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Have you ever been angry with someone? Lusted after someone? According to Jesus, that makes you a murderer and an adulterer. But take heart, Jesus doesn’t stop there. As we continue our series Jesus starts to get real specific about different topics and issues throughout the rest of Matthew chapter 5—beginning with anger and lust. Learn more about what Jesus teaches about lust and anger from the Sermon on the Mount.
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Have you ever been angry with someone? Lusted after someone? According to Jesus, that makes you a murderer and an adulterer. But take heart, Jesus doesn’t stop there. As we continue our series, “Summer on the Mount,” Jesus starts to get real specific about different topics and issues throughout the rest of Matthew chapter 5—beginning with anger and lust.
It's great to be with you guys here in Dallas. Hello to Plano and Fort Worth and my home campus of Frisco. If I haven't had the privilege of meeting you, my name is Connor Baxter. I serve as the campus pastor a little bit north from here at our Frisco Campus. I am so excited to be back in the room here with you guys in Dallas.
First, just to say thank you. I have so many stories to tell you about what God is doing. Because of the way members of this body have stewarded their lives, have prayed, have given sacrificially, God is going to work up north at our Frisco Campus. I'm going to share some of those stories with you today, but what I'm more excited to share with you about is the story of God and how it changed my life.
Specifically, we're picking up this week back in the Sermon on the Mount. I've had the privilege of being over there in Israel where Jesus gave this sermon. Here's a picture of my now bride and me standing where Jesus himself gave this message. I love this picture, because that gal I was dating at that point in time (I was well on the hunt) became my bride a little bit later down the road. That Bible in my hand in that picture is the same Bible I have today.
Perhaps more important than all of that, the words of my Savior he gave right there have stayed with me over the last few years. I'll tell you, I have the Sermon on the Mount memorized. I don't say that to impress you. We're going to talk about some guys today who had not three chapters of the Bible but five books of the Bible memorized who didn't get after it. So don't let that impress you.
I tell you that because as Scripture I have studied and spent time in and disciplined myself to memorize and meditate on at least monthly and review it, and having been there where Jesus was when he gave this, it continues to radically call me to something and move me toward a deeper understanding of who God is, a deeper desire to want to follow him, and a deeper understanding why I rightfully love him.
That's why I'm excited to be with you guys this morning and share with you what God has for us in the Sermon on the Mount. You also need to know this message of the Sermon on the Mount was a message that got ahold of me when I really started to walk with my Savior, with Jesus. My life did not always look like the kind of guy you would want to stick up here to communicate something from the Scripture.
My life was full of sin, self-centeredness, and chasing girls, parties, and pleasure. I pursued sports to build up a name and a reputation for myself. That marked all of my life…drugs, anything I could do to find value or worth or satisfaction. I chased all of those things. Part of the reason I did that was because I was hurt by the church. I know some people in this room can identify with that.
I remember showing up and going through the doors of where the church would gather and feeling judged and feeling like I had nothing to offer and like everybody there was better than myself. What it did is it moved me to licentiousness. It moved me to feel like I had a license to sin, because, "You know what? If these people who know these words don't live them out when they're not here gathered together, what does it matter if I do or don't?" That was part of my understanding.
The other part of my understanding was I did see some people who said what they said and talked the talked but also walked the walk, and that was hard for me to look at, because I was not somebody, as I just told you, who was anywhere close to the level of obedience or righteousness I saw in other people. I just said, "I'm throwing in the towel. I can't live that way. I can't be that perfect. I can't [fill in the blank]." The Sermon on the Mount was written for me, and it's written for you.
So if you're here and you feel like the church is hypocritical, you're going to find out you agree with Jesus when he speaks out against hypocrisy. When I read that in the text we'll be in today, I realized I didn't disagree with Jesus; I agreed with him. I disagreed with the false outward appearance of Christianity. Some people take that name, and it's used for hypocrisy. Jesus disagreed with that. Then I realized I didn't have to do anything to come to my Savior. I didn't have to earn my righteousness. It is given to me.
