5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’
5:22 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.
5:23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,
5:24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.
5:25 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.
5:26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
5:29 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.
5:30 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.
5:31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’
5:32 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.
5:33 “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.’
5:34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
5:35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
5:36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
5:37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Jesus Christ paints a very extreme picture of what sin does to our lives. He tells us plainly that if we indulge into sin, we are doing the acts of the evil one (verse 37). Furthermore He goes into the extreme that if one part of our body commits sin, we should cut it off and get rid of it because that part will lead us down a path away from God and into Hell. This means that sin leads down a path to destruction, we need to go to the extreme to pursue holiness and say no to sin.
Sin causes us to grow blind to the things are right and pure. In the end if we do not deal with our sin, it will eternally separate us from God and miss out the wonderful blessing of knowing a loving heavenly Father. Jesus tells us these things because He knows that the end result of those who follow after sin is eternal punishment. His words here serve as both a warning and encouragement.
When we come to the point of conversion, the desires of sin no longer have a strong grasp as they once did. However, it is also our role to keep on pursuing holiness because sin still has a way of finding us. This passage serves as a clear and distinct guideline on how to pursue the Christian life, say no to sin, and the consequences that follow. Trust that God is intending that we avoid sin and ultimately enjoy a deep relationship with Him on earth and forever in eternity.
Jesus’ sermon from the mount in Matthew is one that was directed straight at the condition of the heart. The law of Moses was given to Israel and God expected them to follow the law but also that they would have understanding as to why the Lord’s commands existed. Jesus gave “new” commands on top of Moses’ to highlight that the laws were not there simply for obedience sake but to make them better people. To make them a people that would be a shining light in a world of darkness. As any parent would acknowledge; children following the rules just for the sake of the obedience is not a bad thing. But it falls short of what the parent really wants, which is to train the children to know right from wrong and to mature into righteous adults.
As Christians we are not bound to the laws of Moses. However, it would be wise for us to understand what Jesus is telling the people. These are the things that God desires. He desires us to have pure motives and a clean heart. He desires for us to have a pure mind and to treat everyone with love and respect. He desires us to walk blameless.