Matt. 5:23, 24


            Matt. 5:23 "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

            The word, "gift," comes from the Greek, "doron," meaning a sacrifice or offering.  The Lord tells us in Leviticus about freewill offerings: Lev. 22:18 "Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering; 19 Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats. 20 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. 21 And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein."

            The Lord shows us that his priority is on doing right over doing ceremony:

                        1.  1 Sam. 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king."

                        2.  Is. 58:5 "Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?"

            Thus, the above two passages teach us that it is better in the sight of the Lord to do right than to do ceremony, even if the ceremony was appointed of God.  To be reconciled to ones brother is more important than to offer a freewill offering or gift on the altar to the Lord.  Therefore, the efforts for reconciliation are priority over the offering of the gift. 

Matt. 5:27, 28

             Matt. 5:27 "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

            As we have previously noted, the Lord's standard is much greater than man's standard.  Under man's standard, only the physical act of adultery is adultery.  Under God's standard, even the lust for a woman in the heart of man is adultery in the eyes of God.  It is adultery "in the heart."  The scriptures say, "The thought of foolishness is sin."  God's standard for breaking his commandments is much greater than what most people want to admit. 

            With the knowledge of God's strict standard, we are humbled to realize that we are desperately wicked sinners saved only by the grace of God.  We cannot get ourselves right with God by works of righteousness.  When we realize the wickedness within our heart, we find it much easier to humble ourselves and to forgive others of their trespasses toward us.

            Some would say, since you have already sinned in your heart, you might as well go ahead and commit the act of adultery.  That is like saying we may as well continue in sin because he are already guilty of sin.  That is utter foolishness.  One sin does not justify another sin. 

Matt. 5:29, 30

             Matt. 5:29 "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

            First, this is not teaching that we should pluck out our right eye because we have looked on a woman to lust after her.  Nor is it teaching that we should cut off our right hand because we have done something with it that we should not have. 

            In the natural body there is a disease known as gangrene.  This involves the poisoning of a limb where the blood circulation has ceased.  This poison if it spreads into the rest of the body would bring about the death of the body by a horrible suffering.  If someone had gangrene in the eye, the only thing you can do to save the entire body is to remove the eye.  Likewise, if we had gangrene in the right hand, the only remedy for saving the entire body is to remove the right hand. 

            The church is compared to a body:

                        1.  Eph 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."

                        2.  Col 1:18 "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

            The word, "offend," comes from the Greek, "skandalizo," meaning "to scandalize."  Some sins such as adultery are of a scandalous nature to the church.  In order that the scandalous action of one not destroy the effective witness of the church, it is necessary to remove the offending member from the body of the church.  See 1 Corinthians chapter five for how this is to be done. 

            The use of the words, "eye" and "right hand," has reference to very important parts of the body.  None of us wants to lose our eye or our right hand.  Yet to preserve the body we would take such steps.  The preacher of the gospel and the deacon of the church are like the eye and the right hand of the church.  Even if it is the preacher or the deacon that commit scandalous acts, the church is to take steps to remove them from the body of the church until he repents.  This preserves the whole body of the church from destruction. 


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