So that's the message of the Sermon on the Mount, and that's what we're going to keep unpacking today. I want to just say thank you to this body, to Watermark, to you. I was a guy who showed up here a few years ago who did not think the church was the place following Jesus was supposed to happen because of my experience, but this community of faith has been a living sermon in my life. So I am grateful and I am humbled and it is an honor to be here and spend time with you this morning. Let me pray for us as we dive into the text, and we'll keep rolling.
Lord, we love you. Thank you for how your Word is living and active. Thank you that it does not return void. Thank you that it has instructed me and taught me for years, and specifically in the past weeks. I pray that this morning as we spend time together it would be focused on you and what you would have for us. Would you use your Word to move us?
I pray we're not just gathering information today, but I truly pray that our lives would be transformed; we would not just be hearers of your Word but we would be doers, Lord. There's nothing inside of ourselves that would cause us to do that but your Spirit that dwells in us, for those who have put their faith in you. You move us toward action, so we love you and we praise you. In your name we pray, amen.
We're going to spend a lot of time in the Sermon on the Mount. We've already started to, and we have several weeks that are coming. The first thing I always try to do is tell myself in one sentence what this passage or this message Christ had is about. Here's the one sentence of what the Sermon on the Mount is all about. It's about the characteristics of the citizens of the kingdom and the conduct which marks them.
It's about the characteristics and the conduct of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Put in another way, it's about the heart of believers and their hands. It's about the beliefs we have and then our behaviors that are a result of our beliefs. It's about our attitude and it's about our actions. That's what the Sermon on the Mount is all about, and Jesus is communicating that to us, to folks who say, "I walk with him."
Just as a reminder where we've been… We're going to get to verse 21 today and the next few verses out of that, but we've already spent time in Matthew 5. As a recap, it starts with the Beatitudes in verses 5-12. In those Beatitudes, the first three tell us the foundations of the faith, the beliefs about those who are part of the kingdom. In the middle, that fourth one is about the focus of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Then it's going to roll out of that and talk about the fruit in our lives that's produced as a citizen of the kingdom.
Then it follows with, "Hey, if you're going to be about this blessed life, just know it is going to be marked by fruit, but you are going to have foes. You will be persecuted. You will be reviled, and people will utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. But rejoice and be glad. Your job, Christian (verses 13-14), is to be salt of the earth, to be the light of the world." That's what we covered last week.
Then he flows out of that into verses 17-19 and talks about the role of the Messiah, which was not to come and abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them. That's what Jesus did for us. All of that is working itself toward verse 20. We're going to read it together. This is the verse that summarizes the entire Sermon on the Mount, the sentence I already gave you. This is what he was working toward. Everything we're going to cover today and the rest of our time in the Sermon on the Mount comes out of verse 20.
Matthew 5:20, the key verse of your Sermon on the Mount, is this: "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." What we're going to cover for the rest of our time are correction passages, correcting a misbelief and a misapplication and a misunderstanding of what has always been true of the people of God.
He's going to say, "The Pharisees, those who have gone around telling you what's right and what's wrong and that you need to follow their way… I'm telling you, you have to exceed their righteousness." The hearers of Jesus in this time would have maybe been discouraged or they maybe would have been encouraged. If you're like me, when I first heard that…
Part of my story is I just went, "Exceed the righteousness of the folks who can quote your Bible and can stand on stages and teach it? Exceed that level of righteousness? I can never exceed that, so I'm going to give up now." Jesus is going to correct that thinking. He's going to talk about where true righteousness comes, and he's going to expose the superficial righteousness of the Pharisees that is focused on external behaviors.
Christ says, "That is superficial righteousness. That is plastic righteousness. If you're thinking that you're going to be a citizen in my kingdom because you are doing certain things I've called you to do… You're not going to be one of my citizens if you think it is a result of what you've done." This wasn't a message we just find in our New Testament; this is one for today.
We can look around and see other beliefs and other religions that talk about how your external righteousness is the way you get to heaven or one day when you die you're going to spend eternity with God if your external behaviors match it. You hear it said, "Unless you're circumcised, you will not be a part of God's kingdom." "Unless you believe in Jesus and are baptized, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Jesus is going to say, "No. It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Your righteousness is not based on your works but what I've done for you." The best place to go study this week if you want to learn more on that is read Philippians 3, where a guy came out of this religion of false understanding of the Old Testament and into an understanding of what God has always done through history. Go read Philippians 3 about Paul and the way he did not put confidence in his flesh.
