Spoiler alert, someone else must fulfill that requirement. This is the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright, and today Don tackles this very difficult question as he kicks off a series called, Are You Good Enough for God?
Friend, if you have your Bible handy, let's get started now. Here is Don Green to continue in his ministry of teaching God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit. What I want to do here today is to simply show you that in two parts to this message that the Old Testament required heart righteousness from the people of God.
That was the standard. And as Jesus speaks in the second part of today's message, you're going to see that Jesus Christ was requiring heart righteousness as well. And so all of a sudden, everything about your inner man is on display. Everything is at stake here. There are no secrets before God in what we are about to look at.
And I want you to think about it this way. We are used to people who have professional or trade skills to be able to break things open in order to repair and fix them. A mechanic goes to an engine and opens it up in order to repair that which is not working properly.
He goes beyond the externals and gets to the internal workings of the engine in order to repair it and make it work properly. In a similar way, a physician will penetrate the human body in order to remove diseased tissue, either through splicing it open or through something less invasive. But he'll deal with the inner body in order to correct that which is ailing it. We're used to this in human terms. Well here, in a much more profound way, in a much more important way, the Lord Jesus goes inside the human being, goes into the inner man, as it were, and says, this is the matter which must be corrected.
This is where the problem is. It's found in the heart, not in the external rituals of man. And so what we want to do, since Christ started at the Old Testament and then made his way into his lengthy exposition in verses 21 to 48, just in the most brief manner, I want to remind you, and for some of you probably for the first time maybe, see that all along the Old Testament required a righteousness of heart from man. It was never simply about external sacrifices. It was never simply about going through the rituals and ceremonies and the feasts that was established in the Old Testament. Those were all means to a greater end. And that's what you have to understand.
The law always had a moral force that went beyond external behavior. Always. Always, always, always.
And you need to see this. Go back to the passage where the Lord first gave us the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20. Exodus chapter 20. And what you find as God gave the Ten Commandments, giving a vertical dimension to them, saying that you shall have no other gods before me, should not worship or serve them, should not take my name in vain, remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
And then there enters in a more horizontal dimension with relationships among men. Honor your father and mother, you shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not commit false witness against your neighbor. That's verses 13 through 16 that I just ran through very quickly there. But then in verse 17, what is so often neglected, the tenth of the Ten Commandments is this. You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
The breadth of that is astonishing. All of a sudden we realize that God is prohibiting matters of the heart rather than simply restraining external behavior like theft or physical adultery. And so you find that there is this inner dimension to the law, this inner dimension to the Ten Commandments from the very beginning. And we realize that God is applying his law to the heart, not simply to the external man. And until you understand that, you haven't understood the first thing about the Ten Commandments or the law of God or the righteousness that he requires. God looks on the inner man.
He looks on the heart. Look over at Deuteronomy chapter 5 where the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments are repeated in Moses' final sermon to the people of Israel before they enter the Promised Land and he was taken away. You find in Deuteronomy chapter 5 verse 17, I'm being selective here, and you just see the latter part of the Ten Commandments being repeated. The other ones come earlier in the passage.
I just want you to see the principle of inner regulation for now. Verse 17, you shall not murder. Deuteronomy 5, 18, you shall not commit adultery. 19, you shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet. And when you take these as a seamless whole, you realize that it's not just the illicit desire for something that does not belong to you that is present, that that tenth commandment helps us understand the moral force of everything that went before it. It's not just that you shall not actually murder, it's that you shall not desire it in your heart. It's not simply that you shall not commit external adultery, you shall not desire it in your heart.
And on it goes. God, in other words, sees your inner man. He sees your inner thoughts, he sees your inner attitudes, he sees your inner motivations, he hears the words that you whisper in private to others that you would never want broadcast to people at large. God sees all of that and says, this also must be holy, not simply what man sees on the outside. And in so many places, the Old Testament made this clear, that God sees, he evaluates, he judges attitudes and desires and motives and the quiet gossip that's whispered in the ears of those who will receive it, not just your behavior that's on display for all men. We won't look at all of these passages, but I'll give you the text reference that you can see later on. First Chronicles, chapter 28, verse 9. First Chronicles 28, verse 9. The Lord searches all hearts and understands every intent of the thoughts.
That's pretty comprehensive. All of it, every intent of the thoughts. The Lord is scrutinizing every aspect of your inner man at all times without exception. Look at Psalm 19. And for those of us that say that we love the Word of God, Psalm 19 being a psalm that greatly extols the perfections of the Word of God, should understand where David ends up at the conclusion of that psalm after he said the law of the Lord is perfect. What's his concluding takeaway in light of the way that God has revealed himself in nature in verses 1 through 6 of Psalm 19, and the way that God has revealed himself in his Word in verses 7 through 11? He looks inward.
