In review, what we have said about Jesus’ teaching in His Sermon on the Mount, is that He gives us a contrast between what the Scribes and Pharisees were teaching and what was the true teaching of Moses. As Lloyd-Jones points out, the Scribes and Pharisees were always guilty of reducing the meaning and the demands of the law, and we will give a perfect example of it here in our text.
We will outline Jesus’ teaching in regard to “thou shalt not kill,” in the following two points.
1. What matters is not merely the letter of the law but the spirit of the law.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22,
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
What Jesus was teaching here is that the commandment, “Thou shall not kill,” goes deeper than just the physical act of murder. The violation of this law actually begins in the heart when we choose to be angry at a person. And then that anger is expressed in cruel word, such as “you good for nothing person,” or “you fool.” And then, in some cases there will be a physical murder. But Jesus tells us that it is all sin, that in every phase it is murder.
Why? Well, I suppose it is because in each phase there is cruelty committed. When we tell a person that he is a worthless person, that kind of talk is very damaging to one’s self-worth. It is like killing the soul. To say “you fool” is actually judging a person, pronouncing a judgment on him. But only God has the right to do that.
We can and should express anger at sin and at all the evil in the world, but never at any person. That is God’s business. And at the end of time He will express His anger at every lost sinner at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20).
2. Our attitude must always be to try to reconcile with our brother.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-26,
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
We cannot please the Lord in worship if we don’t first make an attempt to make peace with one that has something against us, or we with him. Hence, it is not enough to discontinue our negative thoughts against him, we must take steps to remove the cause of the anger and the trouble. And also, don’t try to cover up the sin by doing any good works. This won’t be acceptable to God and really won’t help to fix the real problem. You must deal with the source of the problem. Some situations are difficult, but you must do your part. That’s all you can do.