That's what Jesus is saying to his audience. You cannot put confidence in your flesh and good deeds. You have to put your confidence in the God of the universe who put on flesh to pay for what you could not do in your flesh on your own. That's what he's moving us toward. So now as we dive into this week's text and the next following weeks, you have to remember that's the framework we're working out of. God is correcting a false understanding of righteousness.
The next couple of weeks are going to be broken up. The rest of Matthew 5 is broken up into six large chunks. I'm going to cover two of them today, but you need to know there are six chunks that come out of this verse 20, and he's specifically going to use a pattern to talk about this. I'm going to show you what that is. I'm going to read with you the Scripture we're going to cover first, that first chunk, and then I want to show you the way that fits into a flow that Jesus is teaching us out of. So let's read together Matthew 5:21-26.
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
So while you're with your accuser on the way to court, come to terms with him quickly. He's going to go on and on and talk about your accuser while you're with him and you're on the way to court, because he's going to hand you over to the judge, and the judge is going to give you to the guard, and the guard is going to throw you in prison. "Truly, I say to you, you will not get out until you have paid every penny."
Before we unpack that text and all that it is, let me show you, high level, the umbrella, the flow of the next six chunks. If you look at this chart with me, what Jesus is going to do is he's going to give a command from God. He's going to quote Scripture. That's how he's going to start every section we're going to cover the next few weeks. He's going to start with a command. Then what he's going to do is correct understanding. He's going to give you the correct understanding.
There was a false understanding of what that command meant. Jesus is going to correct that. Then out of that, he is going to call us to application. He is going to call us to something. He's not going to just say, "Since you understand appropriately where righteousness comes from, now you can do whatever you want at anytime you want. You can keep on sinning so grace may abound." No. There is a call to action in every single one of the passages we're going to study.
As we spend time in God's Word, all of us have something to take away today. I want to spend a little more time unpacking why this can be so confusing, because you're going to hear Jesus say, after he gives a command, "But I say to you…" The wrong way to think about that is to think that God is correcting Scripture. We know he's quoting Scripture from the Old Testament, and we know that in Matthew 5:18 he has already said Scripture was not wrong.
There was no error in what God gave to Moses in the Ten Commandments. God didn't make a mistake when he gave commands, and Moses did not write something down falsely on those tablets. That's a bad way to think about this. In verse 18 he says, "…not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." So he already is telling us the commands are not the issue. He's not saying, "But I say to you" to correct the command that was already there.
He's correcting the false interpretation and application of that command, which was coming forth from the Pharisees. The reason he says, "You have heard that it was said" is because this was an oral tradition. This is where it got really muddy. This is why on that chart you'll see it says command from God but also tradition. The Pharisees who had God's law and who were the pastors of the day, communicating to people who weren't reading it on their own, were mixing in their tradition with God's command.
So as the audience and the hearers and followers and people were trying to figure out what God wanted them to do… It was really hard to figure out what God wanted you to do specifically, because the Pharisees interwove their own understanding, their own ideas, their own traditions with God's Word. Jesus is correcting that. He's going to separate and show you the actual command of God and then correct your understanding.
He's going to correct out of verse 20 that said, "It is not your external righteousness that puts you into a right relationship with me. I am after your heart, your internal motivations, your desires, your belief. You have to believe in me, that I am the one who gives you righteousness. You need to know you cannot earn your righteousness to me. Stop trying to earn your way to me. I have left heaven to get in a relationship with you, and you have to understand that."
There's a false idea out there that people were saved in the Old Testament differently than they were in the New. I want to show you a few spots in your Old Testament that communicate this same idea. This story is woven throughout your entire Scripture. Turn back to Psalm 51:16-17. Here's what God's Word communicates to us.