He looks to his inward man. And with a sense of fear and trembling in verse 12, he says, who can discern his errors? Equip me of hidden faults. Also, keep back your servant from presumptuous sins.
Let them not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Look where he ends in verse 14. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Why would he say that? It's because the God of Revelation in nature and in the written Word is a God who examines the inner man. David understood that it was not simply about external matters. It wasn't simply about what he did, but that God looked at his heart and he said, O God, in light of the greatness of your revelation, in light of the way that you have displayed your glory in the heavens and in your Word, and in light of the fact that I am open and laid bare before you, O God, let the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, because I realize how serious this is. In Psalm 51, verse 6, turn over to Psalm 51 with me.
Psalm 51, verse 6, David in his confession of his sin after he sinned with Bathsheba, killed her husband through an illicit military maneuver. In confessing his sin, he says in verse 6, behold, you desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part you will make me no wisdom. God, in the innermost man, you want it to be true and righteous there.
Look at Psalm 139. Psalm 139, verse 1, he says, O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up, you understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it all. The cumulative weight of the Scriptures which could be multiplied again and again and again make it obvious to us that in the Old Testament, God made it plain that he required an inner righteousness, a heart righteousness of the inner man. Proverbs chapter 16, verse 2, you don't need to turn there, but in Proverbs chapter 16, verse 2, it says, all the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives. And in Jeremiah 17, verse 10, the Lord himself speaks and he says, I the Lord search the heart. I test the mind even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds. And so, in numerous passages that we've already looked at, and many others that we could see, we're not looking at isolated texts out of context, we are seeing, beloved, we are seeing a predominant theme of Revelation, that God is a God most high.
He is the eternal, immutable God, and he not only created the outer man, he created the inner man as well. And that your inner man, for you young people, understanding this from the start could save you a world of trouble later on in life, understand that the God who created human flesh also created the inner man and intended that to be a pristine sanctuary of worship and obedience and devotion to him. And that nothing unclean, nothing unworthy, was to intrude upon that. So much so, that reli... what?
Listen to this, oh my goodness, especially when we're about to celebrate Communion. So much so, that religious ritual from a rebellious heart is a sin against God rather than something that he finds pleasing. Look at Proverbs chapter 21. Proverbs 21. Proverbs 21 verse 27 says, the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination.
How much more when he brings it with evil intent. And so as God looks on those who would approach him in worship, he's evaluating the attentions with which we do it. Oh, what that says about the casual approach of many toward gathering together with the people of God and approaching him, huh? If you look at the book of Isaiah chapter 1, hadn't intended to read this, but how could I not when it comes to my mind? He says in verse 10, hear the word of the Lord. Isaiah chapter 1, hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom. Give ear to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah. What are your multiplied sacrifices to me?
Says the Lord. I've had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle, and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. When you come to appear before me, who requires of you this trampling of my courts?
Beloved, you understand they were going through the motions. They were going through the prescribed sacrifices, and yet God says you are trampling upon the holy place of worship. You are desecrating the whole purpose for which these things were appointed by the spirit with which you bring them, and he commands them.
He says stop it in verse 13. Bring your worthless offerings no longer. Incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath, the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure iniquity in the solemn assembly.
I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts. They have become a burden to me. I am weary of burying them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you.
Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves. Make yourselves clean. Remove the evil of your deeds from my sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Reprove the ruthless. Defend the orphan.
Plead for the widow. The external stuff doesn't matter to me if it's not accompanied by a heart life of righteousness. Now, you and I are all in the same boat to one degree or another. We tend to worry about our appearances before men. What does so-and-so think about? Does this person like me?
How does this appear? What are they thinking? I hope, beloved, that you see that as we've gone through these preliminary texts here, that none of that stuff matters by comparison. None of that is important. It should be obvious that you should have a far greater concern about your life. A holy God knows your secret thoughts. He knows your secret words. Nothing is hidden from Him. And the God who sees through you like that is a God who is holy and who does not compromise His standard and who is offended by the sinfulness that He finds in your heart.
Let's just be real today, huh? Let's just be candid and faithful to Scripture in what we see and in what we say. It is imperative for you to see yourself in a vertical way, in a vertical dimension. God is looking down. Man may see nothing to complain about on the outside, but God sees the inner motions of your heart, the prolonged, the persistent attitudes. And if that brings conviction upon you, then let it bring conviction. If that convicts you, it's because it's necessary for you to be convicted of these things and to realize that while man may laugh it off, this is a matter of utmost seriousness to a holy God. Now, that's the Old Testament background from which Jesus was speaking in general when He said the Law and the Prophets.