"For you will not delight in sacrifice…" David is speaking to God. "…or I would give it…""If I could earn something from you by an external work, I would do it." "…you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit…" Insert here the first sentence of the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Then he ends and says, "…a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
You enter into the kingdom of God not by external works but through a faith and a heart that believes in God's works on your behalf. You see it again in 1 Samuel 16:7. He says, "This is a big idea. You need to know those who you put into leadership… You need to care about their heart and what they do internally not just what they do externally." This is what 1 Samuel 16:7 says: "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'"
Over and over and over again… I'm going to show you two more spots so you don't miss this. God has always been concerned with what is internal. He always says it starts with the heart. It has always started with the belief. If you go back to Deuteronomy 6:5, I'm going to read to you a Scripture you probably know. If I asked you what the greatest command was, you would quote Jesus, but you need to know that was found and rooted in what was already there in God's Old Testament in your Bible in Deuteronomy 6.
This shows up before the law. This is why this is so important. Before you could have a mis-idea of how to earn your way to God through keeping commandments, you need to know what the purpose of the commandments was. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." The law was there to show you "You cannot earn your way to me." It was to reveal God's holiness and reveal to us our lack thereof. His goal in those commandments was to move your heart toward a deeper love for God, not you working your way, like climbing a staircase, to him.
The last place I want to show you is Genesis 15:6, why this, again, is so important, because this is Abraham. This is before the law existed or was in place. God is going to say, "You want to know how you are righteous in my sight? You want to know how your righteousness can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees? Here it is in your Old Testament." Genesis 15:6: "And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness."
What we're going to do now is zoom back in this same teaching Jesus is reminding his audience of in Matthew 5 in the Sermon on the Mount. Go back now with me to this chart and just look at the flow of what God's teaching is and how it fits right into what we looked at earlier. He starts with a command, a command from God: "You shall not murder." That was in your Old Testament. That was part of the Ten Commandments. You can read Exodus 20 and read that sixth commandment. That was God's Word.
The tradition that was inserted into that was "If you just don't murder, you are good." Everything below that… It was watered down. It doesn't matter what your heart is or your attitude is toward others. As long as you're not literally killing people, you are good in the sight of God. But insert the second part of what Jesus is doing. He's going to give them a correct understanding. The way you know that is he says, "But I say to you…" That phrase is going to show up six times. That's what breaks up the rest of Matthew 5 into six chunks.
"But I say to you whoever is angry with his brother is liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother is liable to the council; whoever says, 'You fool!' is liable to the hell of fire." What Jesus is doing here is showing you the heart of the person who would take a knife and kill somebody, which I doubt any of us in this room probably did this past week… I want you to know something. The same heart would suppress anger toward his brother over a long period of time.
The same heart of the murderer who would kill somebody is the same heart of somebody who would grab some people and slander and gossip about other folks. The same heart of the murderer, which is condemnable, and you know that external work, is the same heart of the person who would stand before somebody and insult them and call them names to their face out of anger. All of those are condemnable. Why? "Your heart is not mine. That's not the heart of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Your internal motivation is wrong, and it is sin, and it is condemnable." That's what he's showing us.
One of the best places I know in Scripture that communicates this is Matthew 15:19. It says, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." That's what God is after with his people: our hearts. He's saying out of that heart is what brings forth this thing. What did we already study in the Sermon on the Mount earlier in Matthew 5? It says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are called children of God." To represent the family name, we are folks who bring forth peace, not cause division.
The call to action Jesus gives us here in this text is simple: reconcile. That's the call to action: be reconciled. It's not okay to not be okay with people. The application for us all is reconcile. It's not okay to not be okay with people. One of the ways this was illustrated in my life recently… Out there in Frisco, I've spent some time with other guys in town who have a similar role and responsibility that I do at different churches. All of these guys are pastors. I have a little bit of a relationship with some of these guys.
One Saturday evening, I'm sitting there, and I open up my phone. I got a text from one of them. I pop it open, and it's a screenshot of a message on Facebook. I open this up, and I'm looking at it. What had happened was there was a Watermark member of our campus who saw some things at another church, specifically this guy's, that he disagreed with, so his action, because he was frustrated… He had some pain in his own life from some previous church experiences.
He thought what he saw this other church doing was wrong. He got mad that this other church would be seeking to grow attendance in the way they were, so he thought it was his job to get on Facebook and write a post on this church's public Facebook profile. Let me read you what he said and what pops up on my phone from this other pastor. This was a Watermark member at our Frisco Campus I'm quoting.
He said, "This looks fun. If you're a broken person like me, looking to focus on God's words with other broken people without all the hoopla, meet me at Watermark Frisco. We meet at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., and we rally around each other as a community of broken people serving a perfect God and a perfect Savior." Okay. That's not exactly the way you want to go about publicly representing your campus or inviting people to it. You could see the anger that was there. It was clear.
So I get that text. Let me just ask you what you would do if you were me in that moment. You got that text from the other pastor who's your friend. It's a member of the community you go to publicly living out Matthew 5, and not the good part, but spewing anger publicly in front of others. Well, it was simple. It was easy. I knew exactly what to do. First, because I had spent time in this text. Second, because I've studied resources we have here that communicate what God's Word would have us do.
The application was simple: reconcile. We're not going to gather together on a Sunday morning, you're not going to go to your Community Group, and we're not going to meet together and publicly worship and publicly come to the altar while there is conflict between us and other brothers of Christ in this community.
So what did I do? I called that member. I said, "Hey, I think I see what you were trying to do. I don't even necessarily agree with what that other church is doing, but the way you executed that was not God-honoring. That was out of anger, and it was clear." He agreed. I said, "I know what we should do. What do you think we should do?" He says, "I need to get with that pastor, and I need to ask for forgiveness." I said, "You're exactly right."
So I called that pastor. He's my friend. We had a relationship. I scheduled a meeting. We got together with this member who posted that after he had taken it down, and that member of our body asked for that pastor's forgiveness and said, "Man, I moved toward you in anger and frustration. You need to know why I did that. There's a story." Hurt people hurt people. He was hurt in the past. That pastor extended him grace.
We had a great conversation about some things we did actually disagree with, but we left there as friends, as reconciled, as strengthened, as unified, and God glorified, that we would not continue to meet together as if nothing was wrong in that situation. I know you're probably sitting there thinking you would never post something on Facebook… Surely, nobody in this room would spew venom over a screen and post something publicly at another church's Facebook post and invite people to Watermark.
I know you would never do that, but let me just ask you how your marriage is. How were the last six or seven conversations with your spouse? Would the people at your place of work and your office identify you as a peacemaker, as somebody who shows up and everybody is glad they're there? If there's conflict in the office, they come to your door to help reconcile it. What's the average volume level of you at your children's sporting events? Do people look at you and go, "Oh, that is a man or a woman of God bringing peace" or are they going, "Man, that's somebody who's just angry at I don't even know what; they're not even making sense"?
How are we doing, church? I know it's easy to judge my friend who's growing (and he did a great job), to think about how obvious it was that it was wrong to post something like that on Facebook, but we're all in that story. Let me just pause right here. If you're in the middle of conflict, there is clear application. As a church, we try to equip the saints for the work of ministry. Part of our ministry is reconciliation.
One of the ways we've done all we can to help you in your battle of reconciling with others is create what we call a Conflict Field Guide. I printed it out. All you have to do is get the Watermark community app. You can download that, and on that community app we have all of the best resources of Watermark. When you click "conflict" there are multiple resources. The first one is the Conflict Field Guide.
If there's conflict you're going to move toward when you leave here, I would encourage you to spend time with that. As a reminder, if you're a member here, we expect you to be fluent in that. We expect the Community Groups here to already have studied the six-week study of Resolve, a biblical guide to conflict resolution. We see conflict as an opportunity to glorify God. That's part of what we do. This is so important, because we cannot be right with God if we're not right with one another. First John 2:9-10 says:
"Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because [he is blind] ."
God died to transfer us out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light, and he's saying, "If you want to have fellowship with me, the God of light, and live in brokenness and hate and anger… I don't care if you suppress it or if you're slandering or if you're spewing it. You are not living in the light. You are not being representations of my kingdom. You are not acting like a citizen of my kingdom ought to act." God is saying, "Your horizontal relationships with one another affect our vertical relationship. You are not right with me if you are not right with each other."