He was pointing people back. You could look back to the Law and Prophets and find that God requires a heart-righteousness. Well now, as we pivot into, and you can turn back to Matthew chapter 5 now, as you turn back to Matthew chapter 5, you'll find that the Lord is expanding and expounding on this very same theme. Having said that you must have a righteousness that surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, He goes into an extended discussion applying the Law to the inner man. And what He's doing here is He is upholding heart-righteousness against the false external righteousness of the Pharisees. The Pharisees had covered up this fundamental principle with all manner of external observances that weren't even called for in the Scriptures.
Multiplied fasts and things of that nature, wearing their garments long and gaudy so that people would look at them and focus on the outer man. And the Lord comes, as it were, and He blows off the accumulated dust of 400 years of silence, of divine revelation, the intervening 400 years, and as it were, He picks it up and He goes, blows all of that away in the section that we're going to look at in order to get back to the clean and the purifying Word of God that's applied to the heart. And what we're going to do is cover this section, verses 21 through 48, in an overview fashion today. We're just going to look at the main principle that He is enunciating here, that He's teaching here, and we'll save for future weeks a closer look at the individual passages.
This is an opportunity for us to kind of rise up and see the big picture. This is a satellite view of a very important section of Scripture, and I want you to see what unifies this section of Scripture rather than what makes each section distinct from one another. This is such an important matter of biblical interpretation, of understanding the text, is to be able to see the global picture of what's going on, the big picture, so that you understand how to interpret individual sections in light of the overarching thing that is going on. Jesus here in this section of Scripture that I read earlier has an obvious pattern that He is following.
What He's doing is this. He is quoting a misapplication of the law by the Pharisees in order to refute it and to recover the truth and to show the true moral force of the principle that was on their lips. Remember that we said that the Pharisees relied on oral tradition in order to establish their authority. As we said, there was the written law of Moses and what the Pharisees said was that God had also given an oral tradition to Moses and to those who followed him that added to the law, that protected the law, and that if you followed the oral tradition, you were never in danger of violating the written word.
Now that all sounds well and fine and good. The only problem was it wasn't true. It was a total fabrication.
There was no such thing. But that became that on which they used and based their entire authority. Verses 21 to 48, you'll find Jesus using words along the lines that say, you have heard that it was said, making a reference to the oral tradition, invoking in a summary form the manner in which the Pharisees took this and applied it and externalized it. And so, when He says you have heard that it was said, Jesus is referring to the prevailing teaching of the Pharisees as it existed amongst his contemporaries, not in an effort to reverse or to modify the law, watch this.
Oh, this is so important. There are those who say Jesus is changing the law here. That's impossibly wrong. It can't possibly be correct because He had just said, look at verse 17, He had just said, don't think I came to abolish the law or the prophets. I didn't come to abolish them but to fulfill them. So if He's coming to fulfill them, He wouldn't suddenly turn around and start contradicting it by what He's saying. What He's contradicting are the Pharisees and enforcing and applying the true moral force of the law is what He's doing here. And what Jesus does is He calls people back to the heart righteousness, watch this, listen to this, calls them back to the heart righteousness which God had always required as we saw from a dozen passages just now. And so, with that in mind, notice how Jesus will quote something that focuses on externals and then He'll apply it to the heart.
Why does He do that? Because Scripture requires heart righteousness. That's what the Old Testament did. And because Jesus was here fulfilling the law and the prophets, He fulfilled it in part by His teaching, then He is showing what the law really means in what He says. In the process of seeing that, we have detailed force one after another after another, sins of the heart of which we're all guilty of. No one could hear this teaching from Jesus and come away thinking, I satisfy the standard. I bring in my own accord, I bring from my own heart the righteousness that God requires. Let me just tell you as a preview of coming attractions that that's not the reaction that you should take away. That's not your take away from this text that we're going to look at. Jesus elevates the righteousness that God requires in a way that shows clearly and convincingly that we've all violated it and fallen short of the glory of God. So we come before God as humble beggars seeking grace rather than those with pride and expectation that we deserve something from Him.
This is so very fundamental. That's Don Green bringing our study for today to a close on The Truth Pulpit. Well, friend, if you'd like to share this message with a friend, we invite you to send them to our website. That's thetruthpulpit.com. There you can find out more about our ministry, about getting free CDs and podcasts, and much more, all at thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright inviting you to join us again next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word from The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-17 01:18:46 / 2023-03-17 01:27:21 / 9