This is part of what can be so difficult. I've been in some hard situations in the last couple of weeks, even. It gets really hard when you hear somebody communicate that and you read Jesus' text and you go, "But you don't understand the pain I've gone through. You don't know the wrong others have caused me and why I'm angry. If you only knew that my dad was never present and never around, you'd be angry too."
"Maybe my dad was around, but when he was around he was a source of violence and conflict and abuse. If you understood my context, you wouldn't be telling me not to be angry about that." "If you knew the things my spouse or my ex-spouse did to me, you would not tell me to pursue reconciliation. If you only knew…" "If you knew the pain my past church caused me, you would not call me into faithful obedience and membership and connectedness with the body, because I have been hurt."
This is where I would encourage you with 2 Corinthians 5:18. "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…" Verse 20 says we are ambassadors. We already studied in the Sermon on the Mount we are peacemakers. That's what makes us a part of God's family. We don't spew out venom. We don't respond in anger, because our God who put on flesh and came and died and hung on a cross… When he was hanging on the cross, wrongfully accused, he didn't retaliate, he didn't respond in anger; he prayed for those who persecuted him.
I know the only power you have in the midst of the wrong and the real pain that's there to pursue reconciliation is a deeper trust in God's story of grace and gospel. The gospel is powerful enough to give us the confidence to move toward reconciliation, peace, and hope in the middle of the hardest times. This is what starts to hurt a church: when the members of that church don't move toward one another in reconciliation. That hurts a church.
Let me tell you what kills a church. It's when those of us who maybe are not currently in a level of conflict, but those around us are, don't move toward them in love and say, "You have to go reconcile." That kills a church. We know we're not going to get it right and we're going to get it wrong and we're going to hurt each other and make each other mad and have to work through conflict. That's going to hurt us when we do that, but it's going to kill us if we never help each other move toward that reconciliation. That's the job.
That's not the job of a pastor, somebody with a Watermark email; that's the job of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. So we practice that here at our church. Let me remind us of a house rule we have here, a principle we live by. It's called the 24-hour rule. Just to remind you, this is when… Maybe this has happened in your Community Group. Somebody in your Community Group is coming to you, talking about somebody else in your Community Group, something they did wrong.
Ultimately what they're doing is defiling this person, slandering, gossiping, and you listen to that. We're saying that is a foul. Time out. That's not what God would have you do. Although you're not in that conflict, you're called to help resolve that conflict. You are part of the salt God put in that situation to preserve from decay. When you stand by and listen to that, you're part of the decay that's going on. You're called to be salt of the earth, to preserve it.
So we insert in the 24-hour rule. When somebody comes to you with that, you just respond to them. "Hey, I know the person you just talked about would want to know that. I know they want to follow Jesus. I know they're not going to do it perfectly, and they would be helped if you would tell them what you just told me."
"No, no, no! I was just kidding. I just wanted to get your counsel on what Scripture I should use to help me in this situation."
"No. You just told me that, so I'm going to love you enough… I'm going to give you 24 hours to go tell them what you just told me. Be kind and gracious and own your 2 percent and take the log out of your own eye, but you need to move forward to them and show them the speck in theirs. That's what God would have you do. By the way, in 24 hours, I'm going to ask you if you've done that. I'm going to follow up with that person, and if you haven't, I'm going to go get them and bring them to you."
We live by that here. That's part of how we operate, the 24-hour rule, in our communities, in our larger, broader family of faith. We live that way. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. For some of us, the application Jesus gave us, which was to reconcile, would cause us… Maybe the most obedient thing for you to do is not show back up next week or come to this altar and give your sacrifice and go through this religious motion.
Maybe the most faithful thing for you next week is you need to take a road trip out of town to reconcile with family members you haven't talked to in a long time. Some of you may need to pull out your phone and text somebody and set up a time for you to get with them so you can ask their forgiveness and move toward them in reconciliation. Some of us need to grab our spouse's hand and squeeze it and just say, "After this I need to talk to you." There's something for us to identify here and to move forward with that application.
I want to show you guys… Part of being out in Frisco and why I'm excited to be here, like I told you, was to share more of what God is doing up there. We had the chance to pull off Summit this semester in Frisco for the first time. This is part of what is so amazing that we have a campus up north. A year ago, when we hosted Summit, we had to go to Plano or Dallas. We only had 25 guys from Frisco go to Summit.
This year, we pulled off Summit up in Frisco and had over 100 guys. We don't have our own facility yet, so we met at a volleyball court, but it was awesome. There were over 100 guys there. We started a campus because we believed we'd be more effective at making and being disciples. We could invite people to come and see, and that's happening. God is using that.
While we were at this men's Bible study, a man was there from another church. He's a member of another church. He's coming to our Bible study. It's the first time he has ever experienced any level of community. Within that, after studying God's Word and feeling the conviction to move toward action, he draws another guy and me aside and says, "Hey, I need to tell you guys something. I slept with somebody this week who's not my wife. I am in the middle of an active affair."
Let me just pause. Church, pastor, what would you do in that moment? Let me tell you what my initial response was when he told me that. I wanted to grab him and shake him and say, "What do you mean you're in an active affair? How could you betray your vows, betray your wife, the one you are one with? How could you do anything to compromise that? What's wrong with you?" That was what I desired to respond with. That was the frustration.
If you're anything like me, that may have been yours too, but let me just tell you. What we're rolling into, Jesus has something to say to us about that. This text, which was more at the tip of my tongue and in my heart than it usually is because of the ways I've been studying and preparing, just reminded me of Jesus' words here in Matthew 5:27-30.
"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 lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."
I was reminded of that chart, and I was reminded there's a command from God. There's a correct understanding that my righteousness is not external and that the way I've maybe been obedient to not committing external adultery… I know there's adultery of my heart that has taken place over the years. I went back to this chart and reminded myself God does give me this command to not commit adultery, but he's going to say, "But I say to you…" He's going to correct the misunderstanding.
The superficial righteousness of the Pharisees was, "As long as you're not sleeping around, you're good. Everything else is fair game." But the correct understanding and then the call to action Jesus is going to give is remove. Remove that access. Remove whatever it is that is allowing you to walk in that. Clearly, Jesus is speaking hyperbolically here. He doesn't literally mean gouge out your eye and cut off your hand and throw it away. That's not literally what he means, but this may literally be your application.
You need to get rid of the porn factory you call your iPhone, which I know 85 percent of this in this room have. You may need to cancel your Internet subscription if that's what's allowing you to continue to walk in adultery and sexual immorality. You may need to stop getting on Instagram or just delete Instagram altogether. You need to stop getting on the apps you're getting on or dating places. You need to stop doing all that if that's what is giving you access toward something.
This is a big deal. When Jesus is speaking this way, it's like he's waving his arms and saying, "Pay attention to what I'm about to say. This really matters. You need to grasp what I'm telling you. This is a big deal." We've watched it be a big deal. We know that over 50 percent of marriages that end in divorce have in them at least one of the members addicted to pornography. Pornography is a big deal.
We know it's not just a man's thing. We know sometimes the church has taught it that way. One in every three women struggle with active addiction to pornography. This has rippled through the church, and it has affected marriages, and it has destroyed peace and reconciliation. So Jesus says, "Gouge out your eye. Cut off your hand. Take this thing seriously." "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
The Scripture that runs through my mind is Ephesians 5:3, which says, "But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints." Part of the way I've cut off my hand in the past is when I was in college and pursuing purity and a faith and a devotion, I just decided an iPhone was not helpful for me, so I got a flip phone. It drove the girl I was dating who was in that picture who's now my bride… It drove her crazy when we were dating, but let me tell you something: it blessed my now wife.
There's a story of a guy who's a young businessman around Dallas. He was getting all of the things he thought he wanted. His business was blowing up, and he had huge success. He thought, "I need to make sure everybody else knows the success I have," so he bought himself a Bugatti. He goes ripping out of the car dealership, and he's driving down to work. He wants to show all of his friends his Bugatti, which really just showed everybody else his value.
On his way there, the police sirens go off. He gets pulled over. He's frustrated now. He's thinking about all that stuff. He's kind of out of his mind a little bit, just frustrated. He opens his door, and Boom! A truck sideswipes his Bugatti, totals the whole thing, takes off the door. He's just going crazy, and he's all upset that his brand-new Bugatti is all ruined. He's losing his mind.
The police officer who pulled him off runs up to him and goes, "Sir, calm down. Calm down. Calm down." He's like, "No, I can't calm down! My Bugatti is ruined. It's totaled. I'm never going to get it back!" The police officer goes, "What's wrong with you? Are you materialistic? Are you uninformed? Look down at your arm. You're missing your arm from the elbow down." The guy looks at his arm. "My Rolex! My Rolex!" And he's all frustrated.
I love that story. The imagery there is that I'm talking about the radical idea of getting rid of your iPhone. Jesus says, "Cut off your hand." I know the Rolex of our iPhone helps us stay connected and more efficient in work and send emails, and you're never the guy who causes those group texts to go green. I get all of that, but Jesus is saying, "Take this seriously. Get rid of this."
I've taken steps like this in the past. The series Game of Thrones just ended. I've never watched an episode of Game of Thrones. Don't be surprised by that. I know my heart can't handle it, so I know this text is telling me to get rid of those things. Even when I've done that… I've taken extreme measures in my life to get rid of those things. I have thick accountability in this area.
Jesus really is talking to me here, because when I leave Dallas and get on the toll road and go north and go toward Frisco by myself in my car, usually a couple of times a week, there's a billboard at a specific place off the toll road with a specific image that every time I drive north I want to look at, and none of you would know if I do or don't. Jesus is talking to me here. He's saying, "Connor, I want your heart."
The basketball game was on last night, and I caught the last quarter of it, and there was a commercial there. Nobody else was with me. My wife was on a phone call in the other room. I could have looked at that in multiple different ways, and none of you would have known, but Jesus is saying, "I want your heart."
There was a phrase that came out of our baptism week last week that really encouraged me. We had our Baptism Sunday. We baptized 13 people after being out in Frisco for seven months, which was amazing. My favorite line was "I used to trade short-term pleasure for long-term pain." This teaching of Jesus to move toward reconciliation that may be painful for a moment or remove access that may be painful for a moment is for long-term pleasure and peace and the blessed life of being a citizen in the kingdom of heaven.
I'm reminded God's commands toward me are not out of just he wants to oppress me and see if I'll be obedient. It's out of the same love that hung on the cross he gave us his commands to walk in them. So that's why I flee. To quote a guy who stood on more stages than me and said things more eloquently, Spurgeon said, "I cannot trifle with the evil [that killed] my best Friend. I must be holy for his sake. How can I live in sin when he has died to save me from it?"
That's what I feel like. I can't trifle with this sin that killed my best Friend, my Lord, my Savior, who gives me his righteousness. I know in the room there are folks in an active affair. The call of application is to repent, to remove that relationship, bring that into the light, bring others there. There are others who I'm sure are struggling with pornography. The call to action is repent. Remove access. Bring others into that situation.
There are others of us who may have no external sign of impurity or adultery, but you have billboards and commercials in your life, and you need to repent. Some of us now are tempted like the Pharisee, because we don't have those first three categories, to think we're doing better than others and that we are more holy than them. We're tempted to think our righteousness now is on obedience to what God has called us to, and we need to repent. What a great message, that we have a gospel and a God who can save the murderer and the adulterer because of his finished work on the cross. Let us pray.
Lord, thank you for your kindness and your goodness and the way you've reconciled us to you. Thank you for the way you expose sin in our hearts. Even after we know you and we could proclaim the gospel because we've believed the gospel, we still sin against you. We are wicked and broken, but you are good and holy and loving and slow to anger, and your mercies are new every morning.
So, Lord, we praise you and worship you. When we get it wrong, we talk about getting it wrong, and we boast in our weakness so we can communicate the strength of our Savior, that although we are all murderers and adulterers, there is a God and a message and a gospel of good news, that our righteousness can't exceed that of the Pharisees because it's not based on what we do; it's what you've done for us. So lead us, Lord, into however you would apply this text to our lives. We love you. It's in your name we pray, amen.